About Our Courses


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Why Did We Create These Courses?
Public, nonprofit, and philanthropic organizations seeking to understand and better their communities are awash in data. Thanks to the internet and personal computers, everyone now has instant access to massive amounts of raw data and the resources needed to analyze them. Today’s mission-driven organizations consequently are challenged to navigate a flood of facts and figures, identify the salient ones, and communicate them in ways that can inform local change.

The richest sources of local demographic, economic, and housing data are those prepared by public agencies like the US Census Bureau, US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and US Bureau of Economic Analysis. These agencies produce timely, free estimates of local social and economic conditions that can be broken out by such traits as age, sex, race, income and education.

Despite being rich sources of community insights, public data products also are complex and full of concepts that differ from popular understandings. Without an appreciation of the nuances, organizations and analysts are apt to make errors of fact and interpretation. Fortunately, the concepts  are easily accessible to any curious person willing to learn, even someone with little prior exposure to statistics or quantitative methods!

All that is needed is a good orientation, which is what inspired South by North Strategies, Ltd. to create this set of courses. Developed for individuals working in mission-driven organizations, these courses will prepare people at any level of an organization—especially those wary of numbers—to use public data to inform local change.

What Practical Things Will I Learn?
These courses aim to enrich the skills of practitioners working in nonprofit, philanthropic, public, and media organizations to use public data to understand local communities. Participants will leave each session better able to complete such tasks as the following:

  • Define a local community in a systematic way for analysis
  • Locate needed public data
  • Create a demographic and economic profile of a community
  • Incorporate data into reports, grants, presentations, and workplace documents
  • Communicate data to general audiences like boards of directors and civic leaders

Who Should Attend?
In short, any staff member of a mission-driven organization (e.g., public, nonprofit, philanthropic, or media entity) interested in using public data more effectively and persuasively.

Executive directors, board members, senior managers, program officers, analysts, grant writers, development associates, and communications personnel—anyone who wants to improve their abilities to understand, interpret, use, and talk about data can benefit. And, no prior exposure to statistics and quantitative methods is even needed to benefit from the course!

How Is a Typical Course Structured?
The exact structure of each course varies by topic and length, but below is an illustrative schedule for a daylong class (9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.):

  • 8:45:   Registration & Coffee
  • 9:00:   Welcome and Introduction
  • 9:10:   Topic 1: Data in Context
  • 10:00:  Break
  • 10:15:  Topic 2: Essential Concepts, Part I
  • 11:30:   Break
  • 11:45:   Module 3: Essential Concepts, Part II
  • 12:45:   Lunch (on your own)
  • 2:00:    Practical Exercises
  • 4:00:    Concluding Thoughts
  • 4:30:    Adjourn

Who Is The Instructor?
The instructor is John Quinterno, the founder and principal of South by North Strategies, Ltd. Over the course of his career, Quinterno has directed applied research projects into matters of labor economics, workforce development, regional economic development, social insurance, postsecondary education, and fiscal policy. His writings on policy issues, particularly regional and local ones, have appeared in print, online, and broadcast media outlets.

Quinterno  is the author Running the Numbers: A Practical Guide to Regional Economic and Social Analysis (New York: Routledge, 2014), which is used as a standard text in various graduate-level courses in public policy and urban planning. Quinterno also is a visiting lecturer at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, where he teaches graduate-level courses. in regional analysis and data communication.

What Courses Are Available?
This core data training course currently offered is “Making Sense of the Census Using Census Data to Guide Local Change,” a daylong class that focuses specifically on data from the US Census Bureau, in particular the American Community Survey.

Other courses focus on advanced demographic analysis, labor market information, economic development data, poverty and economic inequality, housing, and data communication. Click here to view summaries of selected courses.

Customized training solutions also are available for interested organizations. For information, e-mail courses@sbnstrategies.com or call (919) 622-2392.

What Are The Course Logistics?
The logistics vary by course, but courses typically are hosted at locations in the Triangle region of North Carolina. The registration fee covers all instructional and material costs and includes morning coffee and snacks. Lunch is on your own. Participants also receive access to a password-protected website with the course materials and a certificate of completion at the end of the day.

How Do I Learn More?
Click here to view a listing of upcoming course and to access the online registration system.

Individuals interested in learning about upcoming courses can subscribe to the notification list or e-mail courses@sbnstrategies.com.

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