Recap: Metro-Level Opportunity Index Release•
“Opportunity looks different in America for different people. . . The playing field isn’t equal. . . The goal is to get everyone in the game.” -Michelle Massie, Director, Opportunity Nation
In an effort to bring our Opportunity Index data to the local level, Opportunity Nation and Child Trends recently released a pilot Metro-Level Opportunity Index (Metro Index). This modified version of the annual Opportunity Index focused on 13 of the nation’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), together representing one quarter of the nation’s population. To mark the December release, we hosted an interactive event in Baltimore–one of the featured MSAs–that featured an overview of the Metro Index, an expert-led data walk, and a focus group where participants were encouraged to take a different approach to examining data.
In addition to our 70 cross-sector attendees from the Maryland, DC, Virginia area (representing organizations such as United Way Worldwide, PwC USA, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the University of Maryland, Grads of Life and the U.S Department of education), speakers included Seema Iyer, Ph.D., Director of the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance-Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore, who shared the importance of using localized data to affect community change; and Sam Beckwith, Research Analyst, Youth Development at Child Trends, who shared the Metro Index methodology and findings.
During a panel discussion, Faith Connolly, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Baltimore Education Research Consortium; and Katherine Klosek, Director of the Applied Research Center for Government Excellence (GovEx) at Johns Hopkins University discussed the implications of the report on issues including food insecurity and early childhood development.
While equity seems to be a current hot topic, it may not always be that way. In keeping equity at the forefront, our aim for the day was to not only see how we can improve upon the Metro Index, but to ensure attendees gained a deeper understanding and awareness about why certain indicators were selected, and how the factors affecting the results could inform better decision making. For example, we learned that setting up comparisons based on population size and demographics would be helpful in seeing why some areas see success while others may not. Understanding the “why’s and how’s” of the data is important, so adding historical facts should be a consideration.
At the end of the day, it became evident that there is a desire not just for data, but how to use it. We look forward to hearing from you at more events like this in communities across the country. If you’re interested in hosting a community conversation, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks to The Kresge Foundation for their generous support of the Metro-Level Opportunity Index and the release event.