Highlighting successes and obstacles connected to upward mobility, the Index measures economic, educational, health and civic opportunity at state and county levels for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It uniquely combines data with other indicators to help policymakers and community leaders identify challenges and solutions. Explore the data and share Index Scores with your community.
Opportunity Nation is a bipartisan, national campaign of the Forum for Youth Investment, comprised of more than 350 cross-sector organizations working together to expand economic mobility and close the opportunity gap in America. Opportunity Nation envisions the United States as a nation where everyone – regardless of where they were born – has equal access to opportunity, economic mobility, and success at all stages of life.
Through the efforts of the Coalition and findings from the Opportunity Index, Opportunity Nation works to combat inequality and ensure that people of all ages can thrive and succeed. They employ a data-driven, bipartisan, cross-sector approach to ensure America’s young people have a strong foundation towards future success.
Child Trends is the nation’s leading research organization focused exclusively on improving the lives of children and youth, especially those who are most vulnerable. Child Trends works to ensure that all kids thrive by conducting independent research and partnering with practitioners and policymakers to apply that knowledge. They believe that programs and policies that serve children are most effective when they are informed by data and evidence and grounded in deep knowledge of child and youth development. The Child Trends team includes over 200 staff with expertise in areas including psychology, sociology, social work, statistics, public health, public policy, education, and communications, who work with passion and rigor on behalf of all children in America.
At the national and state levels, the Opportunity Index is made up of 20 indicators combined to yield a score from 1 to 100 in each of the four dimensions (Economy, Education, Health, Community). The county-level Opportunity Index is made up of 17 indicators, because data for three indicators in the Community dimension (volunteering, voter registration and incarceration) are not available at the county level. The dimensions and indicators of the Index reflect the evidence for what constitutes thriving communities: an economy that works for all; learning opportunities that build the skills and knowledge essential for success starting in early childhood; a preventive, wellness-oriented approach to health; and a commitment to embracing and promoting the contributions of all residents, while ensuring their health and safety.
Much of the indicator data used to compile numerical state scores and county grades A-F is gathered at both the state and county levels. By offering detailed information at both the state and county levels, policymakers, elected officials, community members and foundations get a big-picture view as well as a more localized perspective on the conditions that expand or constrict opportunity where they live.
Opportunity Nation recognizes that opportunity varies from city to city and town to town, and in many cases, even neighborhood to neighborhood. Several of the Opportunity Index indicators we use are only available at the state and county levels.
The places where people live are pivotal to the opportunities open to them. Neighborhoods and regions matter for employment, education, housing quality, law enforcement and public safety, community organizations and political processes. Some communities have characteristics that open many doors of opportunity for their residents; others do not. The Opportunity Index measures four dimensions: economic, educational, health and community indicators, to produce an overall opportunity score for all 50 U.S. states plus Washington, DC. The Index is also used to grade over 2,000 counties.
One challenge in creating a composite index is the temptation to include every data point possible. The disadvantages of this are two-fold: 1. larger indexes become difficult to use as an advocacy tool because they are too complex to explain and; 2. Often the same important goal is calculated through multiple measures. We want to ensure that the Opportunity Index is both broad and encompassing while also being useful as a tool to create community change.