Multi-State Data Collaborative (MSDC)

The MSDC brings state agency program, policy, and data experts together to focus on using agency administrative data to address critical program and policy questions. State agencies value the supportive network the MSDC provides staff to share ideas, access technical assistance, and share their practices and products across functional, sectoral, and state lines. MSDC members also join regional collaboratives and cross-regional project groups to develop projects that lead to data products that inform policies and improve programs and practices at the local, state, and regional levels.

This “collaborative of collaboratives” began with a regional focus through the Midwest Collaborative, followed by the Southern Regional Data Collaborative and the Eastern States Longitudinal Data Collaborative., The MSDC supports cross-regional project development focused on topics of national, regional, state, and local interest. NASWA supports the MSDC as the backbone organization, and partners closely with the Coleridge Initiative as the platform organization, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO), and other partners and funders.


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2024 MSDC Annual Meeting Report
From Projects to Products
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Joint Presentation on the Multi-State Data Collaboratives

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MSDC Learning Agenda

The MSDC is a network for developing data projects and products that answer questions critical to state and local needs that will impact policy or practice. The MSDC is developing a shared learning agenda to systematically identify and address priority questions that are relevant to member states and agencies.

Current priority topics include:

  • Credentials of Value
  • High-Wage, High-Skill, High-Demand Jobs/Quality Jobs
  • Multi-State Post-Secondary Report
  • K-12 Education
  • Recidivism/Re-Entry
  • Migrants/Refugees
  • Emerging Technologies/Industries/Occupations
  • UI Equity/Unemployment to Reemployment
  • Equity and Subgroup Access and Outcomes

Examples of technical and methodological topics are:

  • Qualitative research methods and applications
  • State funding strategies for evidence building
  • Streamlining data sharing (procurement processes; legal aspects)
  • Data linkages
  • Artificial intelligence use cases

What's in it for State Agencies?

Over 35 states have been active in the MSDC, with levels of engagement ranging from informing founding discussions to leading development of shared data products.

The MSDC aims to support agencies where you are – it recognizes state agencies are at different places in terms of culture, expertise, resources, data systems, and data access.

Through the MSDC, you can:

  • Leverage existing ideas, data practices, products, and projects created by a state or states.
  • Help develop new data practices and products with other states and state agencies.
  • Build staff capacity through relationships with program and data leaders in other sectors and states.
  • Weigh in on priority research areas of focus for collaboration.
  • Access outside research partners and potential project funding opportunities.
  • Host, manage, and allow access to data (on a per-project basis based on agency approval) with other states through the Coleridge Initiative’s Administrative Data Research Facility (ADRF), using aligned data agreements.
  • Engage in Applied Data Analytics training opportunities.
  • Assume a national leadership role by serving as an MSDC Executive Committee member, leading a project group, or sponsoring a training class.
  • Engage with and help inform federal policymakers and stakeholders on state needs and opportunities.

  Want to engage in the Multi-State Data Collaborative?

MSDC Governing Framework

The Multi-State Data Collaborative has adopted a governance framework that is implemented via shared bylaws and a common memorandum of understanding with the administering organization. The governance framework includes a policymaking body (Council), an advisory body (Data Representatives Board), and a coordinating body (Executive Committee). The graphic shown below illustrates the basic elements of the governance structure. Together, state partners establish shared priorities and an agenda for research and data projects and implement collaborative processes and activities, supported by the administering organization.

The MSDC has been operating under interim governance and is on a path to implement formal governance in the fall of 2024. Formal governance establishes stable leadership, helps build trust and support, facilitates consensus-building around collaborative priorities, and fosters broad and inclusive participation by member states and agencies. Importantly, shared formal collaborative governance supports sustainability through effective and efficient utilization of resources (financial, human, and technical) within the collaborative.

For interested state agencies, the Coleridge Initiative implements common data-sharing agreements to support data access regionally and nationally. Much work is conducted with de-identified microdata stored in a common data platform operated by the Coleridge Initiative. Individual state agencies approve and oversee access to their data for approved projects—state autonomy and agency oversight are paramount principles—and can separately pursue their own projects relying on the shared infrastructure. The Coleridge Initiative is also the primary provider of project technical support and Applied Data Analytics training for agency staff.

Governance Chart

Administering Organization Leadership Team

Yvette Chocolaad

Yvette Chocolaad

Managing Director/Principal Investigator


Erin Joyce

Erin Joyce

Director, Programs

Ohio State University

Cynthia Forland

Cynthia Forland

Director, State Engagement and Special Projects

Forland Consulting LLC