Why Stop At Research?

Just two days ago, a fascinating free tool hit the internet. It was created by Opportunity Insights, a non-profit dedicated to understanding why upward mobility and economic progress have stalled for so many U.S. families. This new tool is called the “Opportunity Atlas, a free map platform that provides social-mobility data for every census tract in America, providing a neighborhood-by-neighborhood view of economic and demographic information.”

With the hope of better understanding ordinary Americans’ economic struggles and the roles that neighborhoods, schools, teachers, race, parental education, and other factors play in a child’s chance for success, this institute will continue to share similar research with the public.

But what’s most interesting about the “Opportunity Atlas” is the different ways one could interpret the data. For example, imagine you are a new parent researching your own neighborhood. You put in your address, and see that, in fact, this neighborhood is not the “best” opportunity for your child! AHHH!! Panic may ensue!

However, the researchers at Opportunity Insights have a point when they argue that we cannot stop at research, and therefore, we would urge readers to look at this map as places for potential change, recognizing that non-profits like Environmentalists for Effective Education are working on solutions to make MORE neighborhoods “areas of opportunity.”

Opportunity Insights points out that generally, “the good neighborhoods tend to have some combination of a few quantifiable traits: less economic and racial segregation, less inequality, better performing schools, lower crime, and more two-parent families.”

Some parents are likely to look at the Opportunity Atlas maps and find justifications for moving out of struggling neighborhoods and into neighborhoods that promise better life outcomes for their children. But we are hopeful that policymakers will also begin to focus on using strategies that can turn struggling neighborhoods into thriving, more appealing places to live. There are ways to help improve the opportunities for all children in underprivileged neighborhoods. So, research the communities you care about on the Opportunity Atlas, and then watch this short video to learn more about how we can change the fate of neighborhoods.