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2-1-1 Counts: The HCRL helps communities track their greatest needs

Key question: 2-1-1 systems store enormous amounts of data that could highlight a community’s greatest needs and help service agencies act more swiftly and efficiently.  Can these data be made available in a useful way to those who serve vulnerable populations?


Reach: In June 2013, the Health Communication Research Laboratory received funding from the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust Foundation to help build our 2-1-1 data “dashboard” to display the data. Since launching in October 2014, 2-1-1 Counts has hosted web-based demonstrations for more than 175 individuals and received more than 10,000 page views from 49 states. 2-1-1s in Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New York and North Carolina have partnered with 2-1-1 Counts; the resulting dashboards cover nearly to one-fourth of the nation’s population.


Effectiveness: In addition to 2-1-1s, users have included government, service and health agencies as well as philanthropic and financial organizations and community members who use 2-1-1 services. 2-1-1 Counts data have been used to write grants, publish up-to-date reports and show evidence of community need. 2-1-1 Counts has received positive feedback from 2-1-1 stakeholders and legislators, and has been called a “real game changer” and the “best investment made in a long time” by 2-1-1 administrators.


Connections: We continue to maintain and expand our relationships with 2-1-1 Missouri and other 2-1-1s and information-and-referral organizations across the U.S. and Canada. We listen to 2-1-1 Counts users and implement enhancements based on critical feedback.

 Latest developments: We are enhancing the 2-1-1 Counts search functions, redesigning the national landing page, increasing the data we collect and connecting to social media. We are also programming 2-1-1 Counts dashboards for more 2-1-1s.  The United Way of North Carolina and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a marketing campaign and evaluation tool to be completed by summer 2016.​ 


Key faculty and staff

Nikki Caito

 Project Publications

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