We have all been there. It’s time to draft a problem statement, and as grant professionals we know data is a necessary element to prove the need for our community. So where do you start? If you did not immediately think “the U.S. Census Bureau”, let me encourage you to always leap to that conclusion.
And why wouldn’t you? The mission of the U.S. Census Bureau is to “serve as the nation’s leading provider of quality data about its people and economy.” Their goal? “To provide the best mix of timelines, relevancy, quality, and cost for the data we collect and services we provide.”
If that doesn’t convince you, I’ll let the data do the talking. The U.S. Census Bureau website (www.census.gov) has thousands of tables full of social, economic, housing, and demographic data. Using the data, you can build customized maps. Data can be drilled down to over 100,000 different geographies, including states, counties, places, tribal areas, zip codes, congressional districts, and census tracts. You can browse by topic, from at-home workers to zip code business patterns. You can learn about Baby Boomers, school districts, occupations, nativity, foreign trade, poverty, building permits, transportation, and so much more.
With so much to sift through on the website, it can be overwhelming to know where to even begin. But never fear – the U.S. Census Bureau joined the Fundraising HayDay podcast to talk and share resources galore. Marilyn E. Stephens, Data Dissemination Specialist, talks geography, data tables, and more on the latest episode here: Show Me the Data | Fundraising HayDay (podbean.com).
She also so kindly shared a link to the Table Shells and Table List here: Table Shells and Table List (census.gov). This is where you can see the layout of tables, to better understand the data available, how it’s laid out, and the table ID. Each specific table ID shares incredibly unique information. For example, TABLE ID B07004I shares the geographical mobility in the past year (Hispanic or Latino) for current residences in the United States.
The best place to start is the Census Academy. You can sign up for upcoming webinars, as well as view previous webinars, check out the Data Gems (a series of video how-tos), and watch specific 2020 census courses. My cohost, Kimberly Hays de Muga, suggests grant professionals start with this webinar from August 2022: Using Census Bureau Data for Grant Writing.
Our podcast guest, Marilyn, encouraged our listeners to check out the website, dig into the data, and reach out with questions. They have the data we need; we just need to know where to find it. So, get started today!
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