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Program Associate Dwan Taylor loves numbers. “I discovered in middle school that I liked the definite answers you get with numbers,” she says. It was also in middle school that she noticed Apple computers popping up in classrooms. Intrigued, she got one for herself and began taking classes in databases like Excel. After graduating from Berkeley High, Dwan got an Associate’s Degree in Social Sciences from Laney College. She says it was in part the challenge of mastering new and unfamiliar databases that first attracted her to the job at Youth ALIVE!
But more than that challenge, it was the work of Youth ALIVE!, the impact it has on the Town, that made Dwan want to work here. “I was attracted to Youth ALIVE! because I’m from Oakland,” she says. “I have a son and daughter. We are rooted in Oakland. It’s where we spend our time. It’s where they go to school. I want them to feel safe in their community. I want to feel safe.”
Now she uses her considerable skills to help make our programs better and our city more peaceful. At Youth ALIVE!, we are always evaluating and re-evaluating our programs, their designs and approaches. Dwan’s data is crucial to our constant effort to improve. It’s also how we keep our funders up-to-date, how we show them that we’re doing what we said we would.
It can be frustrating work. Few of us enjoy entering data after time in the field, and sometimes Dwan has to nudge people. Sometimes she just has to wait for information. But with Dwan’s data and tools, we can see where our resources are going and what our results are. It makes us better.
“The numbers help tell our story,” says Dwan. “The numbers show how we’re doing and the impact we’re having. They help us improve ourselves and better reach our clients. There’s truth in the numbers.”