December is a time when people think about making charitable contributions. Yesterday was Giving Tuesday, a date soon after Black Friday when people are encouraged to spend money to make the world a better place.
But which charities and causes to contribute to? There are some useful websites, like Charity Navigator, that review nonprofits to see which may be the most effective and best run. They often only cover large organizations, and not smaller, local ones. This is where PolicyMap can be a useful tool.
Let’s say you live in Poughkeepsie, and want to give to a local organization there. You can go to PolicyMap, and load data from the National Center for Charitable Statistics from the Add Sites menu.
Those are your nonprofit organizations in and around Poughkeepsie. But let’s say you want to narrow it further. You can choose a specific type of organization to show. Let’s say you want to see housing and shelter organizations. Go to filters, look through the categories, and click on the one that interests you. Now the map only shows those organizations:
There’s a manageable number of organizations you can look into. You can click on the points for more details.
The NCCS Nonprofit Locations data is available only to subscribers. If you’re not a subscriber, sign up for a 10-day free trial to see this and other data that might be useful to you.
Be generous! Happy giving!
Have you ever received this message?
There’s a good explanation for why you did: the geographic shapes of 2010 block groups changed so much from 2000 that comparing one to the other would constantly provide misleading data. So we don’t show it.
Here at PolicyMap, we try to keep the complicated things about data display (like vintages and versions of boundaries) as uncomplicated and un-bothersome as possible for our users. But we like to keep our more curious users informed about the decisions we make regarding these inconvenient, but necessary, issues. Here I’ll explain why we’ve decided to avoid comparing block group values across years.
When we engineered PolicyMap to work with both the 2000 and the 2010 Census boundaries, we took our cues from the Census. For tracts and larger geographies like counties, the Census provided documentation and bridge tables for changes from 2000 to 2010. But for block groups, they didn’t include any explanation, presumably in part because of block groups’ inconsistent nature. Their names changed and their shapes moved with reckless abandon. So we decided that it wasn’t in our or our users’ best interest to produce that bridge for our maps. As such, we determined that 2000 block group values can’t be reliably compared to 2010 values.
However, you may notice that if you run a Report for a 2010 block group, we do provide an estimate of the percent change in population for that block group from 2000 to 2010. We created this estimate using a bridge table we crafted. However, because that bridge table didn’t come directly from the Census, we didn’t feel comfortable employing it in our Tables feature.
We’re always happy to discuss our data stewardship decisions with our users. If you’ve gotten this far in this blog post and have additional questions for us about our approach, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Our recently updated school district performance data from GreatSchools includes ratings for schools and school districts. These ratings, on a scale from 1 to 10, can be confusing. A rating of 9 or 10 means it’s probably a pretty good school, and 1 or 2 might raise concerns. But what if your local school district gets a 4? What does that mean? Jessica Kelmon at GreatSchools has written a blog post that explains the rating system, and how there’s more to consider than just the test scores, which the ratings are based on. Read her article here.
GreatSchools school and school district data is available on PolicyMap to subscribers. The school-level data is in the “Schools and Libraries” menu in the “Add Sites” section to the left of the map, and the school district data is in the “Education” menu in the “Add Data Layer” section above the map.
Home Sale Statistics – Q1 2007 through Q1 2013
Home sale data is now available through the first quarter of 2013 on PolicyMap, allowing you to track how the markets in which you work have changed on a quarterly or annual basis since 2007. Use PolicyMap to find information on the number of residential sales, median sales price, aggregate value of home sale activity, loan-to-value ratio, and quarterly and annual percent changes in sales and prices. Data is available at the block group, tract, zip code, place and county.
This data comes from Boxwood Means, Inc., a value added reseller of residential and commercial real-estate data and is available to PolicyMap subscribers only. You’ll find this data in the Real Estate tab. Learn more.
The Federal Reserve Board, along with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, recently invited PolicyMap to participate in a new initiative called the Community Leaders Forum. The Forum’s purpose is to test ways for the Fed to support rising community leaders and to help the Fed to understand the implications of emerging trends on underserved communities. The idea is to improve the community development field through peer-to-peer learning and to improve the Fed’s Community Development function’s understanding of and response to emerging trends, and their impact on underserved consumers and communities.
Each of the three participating banks brought four rising leaders to Washington, DC, last week to discuss the issues that we’re finding in our communities and among our clients. We discussed issues ranging from the many challenges of homeownership in post-recession underserved communities to managing the costs and benefits of college education, considering the current cost of education.
