New point-level Community College and 4-Year University Data

“In the coming years, jobs requiring at least an associate degree are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience. We will not fill those jobs – or keep those jobs on our shores – without the training offered by community colleges.” – President Barack Obama

During Barack Obama’s tenure as President, he has continually stressed the need for strengthening our nation’s community college system, pledging to boost federal funding by $12 billion over a 10 year period. As America enters an increasingly competitive global economy, our higher education system will need to keep pace with other nations. Meanwhile, American student loan debt has now climbed north of a $1 trillion, raising concerns that college students will delay homeownership and starting a family as a result of the burden. Issues related to higher education are deeply significant to our country, and require greater examination from policy-makers.

PolicyMap just introduced a comprehensive point-level data for both Community Colleges and 4-Year Colleges and Universities, originating from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). You can now see institutions of higher learning mapped out geographically, each with a wealth of descriptive indicators. Data for institutions of higher education includes:

- Contact information
- Categorical information
- Tuition
- Enrollment, retention, and graduation rates
- Demographics

Our filter feature allows you to extract just the information you need. Are you only looking for public universities with 20,000+ students with retention rates of 70-89% that offers Medical degrees? PolicyMap has you covered. You can also take advantage of our color-code feature to make your map coherent. The map below shows the distribution of colleges by Institutional Control (Public, Private, etc.) distinguished by color.

You can find the data under our Education tab, so come see for yourself!

Data mapped by PolicyMap, an online GIS mapping tool.

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Celebrating Farmers’ Market Data -and much more- from USDA

Just in time for 2014 National Farmers’ Market Week, August 3 – 9, we have updated data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers’ Market Directory on PolicyMap. The Directory is a project of the Agricultural Marketing Service, an agency that runs programs to increase awareness of agricultural products at home and abroad. Last Friday, August 1st, PolicyMap continued its participation in NYU GovLab’s Open Data 500 series of roundtables by visiting the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C, home to its very own farmers’ market:

The USDA Farmers' Market is next to a low- food access tract, according to ERS
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It Turns Out, Everyone Loves Education Data

I spent last week at the National Center for Education Statistics STATS-DC Data Conference in Washington. Unlike Comic-Con, at this conference, heroes came costumed as agency administrations and data researchers. A large majority of the attendees were school administrators faced with the herculean task of collecting all sorts of mandated data from their districts. The rest of us were data users saying, “We want more data! More data please!”

The conference opened with a keynote speech by Catherine Lhamon, the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education. She talked about the Civil Rights Data Collection produced by the Office for Civil Rights. The CRDC is a really great dataset we’re hard at work trying to get on PolicyMap. It has really interesting stuff at the school level, like number of disciplinary events (broken down by race and sex), AP classes offered, sports and arts programs offered, teacher salaries, and tons more. It’s cool stuff.

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Map the Meal Gap Data

There is new data on PolicyMap! Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap project has provided 2012 food insecurity data on the state and local level. The data contains information regarding child food insecurity rates, percentage of food insecure persons eligible for nutrition assistance programs, and the average cost per meal. Together, this describes hunger beyond the homeless and poverty stricken.

So, what is food insecurity? Map the Meal Gap is a part of the movement to change how people view and approach the issue of hunger in the US. Instead of concentrating on the Continue reading

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Welcome Jonah Taylor to the PolicyMap team!

We are thrilled to welcome Jonah Taylor to the PolicyMap team as our new User Interface (UI) Designer! We first met Jonah while he was as an intern with The Reinvestment Fund’s communications department. During his internship, Jonah became key in helping us undertake our first major (and award winning!) UI redesign effort.

In this new role, Jonah’s design responsibilities will span all brand touchpoints associated with the PolicyMap user and customer experience, including UI of geospatial/mapping products and design of digital marketing initiatives – helping to make everything we do a bit more human-friendly.

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Statement Regarding PolicyMap’s Practice of Dark Arts

Fridays have become a lot more fun at PolicyMap, thanks to Christopher Ingraham and the Washington Post’s Wonkblog. His new weekly feature, “Name That Data” has struck a competitive chord in us we didn’t know we had. In Name That Data, Wonkblog posts a map of something in the United States, and the participants have to guess what the map is showing.

Last week, Ingraham awarded us the title of Data Wizards/Ninjas/Unicorns/Whatevs for guessing a map of the rate of people who have never been married. This week, we were ready, checking Wonkblog all day on Friday waiting for the latest Name That Data entry to be posted. At around noon, we sprung into action, and once again, found the answer most expeditiously. So expeditiously, in fact, that Ingraham suggested that we were working with the aid of dark arts to derive our answer.


