Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Measuring Opportunity

Opportunity Nation has developed an Opportunity Index, based on the principal that looking at the country’s GDP and poverty rate are an inadequate way to determine opportunity. The index includes an interactive map and a state ranking list. The opportunity index measures a number of indicators at the county and state levels that contribute to economic opportunity and mobility. The index includes indicators that have a demonstrated connection to expanding or restricting economic mobility and opportunity and measures the opportunities that are present in different communities (including: employment, education, access to medical care, etc.).

In considering what policy actions are needed in a state or community – it is critical to have data to understand the current circumstances. Collecting and disaggregating data enables policymakers to have a sense of what the current trends are and how those trends are impacting different communities.

For more information on the importance of data and for state data tied to results-based policy solutions, visit’s state data center.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Rental Assistance and Economic Opportunity

In collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation’s How Housing Matters Initiative, Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity is running a series of commentaries on How Housing Matters to Families and Communities. The series includes information on the intersection of housing and health, economic opportunity and education. The latest piece in the series is Rental Assistance: A Drag on Work or a Platform for Economic Opportunity? by Jeffrey Lubell from the Center for Housing Policy. In the piece Lubell comments on the concern expressed by some that receiving housing vouchers might have a negative impact on earnings. The issue brief states that there are aspects of housing assistance that promote and hinder work efforts and, over the long-term, these aspects more or less offset each other; resulting in no persistent long-term impact. The brief goes on to suggest that by addressing the aspects that negatively impact work and building up the positive ones that rental assistance could become a platform for greater economic opportunity.

To learn more about how housing impacts families and communities.

Visit our Investing in Community Change blog to read about the impact of housing and health in the post: Funders and Policymakers Increasingly Support Innovative Models to Address Housing and Health .

For results-based strategies to promote affordable housing visit PolicyforResults.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Preventing Childhood Obesity – My Plate

MyPlate is a new resource from the Let’s Move Campaign and the USDA. The tool is intended to help simplify making healthy eating choices. The icon, built off of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for all Americans can also be used to consider the nutritional needs of specific audiences such as pregnant and nursing mothers, preschoolers, children and those who are interested in healthy ways to loose weight. MyPlate also includes resources to learn more about healthy foods, ways to eat healthy on a budget and resources in Spanish, among others.

Tools like MyPlate and the efforts around the Let’s Move Campaign are important in light of the significant research around health in the United States. The Trust for America’s Health Report, F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future, 2011 states that, two-thirds of adults and nearly one-third of children and teens are currently obese or overweight, putting them at increased risk for more than 20 major diseases, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It’s not just our health that is suffering however; it is also impacting our economy. The report goes on to state that obesity-related medical costs and a less productive workforce are hampering America’s ability to compete in the global economy.

For state policy strategies to prevent childhood obesity, visit PolicyforResults,org.