Your Daily Sun: Deep Dive Into Data

The following guest column by United Way of Charlotte County Executive Director Angie Matthiessen appeared in Your Daily Sun on August 7, 2022.

In 1971, Jacques Cousteau briefly explored the Great Blue Hole off the coast of Belize, declaring it one of the top scuba diving sites in the world. This giant sinkhole (the world’s largest) has a depth of approximately 410 feet, is filled with giant stalactites and is home to several species of sharks.

Unfortunately, about 300 feet down, the hole goes dark due to a layer of hydrogen sulfide. Everything below that depth is hidden in blackness.

Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director of United Way of Charlotte County, smiles.
Angie Matthiessen, United Way of Charlotte County

It wasn’t until 2018 when Cousteau’s grandson, Fabien, took a team of scientists there to truly understand the intricacies of what lay at the bottom. This team took high-resolution sonar and mapped stalactites deep into the hole that had never been discovered before. It took two solid weeks of monitoring the site before they were rewarded with a 360-degree sonar map.

This deep dive allowed them to see - and share - even more detail and beauty in what was already considered a wonder of nature.

United Way of Charlotte County (UWCC) appreciates the value of a deep dive, especially when it comes to data. And like Fabien Cousteau’s team, we need resources to be able to see more clearly and map out what is beneath the surface.

The Miriam P. Raines Charitable Fund, administered by Gulf Coast Community Foundation, has partnered with UWCC to provide $16,594 in grant funding aimed at deepening the data being collected on Charlotte County’s ALICE population.

One piece of data that always hits home for me is the fact that in Charlotte County, 79% of single female headed households are living below the ALICE threshold.

ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. It represents those in our community who are working hard but are still struggling to make ends meet. They experience the impacts of poverty and toxic stress daily. And if we want to break the generational cycle of poverty, we need to support these women, meeting them where they are.

Miriam P. Raines had a heart for empowering women through life skills. Through this grant funding, UWCC can dive deep into the data to better identify these women, empower them to improve their lives and, in the long-term, impact the trajectories of their children’s lives as well.  

This data-driven approach supports the collective-impact strategy that United Way of Charlotte County has adopted to make community dollars go farther in improving the lives of all county residents, with a focus on our ALICE population. Funds will be used to implement new data collection mechanisms for Season of Sharing and VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program) to identify individuals and families most in need.

United Way of Charlotte County is grateful for the continued support of Gulf Coast Community Foundation and the Miriam P. Raines Charitable Fund as we mobilize the power of our community to break the cycle of poverty. If you are interested in learning more about who ALICE is through data exploration, visit unitedwayccfl.org/who-alice.

 


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