Lumen Impact Group
Lumen Impact Group

Unlocking Success with a Dash of Data: How Data Storytelling Helps Tell the Full Story for Schools and Nonprofits

Published: July 8, 2024

By Cori Egan, Junior Partner

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” — Ferris Bueller might have been talking about seizing the day, but we at Lumen like to think he was also hinting at the importance of data analysis and sensemaking in keeping up with the ever-evolving landscape of education and nonprofit work.

When schools hear the word “data,” they often imagine rows of numbers, test scores, and performance metrics. Sure, performance is part of the story, but it’s like watching a movie on mute—you miss out on the richness of the dialogue, the soundtrack, and the full picture if you’re not looking a little deeper. At Lumen, our research team believes in turning up the volume on all aspects of data, embracing both the numbers and the narratives to help schools and nonprofits see a path forward.

Imagine a school as a vibrant ecosystem. Scholars’ performance data might be the trees, but what about the undergrowth, the soil, the water? That’s where qualitative data—interviews, focus groups, survey responses—comes in. We don’t just look at what the numbers say; we listen to the voices behind them. By talking to real people within the building—teachers, administrators, students, and even community members—we capture the essence of the school’s culture, governance, instruction, and overall environment. We can then help schools make sense of these data, decide where to focus energy, and how to adjust or create a strategy to tackle areas of interest or of needed improvement.

This isn’t just true for schools. It applies to our work with nonprofits as well. We work with nonprofits striving to improve their culture, create efficiencies, and strengthen their services to communities, other organizations, and clients. While nonprofits may not have a foundation of scholars’ performance data, they often have a wealth of quantitative data—metrics on how many people they’re reaching, how much funding they’re securing, or satisfaction data on how their services are perceived. Lumen helps these nonprofits collect and make sense of that data, and supplement that with qualitative data that we can collect. Then, we sift through the seemingly insurmountable spreadsheets of numbers, honing in on the data that will help them achieve their goals. By combining this focused quantitative data with rich qualitative insights, nonprofits can see a clearer path to maximize their impact.

This isn’t just data collection; it’s data storytelling. Schools and nonprofits partner with Lumen to paint a complete picture of their successes and challenges. This holistic approach transforms how they understand their journey and plot their path forward. When schools and nonprofits leverage a robust data portfolio, they’re equipped to make informed decisions that reflect the true heartbeat of their community.

So, next time you think of data, channel your inner Ferris Bueller. Take a moment to stop, look around, and listen. Because at Lumen, we’re here to help you not just see the numbers, but hear the stories and unlock the full potential of your organization


"Lisa did a fantastic job with our entire strategic planning team. Her process was beyond organized. As a new administrator, I was able to lean on Lisa for her expertise and knowledge of strategic planning. She did everything from meeting organization and to facilitating subgroups, focus groups and staff culture surveys. Her work with the school board and administrative team was respectful, while also filled with appropriate advice and constructive feedback. I could not imagine going through this process without Lisa. She will continue to be a trusted resource for years to come."
Jamie DeWitt
School Leader, NexTech High School
"Lumen Impact Group has been critical in supporting Bluum’s efforts in Idaho to manage our $17.1 million federal Charter School Program grant. As one of the country’s first non-profit organizations to receive federal CSP funding, the stakes for our work are very high, and our efforts to help open, expand and replicate public charter schools face scrutiny. I sleep better knowing Lumen Impact Group has worked closely with us to build our processes, procedures and playbook for managing the responsibility of directing and overseeing a significant federal grant. I highly recommend them to others. They are true pros."
Terry Ryan
CEO, Bluum
"As a family-owned and operated company, we needed to preserve our culture and define our mission, vision and values better as we grew. Lumen Impact Group helped capture a variety of diverse perspectives and hopes for the future in a way that connected everyone involved. Lumen Impact Group helped us create a clear strategic focus and for our future stabilized our culture. Lisa also coached our leadership team in supporting implementation."
Mark Smith
President, Krapohl Ford & Lincoln
"Lisa Diaz and Lumen Impact provided invaluable support to Colorado Charter Facility Solutions during our start-up phase. I was the new non-profit organization’s executive director (and only employee at the time), and Lisa knew answers to questions that I did not even know to ask. She made sure the board of directors was set up correctly and that the organizational documents were in place. Lisa helped me establish the organization’s goals and ways to track progress. Lisa is organized, patient and kind, and worked quickly, thoroughly and collaboratively. She is a good listener and even acted as an executive coach/therapist at times. When necessary, Lisa can be direct, yet she is always focused on the goals of the organization and its success. I highly recommend Lisa Diaz and Lumen Impact Group. "
Jane Ellis
Executive Director, Colorado Charter Facility Solutions
"I have worked with Lumen Impact Group at both the individual and organizational level. As a coach, Lisa has a natural ability to get to the heart of the matter quickly and to ask questions that help her clients translate insight into action. Each team member who has worked with Lisa in a coaching capacity has demonstrated visible growth that has positively impacted individual and team performance. As an organization, we are trying to be purposeful about the culture we are creating, as a means of best fulfilling our mission. Lumen Impact Group has been a tremendous thought partner along the way and has facilitated critical steps in a collaborative yet efficient and fun way. Our team was in awe at how much we accomplished collectively in a short period of time. We are moving toward our ideal culture much more quickly than I thought possible, and I have no doubt it is because of Lumen Impact Group’s guidance. "
Kasey Miller
Chief of Staff, National Association of Charter School Authorizers