Open Data &
Policy Institutions

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Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Center for Disease Control: ATSDR Social Vulnerability Index

Every community must prepare for and respond to hazardous events, whether a natural disaster like a tornado or disease outbreak, or a human-made event such as a harmful chemical spill. A number of factors, including poverty, lack of access to transportation, and crowded housing may weaken a community’s ability to prevent human suffering and financial loss in a disaster. These factors are known as social vulnerability.

ATSDR created these databases, known as the Social Vulnerability Index (SVI),  to help emergency response planners and public health officials identify and map communities that will most likely need support before, during, and after a hazardous event. While this data is intended to be used to help public health officials prepare for a disaster, nonprofit organizations can use the data to identify potential regions that may be in need of particular services that nonprofit may be offering.

In addition to the downloadable databases, the CDC also provides an interactive CDC SVI Map to easily look at data by county.

CalEnviroScreen Maps

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is the lead state agency for the assessment of health risks posed by environmental contaminants. OEHHA’s mission is to protect and enhance the health of Californians and our state’s environment through scientific evaluations that inform, support and guide regulatory and other actions.

The OEHHA provides an interactive 3D maps of Pollution Burden scores, Population Characteristic scores and the twenty other indicators including PM 2.5 levels, pesticide use and hazardous waste information.

IPUMS

IPUMS provides census and survey data from around the world integrated across time and space. IPUMS integration and documentation makes it easy to study change, conduct comparative research, merge information across data types, and analyze individuals within family and community context. Data and services are available free of charge.

From Global Health to Higher Education, IPUMS has a ton of data for you to use.

PolicyMap

PolicyMap is a powerful tool that aggregates census data into an easy to use online map. You can select data from one of nine sets of predefined data categories: Demographics, Income & Spending, Housing, Lending, Quality of Life, Economy, Education, Health and data based on Federal Guidelines. More in-depth data and analytics, however, will come at a price with standard and premium subscriptions available.

Stanford Educational Opportunity Project

The Educational Opportunity Project at Stanford University has built the first national database of academic performance. View charts and maps that show how counties, school districts, and individual schools score on these three metrics: Average Test Scores, Learning Rates and Trends in test scores. You can also filter by demographics, explore opportunity gaps, export PDF reports, and more.

United States Census Bureau

The United States Census Bureau is the ultimate place to go to get the most data of any resource listed. The United States constitutionally collects census data every 10 years with the most recent census count having taken place in 2020. They are also one of the largest sources for accurate publicly data in the United States. Most of the other resources on this list use census data to inform their own models but you can get it right from the source! The bureau also helps to make the information digestible through the following different breakdowns:

    • American Community Survey (ACS)
      The American Community Survey (ACS) helps local officials, community leaders, and businesses understand the changes taking place in their communities. It is the premier source for detailed population and housing information about our nation.
    • Census Business Builder (CBB)
      The Census Business Builder (CBB) is a suite of services that provide selected demographic and economic data from the Census Bureau tailored to specific types of users in a simple to access and use format.
    • Current Population Survey (CPS)
      The Current Population Survey (CPS), sponsored jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is the primary source of labor force statistics for the population of the United States.
    • Census Bureau Poverty Data
      The Census Bureau provides poverty data from several household surveys and programs. Here you can find poverty estimates, learn about these surveys and programs, and get guidance on how to choose the right estimate for your needs.

Policy Institutions

UCR Center for Social Innovation

The Center for Social Innovation focuses on five key areas: Civic Engagement, Economic Mobility, Immigrant Integration, Leadership & Entrepreneurship, and Place Making. Because they are part of the University of California, Riverside’s School of Public Policy, their work specifically focuses on Inland Southern California. Their activities in collaborative research, policy innovation, and narrative change are aimed to more fully realize the region’s potential in terms of its civic activities, philanthropic investments, and growing nonprofit sector.

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The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)

The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that is dedicated to informing and improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research. The PPIC has the most reputable research publications that use actionable, fact-based research to help the state find practical responses to a range of policy challenges.

PPIC houses three policy centers that address topics of major importance to California.

    • The PPIC Higher Education Center advances practical solutions that enhance educational opportunities for all of California’s students—improving lives and expanding economic growth across the state.
    • The PPIC Statewide Survey provides a voice for the public and likely voters on key policy issues facing the state.
    • The PPIC Water Policy Center spurs innovative water management solutions that support a healthy economy, environment, and society.

Their extensive outreach activities bring PPIC’s work to an ever-expanding audience in Sacramento and beyond with events featuring viewpoints across the political spectrum, promoting constructive, thoughtful, and respectful dialogue on the issues that matter most to California.

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Urban Institute

The Urban Institute is the trusted source for unbiased, authoritative insights that inform consequential choices about the well-being of people and places in the United States. They are a nonprofit research organization that believes decisions shaped by facts, rather than ideology, have the power to improve public policy and practice, strengthen communities, and transform people’s lives for the better.

Urban Institute experts diagnose current challenges and look ahead to identify opportunities for change. Additionally, their research findings to help stakeholders craft relevant solutions and strategies that address today’s concerns and avert tomorrow’s roadblocks. They share their insights in real time with influencers eager to make smarter decisions.

Women's Foundation of California

The Women’s Foundation California is a statewide, publicly supported foundation dedicated to achieving racial, economic, and gender justice by centering the experience and expertise of communities most impacted by systemic injustice.

They get it done by providing grants to community-led organizations, training community leaders through the Women’s Policy Institute, and fostering a community of advocates, donors, policymakers, grantmakers, academics and many others through convenings to share knowledge and strengthen the social justice movement in California.