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Our Work

At SPPG, we take pride in our work. Check out a few of our current and past research clients to see our work in action. 


DMPS Virtual Campus Needs Assessment

To expand its teaching opportunities for students in Des Moines and across the state of Iowa, Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) explored the need for a “virtual campus,” an online school to teach students entirely or primarily online.

Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) hired SPPG to help them explore their community’s interest in virtual schooling. The online school would provide the same or very similar content and benefits as provided by a brick and mortar school (learning materials, online exercises, self-paced courses, live online classes, tests, web forums, etc.) but delivers these classes through the internet. The instructional models under consideration by DMPS would range from distance learning types which provides study materials and web-based discussions for asynchronous instruction, to real time, interactive classes where students work with a teacher as a group or individually via an audio-visual application.


Our team conducted six focus groups, telephone, and online surveys with DMPS administrators and educators, DMPS high school students in grades 9-12, and central Iowa parents with children in grades 6-12 to provide DMPS with data from their stakeholders. Our qualitative and quantitative research gave DMPS the information needed to assess the advantages and disadvantages to online learning among DMPS students and parents, the perceptions of the DMPS virtual campus, and the likelihood students would enroll in the virtual campus. In August 2019, the DMPS Virtual Campus earned accreditation from the Iowa Department of Education, becoming the first online high school developed in Iowa.


Concerns about COVID-19 in Iowa

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought change to our everyday lives, leading to unprecedented shifts in consumer behavior. As the state of Iowa continues to move towards economic recovery, SPPG in partnership with the Business Record, an Iowa-based media company, conducted a statewide online survey to explore the sentiment around what safety measures businesses and Iowans need to take for residents to feel safe returning to work, traveling, dining out, shopping, and attending events in our new COVID-19 world.


A total of 928 online surveys were completed among Iowa employers/business decision makers; Iowans employed full-time and part-time, furloughed or unemployed; students, homemakers, and retired residents.


What we learned in 2020: The results, among the 928 Iowans surveyed, were notable in important ways that will impact when and under what conditions Iowans are willing to return to their offices and engage more fully in the economy. Iowans are gradually getting ready to get back outdoors, to the stores, restaurants and other venues.  And while most are not ready to return to the office or large-sale public events, they have clear expectations about what the office setting will be like when they do. It’s going to be different!  The online survey data provided a road map for employers to welcome employees and customers back to the office.  

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Iowa Department of Human Rights – Data/Status Report

The Iowa Department of Human Rights (DHR) advocates for underserved and underrepresented Iowans by educating individuals, businesses and government entities about the needs, rights, and responsibilities of all Iowans. To effectively advocate for the underserved, recommend policies and programs to empower underrepresented Iowans, and achieve the Department’s mission, the DHR required statewide data to identify the indicators of success for the underserved and underrepresented populations.

SPPG was hired by the Department of Human Rights to compile a comprehensive report that illustrated the various challenges and successes of underrepresented and underserved populations in Iowa, including African Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, Latinos, Native Americans, People with Disabilities, People who are Deaf, and Women. Our team also provided a framework for how to best report on the specific indicators of success for the underserved and underrepresented populations in Iowa.


The compilation of the Data/Status Report was an extensive year-long project (September 2018 – September 2019), and included 111 interviews (in-person and telephone interviews) with the agency director, DHR commissioners, Community Action Agency Directors, and community leaders throughout the state of Iowa, and a total of 161 in-person interviews with underserved and underrepresented Iowans. The purpose of these interviews was to explore challenges, discuss success stories, and to gather a clear understanding of the range of views present within and among the different populations. Our team traversed the state to meet these community members in libraries, community centers, homeless shelters, colleges, and more to talk about their lives, families, hopes, goals, and struggles. Staff approached each interview with empathy and confidentiality as each person shared vulnerable parts of their lives to help us create a report that was realistic and representative of their experiences.


The Data/Status Report has been used by the Department to assess the changing needs and the current opportunities for the populations they serve, prioritize the work of the Department, identify key partnerships for the Department in serving Iowans, and provide data for the Department’s Commissions to fulfill their roles in recommending policies and programs. The Department will use the framework established in this report to update the information for 2021.

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