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NORC empowers government leaders, policy makers, and the public to resolve our nation’s most pressing problems.

To make effective program and policy decisions, government and community leaders need a clear sense of the public’s needs and priorities. And robust volunteer organizations and engaged volunteers can help drive change and sustain healthy communities. NORC’s rigorous, reliable public opinion polling has been informing policy and program decisions for more than 80 years, and we have decades of experience evaluating the effectiveness and reach of community-based, volunteer-driven organizations. Our earliest projects included opinion polling during World War II to help policymakers, academics, and government officials better understand public attitudes toward rationing and other elements of the war effort. Today, we continue to innovate methods for capturing accurate and timely information domestically and globally.  

Since 1972, NORC’s General Social Survey (GSS) has been one of the nation’s most rigorous and widely used data sources on the attitudes, behaviors, and attributes of the American public. GSS data have served as the basis for more than 32,500 scholarly papers, books, PhD dissertations, and countless news stories, and in recent years was used by the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress. In 2006, we conducted the National Voluntary Associations Study using a hyper-networking sample from the GSS. For this study, we interviewed leaders and members of the representative sample of voluntary groups generated by the GSS about their groups and connections to the community. GSS respondents were re-interviewed about changes in their networks and voluntary associations.  

NORC is partnering with AmeriCorps to strengthen and support various aspects of their AmeriCorps State and National grantee organizations’ evaluation activities. By providing local nonprofit organizations with tools to improve the quality of their program evaluations, NORC is helping AmeriCorps better estimate the broader community impacts of their programs. NORC’s third-party evaluation of the nation’s largest AmeriCorps tutoring program has found that elementary students tutored by AmeriCorps members achieved significantly higher literacy levels than students without such tutors. The impacts were statistically significant, even among students at higher risk of academic failure. 

Examining the intersection between public opinion and public policy has been at the heart of much of NORC’s work and is the focus of our Center for the Study of Politics and Society. The AP-NORC Center delivers public opinion insights on pressing societal issues and government actions.

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Civic Participation, Volunteerism & Governance Experts

Highlighted Projects

Resilience in the Wake of Superstorm Sandy

AP-NORC Center surveyed Americans about disaster preparation and recovery after the 2012 disaster


The Associated Press

AP VoteCast

More inclusive and accurate polling of the dynamics behind America’s elections


The Associated Press