The College of Social Sciences (COSS) will present State of Community: Carroll on Thursday, Feb. 25, at 8:00 a.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom at the University of West Georgia. It includes a presentation of findings Carroll County, as well as workshops on leadership, data-driven decision-making and grant writing.

From 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m, guests will receive breakfast and a presentation of the findings and trends. These trends include voting behavior, crime, recreation, public health, demographics and other factors. Four workshops will then occur between 9:40 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.

“This is our inaugural year for State of Community, and we’re very excited about it,” said Dr. Amber Smallwood, Associate Dean of COSS and organizer of the event and workshops. “We’ve been talking about such an event for a couple of years, and we’re bringing together people in the community and on campus who can contribute and launch this. The whole of COSS is involved and hosting the events, and our different departments are all actively involved.”

Dr. Elizabeth Stupi, Associate Professor of Criminology and the Director of the Survey Research Center, will cover the first workshop, “Gathering and Collecting Information and Data.” Her workshop will focus on learning what questions to ask and how to ask them as well as collecting data that is valid and reliable to better address needs and issues. Her lecture is meant to help understand client needs, organization culture and social issues.

“We’ll talk a lot about how surveys can be used, and we’re also going to be talking about the free, publically available sources of information that are out there,” said Stupi. “The goal is to make informed decisions about what these leaders need to do or to better serve their clients. The most important point that I’m trying to get across is that this isn’t going to be super technical; this is going to be a beginner’s introduction

“I’m hoping that the workshop will help them decide that data or information is not scary and intimidating,” continued Stupi. “I’m hoping to show that this information is out there, that is it accessible and that is can be useful with a little bit of practice.”

The following workshop will be led by Dr. N. Jane McCandless, Dean of the COSS. Her workshop, “Recognizing and Overcoming Challenges of Leadership,” will deal with challenges such as making decisions, articulating a vision, confronting obstacles and gaining a supporting constituent.

“Leadership is the most talked about issue among professionals today,” said McCandless. “And at the same time, it is the most understudied. My goal is to provide new information on issues and challenges facing today’s leaders. We’re going to take this information and this conversation out to the leaders in the community.

“This is our gift to the community,” added McCandless. “It relates back to the very branding of this college. This is part of what we do as COSS.”

Dr. Wilson Tripp’s workshop on “Analyzing and Communicating Information and Data” will discuss how to look at information, find the main story and summarize it. Tripp, Assistant Professor of Sociology, is also the director of the Data Analysis and Visualization Lab at UWG. He will be using a process called “Data Analytics,” which helps make data-driven decisions for programs, organizations and grant applications.

“The workshop is data analysis for people in the community who don’t have a lot of data analysis skills,” said Tripp. “We’re trying to target people who run nonprofits who need these skills but don’t have them. I want to show them ways to get census data that is publically available and easy to get to. I’m trying to demystify the whole process of data analytics, which helps them make better decisions.

“Data analytics is starting with a question about the world around us and then finding reliable data to use,” continued Tripp. “It’s then finding a variety of tools to look at the numbers or pictures to help us understand the data and make sense of the numbers around us. The reality of the world around us is that we, especially nonprofits, are expected to make data-driven decisions, and we need to help them figure out ways to do that.”

The final workshop will be under Dr. Sooho Lee, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Community Development Program. He will cover the “Best Practices in Grant Writing for Nonprofits.”

“Many of the nonprofits leaders I have talked to have never been exposed to grant writing, even though they know that this is very important,” said Lee. “I want to introduce the leaders to the easiest way to write grant proposals.”

The workshop is open to all Carrollton community members and UWG students, staff, and faculty. There is a $25 registration fee that covers breakfast, the workshops and the meeting materials.

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