Did we use dark arts? Believe me, I tried. But our fearless leader, Maggie McCullough, found the right map by intuition before I could even light the candles.

As you might imagine, we have a pretty deep database of geographic data over here. As soon as the map was posted, I delved into our internal Census database, looking for the right number. In a victory for fair play, however, my cheating-ish search came up empty. So we went back to, you know, looking at the map.

Our first thought was, this probably isn’t Census data, since the post hints that it’s a rate of something (not of people). The next thing that struck us was the stark contrasts that existed at some state borders, like Pennsylvania and Ohio, and Iowa and Illinois. This is usually a sign that the data is collected by the states, or is somehow influenced by differences in state laws. I suggested that it might the amount deducted on tax returns for state and local taxes. And seconds later, Maggie had it: Percent of tax returns with the student loan deduction.

Kudos to Wonkblog commentator RP_McMurphy, who used a similar line of thought to come up with a close guess, and was declared this week’s Data Wizard/Ninja/Unicorn/Whatevs.

So with two weeks of awards under our belts, do we plan on retiring from this game? Not a chance. But in the interest of fair play, we pledge not to use dark arts/our database to get the answer, as devious as that would be.

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Exploring Foreclosure data in Chicago

Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood has been struggling with depopulation, violent crime, and a host of other urban ailments for decades.  This summer, the City of Chicago is attempting to implement an intriguing new strategy to stem these long trends towards neglect by leveraging one of the neighborhood’s most valuable assets, homeowners.  Chicago plans to sell city owned properties for $1 to local homeowners who already have a stake in their communities. Homeowners who live in the community would presumably be willing to invest their money and efforts to improve their neighborhood.  The Large Lot Program would have provisions that prevent homeowners from reselling the property for at least five years, while being encouraged to beautify the lot by adding community gardens or other open green spaces.  You can read more about the program in this link.


With a PolicyMap subscription, you can view point level data of Chicago-area foreclosures, which would be critical for measuring the success of initiatives such as the Large Lot Program in Chicago.  The Standard and Premium PolicyMap subscriptions will grant you access to our licensed data, as well as allow you to use our Reports, Mapping Analytics, and Data Download tools.  With a subscription, you can upload your organization’s own data to PolicyMap, and analyze it against any of our hundreds of indicators.  You can check out our subscription options by following the link posted here.

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PolicyMap Named Data Wizards/Ninjas/Unicorns/Whatevs by Wonkblog!

It was a Friday afternoon like any other, until #NameThatData came along. Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Posts’s Wonkblog posted a map of the United States with data, without saying what the data was. The contest was to see who could correctly name the data on the map.

Spoiler alert: We won.

When we saw the contest, we sprung into action. How could we not?

We started with some quick guesses. The dense arc through the south suggested African American population. But then what’s going on in New England? Could be obesity. But then Colorado should look better. Interestingly, our initially guesses mirror the same guesses hashed out at Ingraham’s follow-up post with the answer. Continue reading

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Map NSP Target Areas On PolicyMap

The Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) is a federal program that provides assistance to state and local governments to acquire and redevelop foreclosed and abandoned properties that might otherwise become sources of blight to their communities. As a part of the program, grantees picked target areas in which to focus their efforts. The criteria for identifying target areas were very specific and many grantees turned to PolicyMap for the data to complete their applications. NSP-approved target areas for communities throughout the country are now available on PolicyMap.

This update may be of particular interest to those who work with the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). Amendments to CRA regulations now allow favorable CRA consideration for activities supporting stabilization efforts in communities with high foreclosure levels. For more information about the CRA and the 2014 updated CRA eligibility data on PolicyMap click here. And if you would like to learn more about the new CRA guidelines with respect to NSP check out the Federal Reserve webinar here.

To date there have been three rounds of NSP funding, referred to as NSP1, NSP2 and NSP3. Now all the local NSP target areas from each allocation can be displayed on PolicyMap. The data are available under Federal Guidelines > U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Find out where NSP foreclosure programs are focused in your area.

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Mapping SBA-Approved Microlenders

Microlending is the practice of providing small loans to low-income people to start small businesses. Grameen Bank, founded in Bangladesh in 1983, was a pioneer in microfinance, generally providing small loans to the rural poor. While the practice has become extremely popular globally, microfinance has only recently joined the arsenal of financing options for small business owners and would-be entrepreneurs in the U.S.

Microlending in the United States got an official boost in 2009, with the passage of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Through ARRA, the Small Business Administration received $54 million specifically for its Microloan Program, which distributes loans under $50,000. We have recently added the locations of organizations participating in the Microloan Program to PolicyMap.
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