using the site

This section is provided to help you make the most of the ACT Rochester website. There are three topics that can be reached by clicking on the headings below:

A Guide to the ACT Rochester Website.

About the Data.

A Glossary of Terms.

1. A Guide to the ACT Rochester Website

The ACT Rochester Website is rich with information, with indicator tables, charts and text analysis. Many indicators have multiple tables with the raw numbers used to calculate the rates and percentages featured in charts, or previous years of data, available below the main tables. Detailed information and trend summaries are also available. Some users will want quick reference information, while others will want more detail. Spending a few minutes reviewing this section may aid your work and help make the ACT Rochester website a more satisfying experience.

Organization of the Site

Most of the information on this site can be accessed from one of two locations: the topic groups listed across the top of the page (below the ACT Rochester logo) and the menus at the top-right corner of the site, which contain overview information relating to ACT Rochester and special sections highlighting key information. These include:

Menu Item Content
About Us Information on the goals of ACT Rochester and the organizations that participated in developing the project.
Using the Site The section you are in now, which aids in using the site.
Resources Information about, and links to, other valuable sources of data.
Contact Us ACT Rochester's contact information and newsletter signup form.
Key Topics/Reports Reports and indicator data related to special topics including poverty, racial and ethnic disparities and the ROC the Future educational initiative.
Create a Dashboard Ability to view at-a-glance indicators for the region, counties, cities and races and ethnicities, as well as creating a customized Dashboard with selected indicators.
Our Communities/Report Cards Comprehensive summaries for each of the nine counties in this region (Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates Counties) as well as summaries of indicator data for the cities of Rochester, Batavia, Canandaigua and Geneva.

ACT Rochester tracks indicators that fall into nine topic groups, which are arranged alphabetically across the top of the page below the ACT logo. Click on any topic to see a list of all the individual indicators related to that topic, as well as the other research resources you will find on the topic groups main page. 

On each topic group page, you will find an overview of the data and the observable patterns arising from the data. The most significant trends are included, along with a summary table that describes whether our region is improving and how we compare to New York State. The Overview can be considered the "forest," while the indicators constitute the individual "trees.


The other components of each topic group are described below.

Component  Content
Topic Indicators

Clicking on any of the indicators will transport you to detailed information about that specific measure, including a description of what is measured, why it is important and how the region is performing. Click here to view All Indicators.

Resources Key governmental, private and nonprofit organizations providing service or information relating to the topic. Again, the groups selected for this section are involved directly in the subject matter being measured. Convenient links are included. ACT Rochester provides these links as a convenience, but does not necessarily endorse the organizations involved or their programs, nor can it affirm the accuracy of information in linked sites.
Related Indicators There might be some indicators that do not live in this topic area, but are related. You can find these indicators here. For example, Tourism Spending and Recreation Spending lives in the Community Vitality Topic Group, but can also be found in the Related Indicators section of Economy.

Navigating the Site

Here are several additional tips for navigating the ACT Rochester website:

Goal Instructions
To return to the home page... From any page on the site, you can return to the home page by clicking on the ACT logo in the upper left (or lower left) corner of the page.
To get to a topic main page... From any page on the site, you can navigate to a topic group's main page by clicking on that topic group (listed alphabetically across the top of the page below the ACT logo) and selecting 'Overview'.
To customize charts... After clicking on an indicator, you can customize your own chart with the data available by selecting and de-selecting items in the legend below the chart. You may also download or print these charts using the menu in the upper right corner of the chart.
To download data... After clicking on the detailed indicator pages, scroll down for data tables to see and download the actual data displayed in an Excel spreadsheet.

Engaging with ACT Rochester social media

Check out ACT Rochester on Facebook and Twitter by clicking on the icons at the bottom of any site page.  You can also sign up to receive periodic ACT Rochester email notifications using the Contact Us form in the top-right corner of the site.

2. About the Data.

Accurate, timely and independent data is central to the ACT Rochester program and website. The following is a description of the data used, how it is presented, how it was developed, and how it will be updated:

What is being measured?

ACT Rochester uses over 100 indicators that measure economic, environmental, social, or cultural conditions, over varying periods of time. The indicators were selected to provide an accurate assessment of our region's wellbeing in nine program categories.

