PHILADELPHIA, PA, November 1, 2017—PolicyMap, a project first incubated at Reinvestment Fund 10 years ago with just 2 staff and a dream to democratize data and make location intelligence widely available and accessible, today announced that it has formally incorporated as a benefit corporation.
Benefit corporations are for-profit companies that meet higher standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and aspire to use the power of markets to solve society’s most challenging problems. PolicyMap has always operated with a social purpose, and its conversion to a benefit corporation will allow the business to continue to grow while enshrining the original public purpose for which it was created.
National nonprofit Enterprise Community Partners uses PolicyMap as the basis for the Opportunity360 Measurement Report. This neighborhood-level assessment shows the available pathways to and outcomes of opportunity anywhere in the country, using more than 200 public and proprietary data indicators. In Philadelphia, nonprofit Project HOME subscribes to PolicyMap to support its work to break the cycle of homelessness through housing, employment, medical care, and education. See more at www.policymap.com/gallery.
USDA’s Rural Development Office partnered with PolicyMap in 2016 to help the agency address the growing opioid epidemic in rural America. By mapping data from multiple federal agencies, PolicyMap supports interagency collaboration to address a complex issue. PolicyMap provides a layered portrait of the opioid crisis with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Health Resources and Services Administration, and USDA’s Rural Housing Services.
The map overlays drug overdose deaths, with the locations of treatment and health facilities and the addresses of federally supported housing, allowing agency officials to identify areas that are most in need of transitional housing to combat opioid addiction and to identify existing housing that could be converted to fill that need.
“We started PolicyMap largely to help government agencies, nonprofit organizations and housing professionals easily understand and incorporate geographic data into their decision-making processes. As interest in that data and in data visualization has exploded, PolicyMap has grown to offer more robust and user-friendly features and provide broad business intelligence,” says PolicyMap CEO and founder Maggie McCullough.
PolicyMap has grown significantly, now with 17 staff and web developers working coast to coast to improve the platform and curate data for its more than 60,000 users. Organizations and academic institutions across the country are using PolicyMap to quantify social problems geospatially and help target solutions.
“PolicyMap has become an essential tool that bridges the vast datasets available in the public domain with end users who need ways to access and analyze data to inform decision-making,” said Don Hinkle-Brown, President and CEO of Reinvestment Fund. “Little did we imagine how much need there would be for an easy to use, yet sophisticated resource like PolicyMap.”
Today, over 60 government agencies use PolicyMap to support strategic planning, land bank activities, program development, impact assessment, and grant writing and public reporting. Nearly a third of the organizations using PolicyMap are nonprofits or philanthropies.
For example, PolicyMap supports philanthropic initiatives toward universal access to early childhood education and pre-K. In Newark and Passaic County, NJ, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., PolicyMap has provided the technology infrastructure for projects aiming to understand and map the supply of and demand for quality early education. These childcare maps allow local funders and stakeholders to strategically direct resources to the highest need communities.
“PolicyMap has grown from an idea sketched on the back of an envelope to a self-sustaining business whose employees are consistently driven by the impact of their work on the organizations and communities they serve,” said Robert Keith, long-time venture capitalist, former Reinvestment Fund Board Chair, and newly appointed Benefit Director for the PolicyMap, Inc., Board of Directors. “Becoming a Benefit Corporation provides PolicyMap a structure within which to grow and raise capital in the future while always remaining true to its deeply held belief that data has the power to change communities and markets.”
PolicyMap begins operations today as a Benefit Corporation. In addition to Robert Keith, its Board of Directors includes Mark Zandi, Chief Economist of Moody’s Analytics, who was named Board Chair. For a complete listing of Board members, see www.policymap.com.
About Reinvestment Fund: Reinvestment Fund is a catalyst for change in low-income communities. The organization integrates data, policy and strategic investments to improve the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods. Using analytical and financial tools, Reinvestment Fund brings high-quality grocery stores, affordable housing, schools and health centers to the communities that need better access—creating anchors that attract investment over the long term and help families lead healthier, more productive lives. Learn more at reinvestment.com.