LAWG Week: Andrew Means on Data that Makes Chicago Great

Hello, American Evaluation Association and prospective Evaluation 2015 attendees. My name is Andrew Means and I’m writing as the co-founder of the Impact Lab which works with clients to solve big government problems using data, strategy, and analysis. I am passionate about increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the social sector.

Lesson Learned:

Two of the best things about make it the heart of the data for good movement: our universities and our passion for civic service and engagement.

We are home to some of the best universities in the world: The University of Chicago and Northwestern are churning out some of the greatest quantitative researchers in the country. My alma mater, The Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, has been giving social sectors leaders some of the best training in the country for over 25 years and with the introduction of their new degree in computational analysis they are looking to the future and how our work is changing.

Chicago also has a rich civic tradition. Many of the great philanthropists of old including the Fields and Julius Rosenwald gave generously to their hometown and their spirit lives on today through philanthropists like the Pritzkers, Crown’s, and the city’s many foundations. Often because of their generosity, Chicago has been home to some of the great social institutions including the Jane Addams Hull House, the Art Institute of Chicago (recently voted number 1 museum in the world), and WBEZ.

This drive to make the world a better place paired with a highly educated and analytical workforce has led to Chicago to be the home for much of the data for good movement.

In addition to my own company, The Impact Lab, Chicago is filling up with organizations like DataMade, DataScope Analytics, and Ingenuity, Inc. that are trying to embody this new data for good movement and change the way the social sector is working. 

As you come to Chicago this fall for Evaluation 2015, take time to explore this unique city and see how these forces have come together.

Hot Tips: Head down to Hyde Park and walk through the University of Chicago campus (it’s beautiful that time of year), visit one of our many museums (the Art Institute is really not to be missed), or stop by one of our many great nonprofit organizations (The Cara Program’s morning motivations are not to be missed).

Rad Resource: Every Tuesday night data analysts, developers, and nonprofit leaders gather for ChiHackNight and Data Analysts for Social Good regularly holds Data Drinks for the local social sector data community.

This city is changing the way we think about evaluation and deliver social services. It’s an exciting time to be here.

We’re looking forward to November and the Evaluation 2015 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to


1 thought on “LAWG Week: Andrew Means on Data that Makes Chicago Great”

  1. As a fellow University of Chicago alum, I agree there are some great researchers coming from the UofC. I noticed though that another great Chicago institution is missing from your list: University of Illinois at Chicago. Our Research and Evaluation Department at YMCA of the USA has two great researchers who hold degrees from UIC’s Measurement, Evaluation, Statistics and Assessment. They are really helping to elevate the quality of our research and evaluation work.

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