Benchmark Data Labs Announces Plan to Sunset

South Dakota nonprofit dedicated to improving Black Hills communities through research and analysis of public data will close later this year

The board of Benchmark Data Labs, a non-profit consultancy based in Rapid City, SD, today announced the organization will cease operations in 2022. The decision to sunset the organization culminates a 13-year journey to provide critical data and information to strengthen Black Hills communities and follows a transition of leadership and changing needs for services in the region.

Benchmark Data Labs (BDL) was formed in 2020 as an extension of the Black Hills Knowledge Network (BHKN), an initiative launched by the Rapid City Public Library in cooperation with various city agencies in 2009. With funding from the Black Hills Area Community Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Bush Foundation, the Black Hills Knowledge Network developed the South Dakota Dashboard, the region’s first digital platform for policymakers and engaged citizens to understand and track the impacts of housing, education, health and other key indicators on their communities. BDL expanded the dashboard, later serving thousands of decision-makers and local media a day during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, BDL expanded data services to include economic analysis, program evaluation, and outreach for governments, nonprofits, and businesses to make critical decisions about programs and services. In three years, BDL projects supported investments in and improvements to services in the areas of education attainment, childcare, healthcare, affordable housing, criminal justice, and more.

“We have come a long way in empowering communities and organizations in the Black Hills to access knowledge and information they can use to thrive in our ever more complicated world,” stated Jared McEntaffer, CEO of BDL, “In 13 years, the Black Hills Knowledge Network and BDL fostered a culture of data-driven decision making in the region. We helped communities and organizations leverage data to achieve their goals.”

“The work of Black Hills Knowledge Network and Benchmark Data Labs has substantially improved the ability of organizations in the region to make strategic, data-driven decisions on behalf of our communities,” said Jamie Toennies, executive director of United Way of the Black Hills and board chair at BDL, “The decision to sunset the organization was difficult but a natural step in the mission cycle for nonprofits. We are extremely proud of all BDL accomplished and believe the legacy will positively influence Black Hills communities for years to come.”

In sunsetting, the BDL board will determine the future of the South Dakota Dashboard and distribute remaining assets to organizations in South Dakota with a similar mission to improve the quality of life in the region through access to data. Current projects will conclude in June of 2022.

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