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Social Welfare 252: Getting Started


This guide gathers resources to help address the following questions: What types of data help inform the direction of our programs? How do we know if what we are doing is actually making a difference? How do we visually present what we know about our programs and about the clients we serve? We will look focus on two mapping tools: Opportunity Atlas (free for everyone/everywhere) and Policy Map (for fee, free to UCB) and the Census Bureau's Data.Census.Gov, successor to the now archived American Factfinder

Sample map from the Opportunity Atlas

Visualizing Geographically

The Opportunity Atlas is a free tool from the U.S. Census and Harvard University that attempts to an answer Which neighborhoods in America offer children the best chance to rise out of poverty? It tracks  important variables  such as race, income and incarceration rate to the census tract level, creating a great and easy to use way to visualize neighborhoods (or at least, geographic areas -- census tracks are often larger than one neighborhood.)

Opportunity Atlas

The Opportunity Atlas makes it easy to download the map as an image, and you can also add your own data (for example, the address of a service location, schools, homeless shelters, etc.) It also makes it easy to find the census tract number -- which enables you to find a huge array of other data available from the Census Bureau.