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October 22, 2013 / Christian Clansky

Mapping opportunity

“[T]oday, our American Dream is at risk. Too often it’s your zip code that predetermines your destiny.” That’s the driving idea behind the Opportunity Index, a massive collection of data that maps and compares indicators that determine economic mobility. The project comes from Measure of America, a project of the Social Science Research Council, and advocacy group Opportunity Nation.

Indicators are broken down by county and cover a wide range of philanthropic/nonprofit issue areas – workforce, wages, poverty, affordable housing, education, safety, food access, and access to care, among others. These indicators are then aggregated and compared to a national average.

Our region fares above the national average in most categories, but there are significant differences between local jurisdictions. Fairfax City, for example, has an “opportunity score” of 71.5/100 while Prince George’s County sits at just 49.6.

COMMUNITY | The Horizon Foundation has launched a new campaign that wants us to “burp better” – which is to say, drink healthier beverages. Check out the campaign, including a video that will air on some cable networks, on the Howard County Unsweetened page.

– Chu’ Qul HaD vItu’, ahem, sorry. There I go writing in Klingon again. A new study finds that the language gap between lower and higher income children is formed as early as 18 months. The study is positioned to strengthen policy debates in favor of pre-K education. (NYT, 10/21)

– Continuing its series about local millennials, the Post writes about how the District’s schools are a major point of concern for young parents. (WaPo, 10/22)

Related editorial: An improving record for D.C. Public Schools (WaPo, 10/22)

TRANSIT | The Opportunity Index isn’t the only neat data tool today. The Council of Governments just opened a new data hub focused on the many transportation projects that are planned around the region.

PHILANTHROPY | The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has named La June Montgomery Tabron as its new president. (Chronicle, 10/22)

HOUSING | A few years ago, a study from George Mason University found that Fairfax County needs to create 50,000 affordable housing units by 2030. Attempts to address this problem through policy changes are causing tension among the county’s elected officials. (WaPo, 10/21)

INNOVATION | CNN put together a list of 10 thinkers whose ideas are shaping the world. It’s not necessarily related to the social sector, but it is definitely neat stuff! (CNN, 10/22)

HEALTH | Health insurance exchange launched despite signs of serious problems (WaPo, 10/22)

Exciting news in the world of movies. Tim Burton is in talks to direct a sequel to Beetlejuice with Michael Keaton back as the ghost with the most! To celebrate, he’s the best scene from the original.

And for those of you who inexplicably don’t like Tim Burton, check out this simple way of lighting up entire valleys.

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