Upward Mobility

Strong communities create strong individuals.

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Photo by Monstera


Communities can foster environments for citizens to thrive and boost their upward mobility. The conditions most local to a family are also most critical to achieve mobility from poverty. Mobility from poverty includes economic success, power and autonomy, and being valued in a community.

To measure how upwardly mobile a community is, there are three key drivers tied to the definition:

  1. Strong and health families
  2. Supportive communities
  3. Opportunities to learn and earn

Each driver has evidence-based metrics associated with it that can highlight the strengths and weaknesses of a community, and track progress on goals to improve the lives of its residents. These metrics can then inform community leaders where priorities should be to ensure that citizens have the opportunity to reach their full potential and be well-rounded individuals.

This project was inspired and has intended to follow the research report Boosting Upward Mobility: Metrics to Inform Local Action.

White Blue and Gray houses in a line on a street Photo by Pixabay


Having a place to call "home" provides a place where families can feel secure and at peace. Housing instability can add barriers to employment, and take away a sense of belonging.

We measure the percent of public school children ever homeless during the school year, which often reflects overall housing instability in a community.

Access To Healthcare

Access to quality primary care is an important building block to supporting healthy families for preventative medicine as well as management of chronic conditions.

We look at access to primary care facilities for counties across the US and identify areas with shortages of healthcare professionals.

Crop man putting medical mask on face of ethnic child Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

Local Governance

High voter turnout signifies political engagement within the community. Low voter turnout may be a reflection of barriers to participation, including inconvenient polling location hours, or difficult processes to obtain absentee ballots.

We measure voter turnout for voting eligible populations in elections.


Everyone wants to feel a sense of belonging in the place they live. Neighborhoods that are diverse and welcoming foster thriving communities and successful families.

We measure economic inclusion, racial diversity, transportation access, and air quality index.


Feeling safe in the community we live in reduces stress, and allows individuals to focus on things that will move their life forward.

We measure exposure to violent crime and rate of juvenile incarceration.

Access to Education

Attending quality schools as early as possible is correlated with higher academic achievement later in life. This includes access to preschool for young children, and being enrolled in high-achieving schools as they grow.

We measure the proportion of eligible children enrolled in preschool, and the change in English Language Arts achievement in schools.


Access to stable employment provides both economic stability and a feeling of purpose. Jobs support economic success and control over one’s life.

We measure the employment-to-population ratio for citizens during their prime working years.

Cheerful businesswoman reading documents in folder Photo by Ono Kosuki

Financial Wellbeing

In order to achieve upward mobility, earning enough is a critical factor. Not being able to meet basic financial needs is stressful, and prevents families from affording things they want or need.

We measure both the share of households in debt collections and household income within a community to understand the financial situation within a community, as well as income inequality.