Fast and Fabulous Data When You’re in a Hurry
We have all been there before: the grant is due in a week (or maybe tomorrow) and it is 3:00 a.m. and you have to find data to support your grant proposal as soon as possible. As a self-proclaimed data nerd, I am giving you my favorite sources to find fabulous facts in a pinch. The information below is a mix of resources for elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education.
Demographic and Socioeconomic Data
This site contains a wealth of information. If you are looking for basic demographic information about your community, go straight to “Quickfacts” located in the middle of the home page. Start by entering your state. Then drill down to county, city, or community data. Find facts on population, educational attainment, poverty levels, income, and more.
Look for the “Address Search” to look up census data at the address level.
Family Well-Being, Health
Find data on child and family well-being. You can see data by state as well as comparison data between states. You can also access a mobile-friendly version of the site.
- Public health departments by state and county
Find state, county, health department, and city health statistics tables, health-care statistics, vital statistics, and more. For example, here is the data for Michigan: http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,4612,7-132-2944—,00.html.
Look up your school or district for enrollment information and National School Lunch Program statistics.
Find information about evidence-based best practices in education. This is very important for federal grant applications!
- State Departments of Education
Locate individual school and district “report cards” and profiles. For example, here is Illinois’ Interactive Report Card: http://iirc.niu.edu/.
Use this to find other literacy programs in your area for comparison or potential collaboration.
- State Departments of Community and Economic Development
Find information on economically distressed areas, county profiles, and more for your state.
- Local online newspapers
Use these sources to find recent news about your school, district, or institution. This is often a good source for learning about new programs, challenges, and budget issues.
Labor and Workforce Data
Find links to regional information offices, employment rates, and wages.
Look at occupation projections by group.
- State Departments of Labor/Workforce Development
See employment rates and wages by occupation.
Comparison Data and National Data
Get real-time updates for 19 key economic indicators released from the US Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Bureau of Economic Analysis. Key economic measures on employment, manufacturing, international trade, retail sales, and residential construction and sales allow those who follow the US economy to be the first to see trends over time and whether the indicator has gone up or down since the previous report.
Find quick facts on a range of educational issues, from early childhood to adult learning.
Locate fast national facts on education, literacy, and reading. One caveat: while the statistics come with references, some are dated—proceed with caution.
Find several references to literacy issues.
Look up, compare, and rank postsecondary institutions on various variables. Variables include Institutional Characteristics, Pricing and Tuition, Admissions, Completions, 12-month Enrollment, Fall Enrollment, Graduation Rates, Student Financial Aid, Finance, and Human Resources.
Search for statewide information about elementary/secondary education characteristics and finance, postsecondary education, public libraries, assessments, and selected demographics for all states. You can compare up to four states at a time.
Evidence-Based Best Practices
- Association for Institutional Research: Data and Decision for Higher Education
- Community College Research Center
About the Author: Barbara Norris Coates is Grant Development Consultant from La Grange Highlands, Illinois. She specializes in higher education.