Place matters, the Metro Atlanta edition
Posted On October 8, 2018
In the last column, I talked about the impact of place on how we look at public and private schools. Living in poverty has a higher impact on a child’s future than whether or not they attend a public or private school. We all know place is important. This was brought to light with the work done by Raj Chetty, Professor of Public Economics at Harvard University and the Director of the Equality of Opportunity Project, which uses “big data” to understand how we can give children from disadvantaged backgrounds better chances of succeeding.
His most recent work involves working with the Census Bureau to create The Opportunity Atlas, where users can see the whole country, or zoom in to local neighborhoods. The difference is in the amount of information that pops up when a neighborhood is highlighted. Researchers hope these data will help communities understand and tackle the barriers that prevent people from climbing the economic ladder. They want policymakers to use the information to offer new solutions locally.
A great example of this happened in Charlotte. While the city had experienced strong economic growth historically (similar to Atlanta), the 2014 report showed that Charlotte was dead last out of 50 cities at providing upward mobility for low-income kids. The city responded by creating a task force formed by the Foundation of the Carolinas to develop a plan of attack. The report identified early childhood development, college and career readiness, family stability and strong social networks as key factors that enhance upward mobility. It singled out segregation as a key obstacle. And now, Charlotte officials are learning to use the Opportunity Atlas to effectively target some remedies, things like pre-K programs and affordable housing.
This is the type of information that Metro Atlanta could use to more narrowly target remedies and solutions to support all in our communities and begin to move the dial faster on eliminating poverty and inequity in our city. We have so many wonderful organizations and assets but we need to pull them together to truly address our most pressing issues.
atlantaCharlotteChe WatkinsEquality of Opportunity ProjectLow income childrenMetro AtlantaOpportunity AtlasPlace Matterspoverty and equityThe Center for Working Families