Community Assessment Gives Local Residents a Voice

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United Way Silicon Valley is working with a coalition of partners to determine the greatest challenges facing the community


SAN JOSE, Calif., May 1, 2012 – What kind of community do you want to live in? What issues are you concerned about? United Way Silicon Valley and its local partners want to know. A broad coalition of institutions, supported by United Way Silicon Valley, is conducting a comprehensive community assessment to identify challenges and assets, and determine what issues local residents care about. Community members have the opportunity to make their voices heard through online and telephone surveys. Anyone can take the online survey at, while phone survey respondents will be selected randomly.

The 2012 Santa Clara County Community Assessment is an ambitious effort to build on previous assessments conducted over the past decade. This collaborative study will produce a report in October that provides a snapshot of the community’s strengths and needs as well as local trends.

“This effort will not only provide a picture of where our community is, but it will also result in better alignment of resources by government, community-based service providers, healthcare providers, and other organizations,” said Patrick Soricone, Community Assessment project manager and vice president for Community Impact at United Way Silicon Valley. “This will enable us to have more focused progress in making this a community where everyone has opportunities for a good life.”

The 2012 Community Assessment will be based on four main sources of information:

  • Community and public opinion surveys (via phone and online) of the general public and targeted constituencies
  • 2010 U.S. Census data at the local level
  • Secondary data sources (reports from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, Hispanic Foundation, Kids in Common, Joint Venture Silicon Valley, and many others)
  • More than 100 “kitchen table” community conversations

Project partners are encouraging local community members to take the survey online or participate in the telephone survey if they get called. An expert team, including San Jose State University and the Santa Clara County Planning Department, collaborated in developing the survey instruments. The random phone survey will reach 1,200 local residents. The questions cover a number of quality-of-life issues such as standard of living, access to health care, neighborhood conditions, transportation, civic engagement, and demographics, including age, race/ethnicity, educational attainment, and income. The online survey reflects a partnership with Santa Clara County’s efforts to update the General Plan, and is available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

“This is really your opportunity to have a say in the kind of community you want to live in,” Soricone said. “The online survey is open to everyone. Every voice counts. Your opinion matters.”

A key element of the project is conducting informal conversations with gatherings of about 8 to 12 people. With the help of a facilitator, these 60 to 75-minute sessions provide a forum for community groups (nonprofits, churches, clubs, neighborhood associations, etc.) and companies that want to host one of these sessions. The facilitator guides the discussion, but participants are free to bring up issues they want to talk about. These community conversations provide another way for local residents to make their voices heard. Anyone who wants to participate in one of these conversations or learn more about them should visit

The 2012 Community Assessment effort is bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders who are passionate about thinking strategically and are willing to take a leadership role in prioritizing recommendations and findings to benefit Silicon Valley. In addition to United Way Silicon Valley, project stakeholders include Applied Materials, Bank of America, The Health Trust, Cisco, The David & Lucile Packard Foundation, IBM, Kaiser Permanente, Santa Clara County Public Health Department, Santa Clara County Office of Education, Santa Clara County Hospital Community Health Benefits Coalition, Housing Authority of Santa Clara County, Santa Clara County Social Services Agency, City of San Jose Economic Development Department, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and many others.

United Way Silicon Valley is committed to improving community conditions by helping local people become financially stable and independent. To drive positive change, United Way Silicon Valley helps people help themselves by identifying critical needs, mobilizing the caring power of the community, and aligning resources to achieve the best solutions. United Way is focused on the building blocks for a good life: income, education and health. For more information about United Way Silicon Valley, visit

Caitlin Kerk
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