by Amanda Bruscino

Fast Fact Finder, meet Data-for-Dummies. Both stat geeks and newbies now have a fast, easy way to access to all the useful but not-so-user-friendly data that the government churns out and slaps up on the Internet.

No more stumbling through thousands of results from a search engine query, or staring blankly at a government website. This new guide, hosted by Bronx nonprofit housing developers University Neighborhood Housing Program, walks you through the numbers with step-by-step instructions that not only help find a site, but give some hand-holding once you get there.

Best of all is their split-screen approach to the mind-boggling U.S. Census Bureau site. With this guide, a second window appears in the lower half of the computer screen that gives detailed instructions on which Census Bureau database to use, what each data set means, and which kinds of information to plug in to get the best results.

Experienced number-crunchers can use another version to find all the data-related links in one organized location, complete with information on the links themselves–like which ones are good for what purposes, which ones are slow because of heavy traffic, and which ones are new and not quite complete but still worth visiting.

The site, geared toward non profiteers interested in social services or demographic research, includes links to environmental, health, crime, banking and housing data. As more grassroots nonprofits go online, the site will prove to be very useful, says Inner City Press’ Matthew Lee, himself a web-savvy data dervish. “I’ve had groups come to me when they’re thinking of setting up a credit union, and they’re trying to document the need. Now instead of sending them to 10 URLs, I can just send them to one.”

The website may be found at