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Discover Data: The American Community Survey

What’s the American Community Survey?

Every fall, the US Census Bureau releases its yearly figures from the American Community Survey (ACS).  The ACS is the largest survey conducted by the Bureau and provides a wealth of information on communities large and small.  From detailed housing information to health insurance coverage, school enrollment, Veterans status and more, the ACS is often the only source for the more-than forty subjects it provides on small communities throughout Virginia.

Ally Burleson-Gibson, US Census Bureau Data Dissemination Specialist for Virginia, suggests, ?Starting your search broadly ? by looking at data for the entire state ? it gives you the ability to see what?s out there, without limiting the topics you might find.  Start with a broad search, learn what is applicable to your community and clientele, and then focus your search on the smaller geographic service area.?  

How Can I Learn More?

ConnectVA and the U.S. Census Bureau are collaborating to provide a hands-on data workshop ?Discovering Community Data in the Social Sector? on Friday, October 10, 2014 in Richmond, VA.  The training will include an overview of popular datasets, including the American Community Survey, and cover the best methods for finding information for local communities using the Census Bureau tools, now available on the ConnectVA Community Vital Signs page. 

The training session will include tips and best practices on ways to use data to assess the needs of your community and to utilize specific information for grant writing and program planning.   The class will focus on using Easy Stats to access detailed information from the American Community Survey, and will sample the American FactFinder and Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) tools as linked on ConnectVa?s Community Data Resources.  As the name ?Easy Stats? suggests, you can find your data easily by making just a few selections, however, you?ve got to know how to use the data once you find it.  We will discuss specifics on what is available in terms of social, economic, housing and demographic characteristics and why it is important to understand your area down to the census tract or block group. 

If you have ever had trouble finding the data you need, or you want a refresher on how to replicate a search, this session is for you!  Now is a great time to learn more about the American Community Survey, including how to find and use the subjects most important to your organization as the latest stats from 2013 are released this fall.

RSVP here for the upcoming ?Discovering Community Data in the Social Sector? workshop with ConnectVA and the US Census Bureau on 10/10 ?space is limited.

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