June 3, 2020
At the intersection of 21st CCLC programs and the U.S. census lives an ever-reliable old gent who goes by the name of DATA. By now you’ve discovered that “data” is in Y4Y’s top 10 list of favorite terms. That’s because it’s so important to advancing your program’s work. Likewise, long ago, when the U.S. framers wrote the Constitution, so important was the idea of collecting data on its citizens that the basis for the census was written into Article 1 of this founding document.
Surely our forefathers couldn’t have imagined what our country looks like today. The sheer numbers and diversity we boast, and the technological advances we’ve made, astound many of us who are actually living it! The U.S. Census Bureau has tapped into modern computational power to carry out the spirit of the law the founders intended — collecting, analyzing and publishing a variety of useful statistics and online tools.
Take the Census Bureau’s “Statistics in Schools” initiative, for example. Visitors to this online resource can learn how data from the census drives school funding nationwide. They’ll also find activities to help students understand statistics in general. Information compiled by geographic region can help students see similarities and differences between their region and other parts of the country. What areas have the highest average ages, or the lowest? How does the average family size differ by geography? There are many of these questions you can have fun exploring in person or virtually with your students. Your findings can be a springboard to meaningful discussions about social, cultural and economic issues that affect them.
As your 21st CCLC program wraps up the current school year and looks to the next, you can also use the current census “buzz” to excite your staff about the power of data within your own program. If you have staff members who are new to data-based decision making and need an easy place to start, try introducing staff to the Three Types of Data you’ll needed in your program. Summer is the ideal time to improve training on this subject. Check out the Y4Y Training Starters on Data Collection and Logic Models as you put your team back together for the fall. Go even deeper with Y4Y’s archived webinar series, Telling Your Story Through Data: A Deep Dive Into Process.
Wherever you are in your quest for data, Y4Y has the tools you’ll need to look beneath those numbers and make your program the best it can be. Go ahead. Make data work for you and your students. There’s a 99.9% chance the U.S. founders would approve!