Opportunity Index 2012 an Organizing Tool for Community Improvement
The 2012 Opportunity Nation Summit, a convening of over 1,200 thought leaders representing a broad range of political views and social communities, released the second annual Opportunity Index. The Index measures economic, academic, civic, and other factors—for example, the percentage of population below the poverty line, internet access, preschool enrollment, access to health care and to healthy food. A score was assigned for each state. People who live in areas with higher scores have a better chance to succeed than those who don’t. The Opportunity Index is designed to catalyze conversation about how to advance communities and where specifically they need help.
Communities that are not doing well can look at states that are succeeding, learn what they are doing right, and apply those lessons locally. Minnesota and Wisconsin, two of the six states in which the Joyce Foundation funds, scored in the top 10.
Minnesota ranked third in the nation. The state’s unemployment and poverty rates scored below the national average. Median household income was more than $5,000 above the rest of the states. The percentage of freshman who graduated from high school in four years beat the national average by 12 points. Under the community health and civic life category, Minnesota ranked high in adults involved in social, civic, sports, and religious groups and in volunteerism, an indicator that economic inequality is low. People are more likely to join groups and volunteer in places where there are not large income gaps.
Wisconsin ranked ninth in the United States, due in part to a low unemployment rate and favorable education and community health and civic life factors. Nearly 91 percent of freshman graduate on time. Fewer youth are not in school and not working as compared to the rest of the country. Group memberships and volunteerism scored well. Both Wisconsin and Minnesota achieved significantly lower violent crime rates than sister states.
You can find out how each state scored and compare last year’s rankings to this year’s to see how your state changed at Opportunity Index. For an explanation of methods and sources used for scoring the Index click here.
Students in the Great Lakes region and throughout the country need to graduate high school prepared for their futures. But, more than half either fail to graduate on time or graduate unprepared for college-level work. Through innovative policies and programs that aim to close achievement gaps between student groups, the Joyce Foundation aims to turn this trend around. Skill-building programs can empower students with the basic and technical skills needed for new, better-paying jobs that can transform their lives and support their families. The Joyce Foundation works to improve workforce development and education systems to help underprepared adults learn important skills, earn credentials and pursue jobs in their communities.
Opportunity Nation 2012 Summit Press Release