How are the indicators expressed?

The indicators are usually expressed as a rate or percent, such as the infant mortality rate, the unemployment rate, or the air quality index. The raw numbers used to calculate rates and percentages are usually displayed in tables below the main table. When in doubt, keep scrolling to see what additional data may be available for each indicator. 

What are the sources of data?

The data is drawn from highly reliable sources, usually government or private sources with extensive experience in data measurement and reporting. The Center for Governmental Research (CGR) conducted the research to develop the indicators. In some instances, CGR conducted independent calculations or combined data sources to achieve the best available indicator, but in all cases, the information derived from independent, authoritative sources.

Is this the most recent data?

Yes. Some sources update data more frequently than others, but in all instances the most updated information from authoritative sources is used. Some indicators display the most recent year available, and then an earlier year to provide context. These are usually indicators that break down the data by race, ethnicity, or some other type of subgroup - so a snapshot of the current and previous year data are provided. 

Will the data be updated?

Yes. On an annual basis, a systematic update will be made to incorporate any new information that is available.

Are breakouts of the data available?

Yes, for some indicators, data is broken out by race, ethnicity or other subgroup. For example, educational performance data is available for several subgroups, which are defined below. 

Low-income or economically disadvantaged students are those who participate in, or whose family participates in, economic assistance programs, such as the free or reduced-price lunch programs, Social Security Insurance (SSI), Food Stamps, Foster Care, Refugee Assistance (cash or medical assistance), Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), Safety Net Assistance (SNA), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), or Family Assistance: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). If one student in a family is identified as low income, all students from that household (economic unit) may be identified as low income.

English Language Learners (ELLs) are those who, by reason of foreign birth or ancestry, speak or understand a language other than English and speak or understand little or no English, and require support in order to become proficient in English. These students are also referred to as Limited English Proficient (LEP).

Students with Disabilities (SWD) means children with a disability, as defined in Education Law; who do not turn 21 before September first; who are entitled to attend public school; who because of mental, physical or emotional reasons, have been identified as having a disability; and who require special services or programs. Students who are identified as having a disability may have autism, deafness, deaf-blindness, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, learning disability, mental retardation, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury or visual impairment (including blindness).

Where do I find the indicators?

On the ACT Rochester home page, there are topic group headings that relate to the nine program areas used in ACT Rochester.   

See "A Guide to the ACT Rochester Website" (above) for instructions on how to locate indicators and related information.

Are there comparisons or benchmarks?

Yes. Most indicators include comparisons over time as well as benchmarks with New York State averages. In many cases, comparisons to national benchmarks are also noted. Where meaningful, comparisons among specific counties (or with the City of Rochester if available) are highlighted. Individual data sets may be viewed and downloaded for those wishing to do additional analysis and comparisons. Directions for doing this are contained in "A Guide to the ACT Rochester Website" (above).

You may also be interested in regional Report Cards that provide an overall assessment of how our region is performing in the nine program categories. Report Cards for each individual county can be accessed by clicking on the "Our Communities/Report Cards" dropdown menu in the top-right corner of the site.

Are there any summaries?

Yes, there are several summaries available. The summaries include county-specific information such as basic demographic data, as well as a summary of each county's profile using the nine program categories of ACT Rochester (not all counties have information in all nine program categories, but to the extent that the data does exist, it is highlighted in the county summary).

Each topic group page summarizes the trends for the indicators within the topic in the Overview. As with the Report Cards referenced above, the summaries for each county can be accessed by clicking on the "Our Communities/Report Cards" dropdown menu in the top-right corner of the site.

Who selected the indicators?

The ACT Rochester program was developed following an extensive community engagement and professional research process. This process was overseen by a joint task force of the United Way and Community Foundation. The task force researched other communities and vetted a wide-range of alternatives before settling on the design of ACT Rochester.

In selecting the indicators, 12 focus groups were engaged, one for each program category. These focus groups consisted of private, governmental, academic, and nonprofit leaders. The focus groups brainstormed possible indicators and responded to candidate indicators developed by the Center for Governmental Research. The focus groups provided invaluable advice on which indicators were most useful and which indicators should be avoided. Approximately 100 individuals participated in this process.

