The project

North Dakota Compass is a social indicators project that measures progress in our state, its eight regions, 53 counties, four Native American reservations, and larger cities (see map). Compass tracks trends in topic areas such as children and youth, economy, health, housing, and workforce (with more currently being developed). It inspires people to take action to improve our economic vitality and quality of life.

Compass gives everyone in our state – policymakers, business and community leaders, and concerned individuals who live and work here – a common foundation to identify, understand, and act on community issues that affect our communities.

It does this by:

  • Providing unbiased, credible information
  • Tracking trends and measuring progress on issues that impact our quality of life.
  • Identifying disparities by including trend data by race, age, gender and income whenever possible.
  • Providing additional resources for addressing issues.

Project development

North Dakota Compass is modeled after Minnesota Compass, an award-winning community indicators project led by Wilder Research. The North Dakota Compass project was developed in 2012 by The Center for Social Research at North Dakota State University and Wilder Research with generous funding from the Bush Foundation. As in Minnesota, many key stakeholders, content experts, and data users were consulted in determining topic areas, key measures, and resources to include on the site.

Using Compass

Get facts that matter

Compass gives measurable information in each topic area that shows trends over time. The indicators generally are put into two categories: Key Measures and More Measures. What’s the difference? Key Measures were chosen by topic advisory groups as the most credible and compelling based on criteria developed by a technical committee. More Measures provide additional data in order to gain a more in-depth understanding of the issue, to improve our quality of life.

More about the data

Learn how others have tackled an issue

In each topic area, there is an Ideas at Work section, which is a compendium of local and national strategies and initiatives, backed by research and evaluation, that have been implemented to reach goals and improve quality of life.

Dig deeper

Delve into our virtual library, which contains reports and studies on a wide variety of topics. Don’t see something you think would be of value to others? Recommend it to us.

Improve your community by improving Compass!

Have an idea to enhance our website? Do you know of a study, report or initiative you think would interest others? Do you have ways to get involved that you’d like to share with others? Let us know! Contact us to join our mailing list or sign up for an RSS feed from our Compass toolbox.


North Dakota Compass

Center for Social Research
North Dakota State University

Compass created by:
Wilder Research

© 2023. All rights reserved.