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Kathleen Campbell Garwood, Hayley Miles, Joao Neiva de Figueiredo, Miguel Marca

Serving the poorest of the poor through targeted education: Using the business classroom to help Fe y Alegria-Bolivia schools with analytics and pattern visualization

This paper describes the analytical support that a Saint Joseph’s University (SJU) Haub School’s Data Mining class has provided over the past three academic years to Fe y Alegría in Bolivia (FyA:B), a Jesuit-sponsored institution dedicated to education of the poorest of the poor in over twenty countries, mostly in Latin America. The paper details the involvement of undergraduate business school students as global citizens helping FyA:B identify from survey data alone Bolivian high-school students in the most unfavorable socio-economic condition, i.e., those who might most benefit from school reach-out efforts and teacher attention in order to prosper. This initiative is an important social sustainability instrument in an environment of very limited resources as it supports Fe y Alegría’s core mission of providing justice-based education for those who need it most while also helping business school students in the U.S. increase their awareness of vastly different realities. The paper provides contextual foundation and historical background for this ongoing initiative and then describes its evolution over time as sequential cohorts of students in a data-mining semester-long class focus on the issue and, through live interactions with FyA:B in several iterations, have engaged in continuous analysis improvement and tool fine-tuning. The paper lists the statistical methods used in the business classroom and describes different survey response data-bases, but focuses mostly on the social impact of the initiative. In closing, the paper provides an example of the work done: a web-based data visualization instrument which allows for very efficient examination of survey answers.