Following the focus group process, the Center for Governmental Research conducted extensive research to determine which indicators most appropriately reflected community wellbeing; had solid, credible sources; had a data history that would be useful in understanding trends; and would be able to be updated in the future. From this effort, approximately 170 indicators were approved by the joint task force.

3. A Glossary of Terms:

Term Definition/How used in the ACT Rochester website.

An indicator is a measure that helps to describe an economic, environmental, social, or cultural condition over time. An indicator is usually expressed as a rate or percent, such as the infant mortality rate, the unemployment rate, or the air quality index.

ACT Rochester uses indicators throughout this website. For each of the nine program categories, the indicators can be accessed from any page on the site by clicking on that indicators topic group (arranged alphabetically across the top of the page below the ACT logo) and then selecting the individual indicator you want to view. You can also access all indicators by selecting "All Indicators" at the top of any page.   

Click on an indicator to be taken to its page and scroll down to 'What does this measure" for more information. 

Inflation Adjusted This refers to an actual value that is adjusted to account for inflation. The changes in a series of actual values over time reflect several factors, including inflation. However, if the series is inflation adjusted, the changes then reflect only the other factors. For example, the Median Household Income in our region (Economic Security) declined by 10.9% since 2000 – when adjusted for inflation. The actual income values declined by less, but by using inflation adjusted numbers, this indicator shows the loss of purchasing power of our area incomes. Whenever data is inflation adjusted it is labeled as such. In the example of median household income, the data is labeled as "2011 dollars," meaning the value for 2011 is actual and the other data in the series is adjusted. Usually, data is adjusted to the most recent year in the series.
Median The median refers to the mid-point of a set of values. For example, our region's Median Household Income (Economic Security) is $52,400. This means that an equal number of households earn more than $52,400 as earn less.
Percent The portion of the whole represented by any given value. The whole is 100 percent, and the percent of any given value is its relationship to 100 percent. For example, our whole nine-county region has a population of 1,217,867 (2011). With a population of 745,625, Monroe County represents 61 percent of the region. Mathematically, the percent is derived by dividing the given value (Monroe County in this example) by the value of the whole (the nine-county region); and then multiplying the result by 100 to express the result as a percent of 100.
Percentage The same meaning as percent.
Per capita Per person (literally, "per head"). This measure is particularly useful in comparing activity among units of differing sizes. For example, if the gross cost of Monroe County government is compared with the surrounding counties (Economy), the comparison is not meaningful. However, by comparing Monroe County's per capita cost ($2,148 in 2011) with that of the surrounding Counties ($1,999 in 2011), it can be said that the surrounding counties spend 6.9% less than Monroe on a per capita basis.
Poverty Level The United States government uses two principal methods to measure poverty: the poverty thresholds established by the Census Bureau and the poverty guidelines used by the Department of Health and Human Services. Basically, The Census Bureau approach is used to determine how many people live in poverty and the Health and Human Services data is used for various benefit programs, such as eligibility for food stamps. In some applications, eligibility for federal assistance programs is based on multiples of the poverty guidelines (such as 125% or 165% of the poverty level).The difference in these measures is not major.

The relationship between two values. For example, when driving, the rate of speed is measured by the distance traveled (miles) in a certain amount of time (hours). Hence, the rate of speed is expressed as miles per hour.

Rates can be expressed in a variety of fashions. ACT Rochester strives to use rates that are understandable. Examples include: the number of serious crimes per 10,000 residents (Public Safety) and the number of Doctors per 10,000 residents (Health). In the last example, the supply of doctors is expressed as 29 per 10,000 residents. This rate could have been listed accurately as .0029 doctors per resident. However, that expression is harder to understand.


As used here, region refers to the nine-county ACT Rochester area: Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates. If a different basis is used to define the region, it is described.

The Rochester Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is established by the US Census Bureau and it consists of five counties: Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, and Wayne.

The term greater Rochester does not have a specific definition. It refers generally to the City of Rochester and the surrounding developed area.

The Surrounding Counties refers to all counties in the region, excluding Monroe County.