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Poole College Analysis Shows 5,000 Wake County Children Sleep Without a Bed of Their Own

Since 2012, The Green Chair Project (TGCP) in Raleigh has been developing a special initiative within the non-profit organization – The Sweeter Dreams Bed Program – to provide brand new beds for children in Wake County who have been sleeping on the floor or sharing a bed.

It’s part of the ‘furnishing lives with dignity’ philosophy that is at the core of The Green Chair Project, a nonprofit organization that enables households in transition from homelessness or in disaster recovery to furnish their homes with gently used household goods.

“Sleep studies have shown that a lack of sleep does have a negative impact on the individual,” said Jackie Craig, executive director and co-founder of The Green Chair Project. “But if you consider the working poor – once they pay for rent and transportation, they don’t have the money to buy a bed,” she said.

Knowing that situation led Craig and Beth Smoot, TGCP co-founder and board member, to launch The Sweeter Dreams Bed Program, to help assure children in Wake County can get a good night’s sleep so they can be alert and engaged in school the next day.

“Social workers in the schools let us know when they learn a child has a need for a bed,” Craig said. As business-minded leaders of a non-profit, Craig and Smoot sought hard data to include when submitting requests for grants and other funding “to help combat the expense of buying the beds,” she said

“We knew they needed beds, but had no idea how many,” Craig said.

To help analyze the size of the need, Craig turned to the NC State Poole College of Management’s undergraduate Business Analytics Honors Program. The program requires students to complete a practicum course that pairs up student teams with organizations to provide data for their data-driven planning. The Sweeter Dreams Bed Program’s need for data was a good fit for the academic program.

In its first year, TGCP had distributed 17 new twin-size beds – frame, box springs, mattress, sheets, pillow and blankets – through the Sweeter Dreams program. The total distributed to date: just over 1,720 fully outfitted beds.

Poole College student team members Ethan Chlebowski, Will Brooks and Sarah Stansell conducted the Sweeter Dreams study prior to graduating in spring 2016. They compiled and analyzed data that was available to them through a variety of sources, including results of a survey of social workers in Wake County schools conducted by TGCP, publicly available demographic and other data from the schools, and information received from TGCP participants.

The students found that there was an average unmet need for beds of around 10 percent of the student population. They also found a positive correlation between the number of students receiving beds and the number of students in the Federal Reduced Lunch Program (FRLP).

When the results were based on total school enrollment, the number of students needing beds was 9,730; when based on the student population that qualified for the Federal Reduced Lunch Program, the number of students needing beds was 4,665.

The business analytics honors students also created infographics to present the data in an easily understood manner.

Projected bed needs by median household income, by Wake County Zip codes, for FRLP-qualifying households. (2016 data).

One of those was this graph (left) that shows median household income ranging from $0-39,700 for the lightest blue sectors in the graph, to $66,800 – $501-000 for the darkest blue sectors. Projected unmet bed need ranged from one, represented by the smallest circle to 130, shown by the largest circle.

The Green Chair Project team has been using a number of just over 5,000 as it plans fundraising and applies for grants in support of the Sweeter Dreams Program.

In addition to this project with the Poole College of Management, TGCP has recently been selected to participate in the Design It Forward class, through the Institute for Nonprofits based in the Hunt Library on NC State’s Centennial Campus.

About the Business Analytics Honors Program at the NC State Poole College of Management 

The NC State Poole College of Management provides an exciting opportunity for select Poole College undergraduate honors students pursuing bachelor’s degrees in accounting, business administration or economics. This academic option has been designed to prepare Poole College students for careers in the high-demand field of business analytics. Entry into the program is competitive and by application only.

The Business Analytics Honors Program was established in Poole College in response to a need identified by a wide range of employers seeking qualified candidates for this increasingly vital skill set in business and industry. The curriculum combines rigorous classroom instruction with experiential learning through a practicum course that engages students with local employers to work on real world data analytics projects. Scott Showalter, director of the Jenkins Master of Accounting program and professor of practice at Poole College, is the faculty contact for the Business Analytics Honors program.

This post was originally published in Poole College of Management News.