Community LifeRAFT

Community LifeRAFT provides rich data stories and visualization dashboards using US Census Decennial and economic data sets to understand the demographic structure, identify financial vulnerabilities and explore community financial resilience metrics.
Picture of Community LifeRAFT

The Community LifeRAFT Project combines data sets from the US Decennial Census, the American Community Survey 2019, and Community Resilience Estimates to produce rich visualizations and stories utilizing the Harvard ArcGIS tool.

The Community LifeRAFT Project is the work of four Harvard University (HES, HGSD) Students - Claudia Molina, Alan Tebuev, Jody Elizabeth Trumbull (HES), and Filip Wodnicki, along with metaLAB advisor, Kim Albrecht, in conjunction with The Opportunity Project of the United States Census Department.

The team focused on delivering a functional tool to apply Census and other industry economic data sets to strengthen knowledge and enhance data visualizations and stories to understand better the ten factors defined by the U.S. Census that challenge family resilience. The data tool is available at no charge to nonprofit organizations and institutions advocating for underserved communities.

Community LifeRAFT debuted at The Opportunity Project Summit hosted by the U.S. Census Department in December 2021. The two teams representing Harvard University from metaLAB were selected from dozens of entries by universities across the country to participate in the summit. The summit followed a year-long series of activities for the US Census Department.

At the TOP Summit, the student team members participated in live product demonstrations and round-table presentations showcasing the Community LifeRAFT product during the summit. The team developed a landing page to house the portal to the data tool.

At the summit, user advocates learned how to access the portal, define data parameters, and scope the individual aspects of their community. The team tool utilizes the HarvardGIS to provide user advocates a means to develop robust visualizations and data stories portraying neighborhood economic resilience specific to their communities. The portal has already attracted nearly 100 viewers.

Currently, the Community LifeRAFT tool analyzes community resiliency factors. The team is adding new data sets and features to the tool kit over the next few months. To demo the product, visit to access the portal. For unique product demonstrations and discussion of additional data set integrations and story development, sign-up at the bottom of the landing page, and a team member will respond.