Pittsburgh Street Chat Case Study

About the Survey

In partnership with The Grable Foundation, The Forbes Funds, The Heinz Endowments, and The Pittsburgh Foundation, CommunityConnect Labs embarked on a study to better understand how Pittsburgh residents learn about employment opportunities, job training, childcare, schools, and parenting advice.

We also wanted to learn more about who influences their decisions. We created a panel of 408 participants, majority being people of color in Pittsburgh neighborhoods of McKees Rocks, Beltzhoover, Knoxville, and Allentown from December 2015 to March 2016 using text messaging to connect with hard-to-reach populations. Participants activated the survey by texting a code or a number from their mobile phones to a toll-free number.

A remote server sent survey questions up to 160-characters to participants' mobile phones; participants answered by texting back their answers. 86% of participants completed the survey and 78% opted to take future surveys.

55% of participants are currently job seekers, or have been in the past 6 months

Are you looking for a new job or have you looked in the past six months?
SMS survey responses - employment status

Our data reveals that across all neighborhoods, an average of 62% of participants are currently employed on a full-time or part-time basis. 55% of participants are currently job seekers or have been in the past six months. 36% of participants find it difficult to get information about local jobs and job training opportunities.

“If you want just any 9-5 job that doesn't pay enough to survive, then that's easy to find. We've got plenty of those. If you want something more sustainable, it's hard to find.”

- Donn, long-time resident of the Hilltop

Hilltop resident

52% of participants learn about job opportunities through websites or from friends

52% of participants learn about job opportunities through websites or from friends.

Where do you get info about Job Opportunities?
SMS survey responses - job opportunities information

Participants find information about job training opportunities through websites and friends

SMS survey responses - job training opportunities

Younger participants find information about job training opportunities through websites and friends. Websites are the most popular source for information on raising kids. Only 8% of participants report trusting other parents, a teacher, or a coach. Most people report trusting family for advice on raising kids, especially African-Americans.

Participants with at least a Bachelor's degree are more likely to drive their own car to work

More than 70% of participants are taking the bus or driving to work. Women and young adults (under age 26) are more likely to commute by bus. Participants who have at least a Bachelor's degree are more likely to drive their own car to work. The most common mode of transporting children to school is the bus.

SMS survey responses - transportation

Only 20% of participants send their children to a childcare center or preschool

Who takes care of your child?
SMS survey responses - child care

63% of parents report a relative or friend is the only person other than their partner who is taking care of their child (outside of school).  Only 20% of parents send their children to a childcare center or preschool. Quality is the top factor in choosing childcare.

81% of participants are satisfied
with their child's school

81% of participants over the age of 40 have school-aged children. Only 65% of the participants’ children attend public schools. 88% of the children in Hilltop attend public schools compared to 62% in McKees Rocks. 81% of participants are satisfied with the school their child attends. Parents are less likely to be satisfied with public schools.

"My youngest goes to charter school and the other two attend public schools. I'm very satisfied with their schools. They are very welcoming and communicate with me."

- Donn, long-time resident of the Hilltop

How satisfied are you with the school your child attends?
SMS survey responses - school satisfaction

Websites are the most popular source for information on raising kids

SMS survey responses - raising kids information

Websites are the most popular source for information on raising kids. Participants also ranked family (a write-in answer) as an important source, above TV shows, books, or magazines. This is true across all education levels.

The higher the education level, the more likely participants are to report websites as a source of information about raising kids.

SMS survey responses - child raising info by educational level