From Projects to Products to Impact

multistate data collaboratives logo

The MSDC helps states advance and accelerate data product innovation —a non-linear process that includes ideation; development of priority areas of focus; projects; product development; product adaptation and application; circulation to other agencies and states; and continued product improvement and expansion. 

  • Products are tools or applications that use data to answer questions critical to society. They provide intelligence that helps policymakers, program administrators, or customers improve processes, strategies, programs, and decisions.  
  • Projects are research and development efforts where collaborative members test new ideas or adapt or expand existing products. 

Below are links to projects and products in the current pipeline that were initiated with the support of various innovation and funding opportunities. These include projects and products in such priority areas as: postsecondary non-completers, adult career and technical education outcomes, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) employment pathways, equity in Unemployment Insurance (UI), and the teacher workforce.

The Midwest Collaborative’s (MWC’s) pilot request for information (RFI) process to engage external researchers recently yielded projects in several new areas, such as early childhood workforce analysis and modeling and college completion in high-value career and technical fields. As another mechanism for building the product pipeline, the MSDC is establishing a cross-regional research agenda and aligned project groups that will support product development.

Below are two examples of exploratory collaborative projects that have grown into collaborative data products that are informing practice among state, local, and regional leaders. The two products are the Multi-State Post-Secondary Report and the Unemployment to Reemployment Portal.

Collaborative Products

Plans are underway to add data from Indiana and Tennessee to the Postsecondary Outcomes Dashboard. The states of New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Virginia recently received a Democratizing our Data Challenge grant through the Coleridge Initiative to bring the Multi-state Postsecondary Dashboard to the Eastern States Longitudinal Data Collaborative. The state of Ohio also received a Democratizing our Data Challenge grant to incorporate workforce credentials and data on postsecondary “non-completers” into the dashboard.

Unemployment to Reemployment Portal

States in the Midwest Collaborative (MWC) are working across state borders to create real-time labor market information that is critical for local economic response. This interactive tool draws in the latest de-identified Unemployment Insurance claims data, processed through the secure Administrative Data Research Facility (ADRF) environment. The tool provides insights on claimant unemployment experience based on a longitudinal framework. It can answer such questions as: What are the local labor markets hit the hardest by layoffs? What is the economic impact of the layoffs on the local economy? What is the demographic, industry, and occupation mix of the unemployed as we gear up local training programs for their reemployment? More fundamentally, what can we say about UI claimant behavior in local labor markets, especially its persistence? And, what does reemployment look like in the local labor market? The intent of the initial rollout of the Unemployment to Reemployment Portal was to provide executive decision-makers with actionable information on local labor market conditions that were extremely fluid with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indiana, then, used the portal’s capability to facilitate training interventions on skill transfer between unemployed workers and high demand/supply gaps in local labor markets. More recently, Wisconsin and Arkansas are developing dashboards to inform program administration by local workforce boards. Indeed, the dashboard priorities are a result of extensive stakeholder engagement.

The Unemployment to Reemployment Portal has been replicated by the states of Indiana, Missouri, and Tennessee. The states of Texas and Ohio created UI data tools inspired by the Illinois tool. Planned expansions include the states of Wisconsin and Arkansas. Illinois has incorporated unemployment spell behavior into the portal and is planning enhancements to include Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Title I and Title III program participants and timely measures of reemployment activity. In 2021, moreover, USDOL/ETA partnered with Coleridge Initiative and Illinois to conduct a 3-month national training with 120 participants representing 30 states to support replication and product scaling.

Pipeline Projects

The MSDC ecosystem supports or is supported by several “innovation sandboxes” that enable accelerated data project and product development. Value is created as networks of government staff from various programs, functions, and states ideate together and discover opportunities to access training, peer support, technical assistance, or use of microdata and a secure data facility.

Democratizing our Data Challenge Projects

State leaders responded enthusiastically to two rounds of the Coleridge Initiative’s Democratizing our Data Challenge (DDC) awards opportunity. Funded by philanthropic organizations, the DDC was designed to develop and scale innovative product ideas for understanding public policy and programs by using government administrative data that are securely hosted in the Coleridge Initiative’s Administrative Data Research Facility (ADRF). Successful proposals seek to develop, build upon, or scale innovative products, including new data linkages, data dashboards, data portals, APIs, data models, or code repositories. The awards connect states and agencies to share knowledge, models, and products. Round 1 states: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin Round 2 states: Indiana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island.
View Projects

Applied Data Analytics Training Programs

The Coleridge Initiative’s Applied Data Analytics (ADA) training programs build capacity by enhancing data literacy and technical skills through rigorous and modern methods of analysis. To improve evidence-based decision-making skills, participants are trained in developing, interpreting, and communicating value-based outcomes. The ADA training offers a unique opportunity, particularly for government agency staff, as courses are developed through the direct use of restricted-use microdata to answer real, present policy questions they face and introduce practical, open-source tools that can be used after training ends.
View Programs

Evaluating Enrollment to Employment Pathways Training Investment

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration has funded the NASWA to support two Applied Data Analytics training classes for fall-winter 2023/2024. The classes will focus on the cross-section of WIOA, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs and services linked to employment and wage outcomes. The Coleridge Initiative will deliver the classes in partnership with the state of Arkansas. For more information, email

The Midwest Collaborative’s RFI Process to Engage External Research Partners

In March 2023, the Midwest Collaborative (MWC) approved a plan to pilot an approach to enable data partnerships with external research partners (e.g., post-secondary institutions and non-profit organizations) that lead to innovative data projects and products aligned with priority MWC focus areas (see Multi-State Data Collaborative tab). In July 2023, the MWC sent out a call to its membership to identify trusted external researchers to participate in a pilot Request for Information (RFI) process to establish projects that would develop data tools and products that benefit states and use state administrative records housed in the ADRF. Four high-quality RFI responses were submitted in November 2023: A Prototype System for Measuring the Effects of NSF Investments on Firms and Jobs; Increasing College Completion in High-Value Career and Technical Fields by Unpacking the Relationships between Workforce Participation and Enrollment in Community College Re/Upskilling Course Sequences; Early Childhood Workforce Analysis and Modeling; and Equity in Unemployment Insurance Benefit Access and Experience. These responses were first reviewed by the state agencies identified as partners on the projects, and by the interim MWC Executive Committee. The reviewers recommended all four proposals be brought to the interim MWC Council for a vote. In February 2024, the proposing researchers presented their projects to the interim MWC Council. The states unanimously approved all four projects to become MWC projects.

Southern Region Topical Project Groups

The Southern Regional Data Collaborative (SRDC) piloted the concept of topical project groups to pursue collaborative projects around three priority topics identified by the SRDC: Credentials of Value, Postsecondary Non-completers, and Unemployment to Reemployment Measures of Timeliness. The three initial topical project groups convened in the fall of 2022 and met through the summer of 2023. The groups focused on exchanging knowledge and establishing a common understanding of the priority topics through presentations by collaborative member agencies and external experts. The MSDC Steering Committee envisions using project groups on a cross-regional level, aligned with an MSDC research agenda. This mechanism to build the product pipeline will be implemented in 2024.


State agency leaders across the country are driving the emergence and sustainability of the MSDC. This work is being supported by NASWA, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO), the Coleridge Initiative, and other partners and funders. This webpage is a joint partner effort, led by state agency leaders, to provide public information about the MSDC, including their activities and products.