CensusWe have all been here: it is one week before the grant proposal deadline, and your team is scrambling to find or verify the latest statistics on the community you serve and how they compare to the statewide average and similar counties. We need to know household incomes and the percentage of people living in poverty, and we ding ourselves for not saving the exact search that will give us the information we want on the U.S. Census’ American Fact Finder site. Well, Social TrendSpotters, re-creating queries for basic facts is over – welcome the Opportunity Index!

What is the Opportunity Index?

In a country that prides itself on self-made men and women, only 6 percent of children born to parents at the bottom of the income distribution actually make it to the top. To bring the U.S. back to its full glory, Opportunity Nation created the Opportunity Index to capture and quantify mobility and opportunity. The Index measures how states and counties are performing in three areas strongly linked to opportunity – jobs and local economy, education, community health and civic life. The Index pulls the latest data on 16 indicators (including unemployment, income, poverty, high school and higher education graduation rates, and healthcare) from the Census and other national data sets. Using that data, it grades counties and states on their performance.

How Do I Use It?

We like this tool because it is practical, interactive and simple – you can compare states and counties across years by clicking on a map. When you are pulling facts together for grant applications, presentations or marketing materials, the Opportunity Index provides easy access to the information you commonly need. While this tool has incredible practical merits, Opportunity Nation also hopes that this will be part of a larger national campaign to make the American dream accessible to children across all socioeconomic classes again. Nonprofit organizations and social entrepreneurs are encouraged to use this data to personalize and fuel their own campaigns and causes.

And, as a reminder, if you need some help getting started on primary (e.g., surveys, focus groups) or secondary research, check out our past posts – we have some great tips for you!

When you are in a mad rush at midnight, we hope you’ll remember the Opportunity Index is at your disposal. Own it, use it, spread the word and share your thoughts. May your data queries be a thing of the past!

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