We were introduced to numerous fascinating Fed employees and appointees, including Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin, and Sandra Braunstein, to name only a few of those who generously shared their time and insights with us. We also received a tour of the beautiful Board building, and we were given the chance to network with many Federal Reserve Board and Bank dignitaries on various occasions.
Using Knowledge Central, the Fed’s online collaboration tool, our hosts and the members of the Community Leaders Forum have already continued the conversation from last week’s meeting. We look forward to future stimulating and insightful thoughts from our colleagues and our friends at the Fed!
In addition to compiling data from a variety of public and private sources, some of the datasets we are most excited to make available to our users are in-house analyses done here at The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) by our Policy Solutions department. Located in the TRF Analytics tab, the spatial analyses in this section include locations of Limited Supermarket Areas (LSAs), distance to the nearest performing school, and TRF’s proprietary Market Value Analysis (MVA) studies. In line with TRF’s data-centric approach to community development, the MVA uses spatial and statistical cluster analysis to simultaneously evaluate multiple factors in a community, with the final output being a characterization of the markets within the study area by block group. For the cities that commission it, the MVA provides a data-driven way to assess where to invest limited resources and is the first step toward restoring market viability in distressed communities.
Though the No Child Left Behind Act continues to be controversial, there’s no denying the vast amount of school performance data it has created over the years since its inception. Years of nationwide standardized testing have created a trove of data, much of it available on PolicyMap.
For free, PolicyMap users can access school district reading and math scores for 4th grade, 8th grade, and high school. This data, showing the percentage of students in the district who are “at or above proficient”, comes by way of the New America Foundation. It’s available in the Education menu, under “Overall Student Proficiency”.
Users looking to get a little more in-depth and wide-ranging data should look at our GreatSchools district performance data. This data isn’t limited to specific grades and subjects; it has a huge selection of different tests, subjects, and grades to look at. Want to know which school districts in New York did the best on the 11th grade French Regents Exam? Or the Virginia high school test of Virginia and United Station History? It’s all included.
News is out this morning that the Atlanta Braves, who’ve played in Turner Field in downtown Atlanta for 17 years, will be moving in 2017 to a new stadium in suburban Cobb County. Since they already play in a nice, relatively new stadium, this is causing all kinds of controversy. That said, it’s recognized in baseball circles that the Braves draw a relatively small crowd relative to the consistent success the team has experienced. (Full disclosure: most of us here at PolicyMap are Phillies fans, and are still haunted by the Braves’ decades of dominance. Chipper Jones will forever give me nightmares.)
So why are the Braves moving out of Atlanta? The team released a map of their ticket sales, showing the location of all their ticket buyers, their current stadium, and their new stadium (image from homeofthebraves.com):
Looks like there are a lot more Braves fans in the northern suburbs, right? Well, let’s look at another map, of household incomes in the Atlanta area:
When you look at this map, it looks like the Braves aren’t necessarily moving to where the fans are, but to where the money is. Incomes are higher in the northern suburbs, and so that’s where the ticket buyers are coming from. Fans in Atlanta or in the southern suburbs will be out of luck.
Take a look at PolicyMap and look at how some of the other demographic indicators look around Atlanta. You can see how the Braves are making a smart business decision by using GIS and mapping, but that not everyone’s going to benefit from the move.
Many of our subscribers are familiar with PolicyMap’s New Markets eligibility data, which is one of the easiest ways to find areas that qualify for this competitive program. With newly updated New Markets projects data (located at the bottom of the Federal Guidelines tab,) anyone interested in New Markets tax credits can also see the impact of the program at the state, zip, and census tract levels.
The New Markets Tax Credit is a federal incentive designed to spur investment in low-income communities. The program, which went into effect in 2002, has awarded over 35 billion dollars of investing power nationwide to organizations that serve and remain accountable to low-income communities and/or persons –certified Community Development Entities (CDEs). CDEs, which are often affiliated with banks or CDFIs, draw equity investments from investors and disperse those funds through real estate and business transactions to businesses that qualify to receive them. The amount of equity raised is determined by the NMTC allocation. NMTC Projects also include leveraged, non-QLICI funds that account for a large percentage of total project costs. There are a lot of acronyms used in reference to the NMTC process; here is a quick vocabulary lesson:
Community Development Entity certified by the CDFI Fund
Qualified Equity Investments: NMTC Allocation allows the CDE to raise a certain dollar amount from investors in exchange for tax credits.
The CDE uses the funds from QEIs to make Qualifying Low Income Community Investments. These can be capital investments, loans, or transfers to other CDEs.
Qualified Low-Income Community Businesses operating in low-income communities are eligible to receive the QLICI.