Illustration of people enjoying the outdoors. A giant magnifying glass focuses on a group of people at a cafe table.

Sessions  |  Registration

Join Minnesota Compass staff in this five-part virtual training series, designed to empower nonprofit and community leaders with the knowledge and skills to effectively use the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) data.

About the series

Understanding people and communities is crucial for organizations seeking to make a positive impact and foster equitable outcomes. The ACS provides data about the social, economic, housing, and demographic characteristics of Minnesota’s residents. The data can help nonprofit, business, and community leaders identify, understand, and act on issues that affect the people and communities they serve, and bolster programs that promote equity.  

This free training series is possible through a generous grant from the Morgan Family Foundation.

What will you learn?

Participants will leave with information that helps them understand the basics about ACS data, how to access it, and important considerations when using it to support their work.

Who should attend?  

This is an introductory-level series for nonprofit, business, and community leaders and staff who are interested in using data to better understand the communities they support and make data-informed decisions in their work. St. Cloud area nonprofit, business, government, and community leaders are especially encouraged to attend.

When: BEGINS Thursday, Sept. 6, 2023, 9-10:30 AM, and is held every other Wednesday through Nov. 1.    

COMPLETED Session 1: Wednesday, Sept. 6, 9-10:30 a.m.  

COMPLETED Session 2: Wednesday Sept. 20, 9-10:30 a.m.

COMPLETED Session 3: Wednesday Oct. 4, 9-10:30 a.m.  

Session 4: Wednesday Oct. 18, 9-10:30 a.m.  

Session 5: Wednesday Nov. 1, 9-10:30 a.m.  

Who will be presenting the training?  

The training sessions will be led by Minnesota Compass researchers and staff who have deep knowledge of and expertise in using American Community Survey data. Minnesota Compass is a project led by Wilder Research to provide credible, easy-to-access data from reliable sources such as the American Community Survey, an ongoing, year-round survey of households in the United States conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The data and analysis helps policymakers and nonprofit, business, and community leaders identify, understand, and act on issues that affect lives and communities.

Here's what you'll learn:

  1. COMPLETED Sept. 6, Session 1 - American Community Survey: Why you should know about it

    Get a comprehensive overview of the ACS, including its purpose, data collection methods, and how data can be used to examine key demographic and socio-economic trends shaping quality of life in the St. Cloud region. Interactive exercises will provide opportunities to learn how the data are valuable, share insights from experiences working with data, and create collaborative solutions to address the unique needs of communities. Participants will leave equipped to create practical strategies for harnessing the power of ACS data in pursuit of more equitable and inclusive communities.

  2. COMPLETED Sept. 20, Session 2 - American Community Survey: Looking at data by geographic boundaries

    Location matters. In the second session of the series, we’ll walk you through the various geographic boundaries available for American Community Survey data. Participants will learn how to access data by legislative districts, cities, etc., and about resources and tools to work with spatial data. You will walk away with foundational skills to locate data by geography that is relevant and timely for your work in and around St. Cloud.

  3. COMPLETED Oct. 4, Session 3 - American Community Survey: How to draw meaningful conclusions

    In this session, we'll show you how to effectively interpret ACS data. We'll explore the natural uncertainty that comes with estimating data from a sample survey (a subset of the population). Understanding this is crucial when comparing ACS data and drawing meaningful conclusions. We'll also talk about using statistical tests to determine if differences in the data are real or simply due to chance. You'll gain the skills to consider uncertainty, sample size, and data quality, which are vital for making well-informed decisions based on ACS data.

  4. COMPLETED Oct. 18, Session 4 - American Community Survey: How to analyze and interpret the data

    In this session, we look at data analysis and interpretation. Discover the art of making comparisons using ACS data, empowering you to draw meaningful insights from vast datasets. Unlock the key to developing and interpreting rankings, enabling you to make informed decisions with confidence. We'll also explore the trending of ACS data to help you stay ahead in a dynamic data-driven landscape. Whether you're from rural areas, government, or nonprofits, this session will equip you with the knowledge you need to leverage data effectively and drive positive change in your respective domains.

  5. COMPLETED Nov. 1, Session 5 – American Community Survey: Case studies of using it effectively

    In this last session, you will learn how communities and organizations are using ACS data for advocacy, strategic and program planning, policy analysis, grant applications, and more. You will hear stories about how Minnesota organizations are using data, and lessons learned.