08.06.20

CAO, Gallup Research Finds Fragile Community Residents Struggling in Key Aspects of Their Lives As Pandemic, Unrest Hit

Challenges Include Experiences With the Police, Access to High-Quality Education and Employment Opportunities

WASHINGTON, DC — In America’s fragile communities, residents face numerous barriers to opportunity that hinder their ability to lead fulfilling and prosperous lives. Today the Center for Advancing Opportunity and Gallup released their third study on the lived experiences of residents of these communities — geographic areas with concentrated poverty and limited access to educational and economic opportunities.

The study was conducted at the national and local level in the 11 largest urban areas in the US — AtlantaBostonChicagoDallas, DC metropolitan area, HoustonLos AngelesMiamiNew YorkPhiladelphia and San Francisco — and Appalachia.

Among key findings from the State of Opportunity in America, 2020 report:

  • 60% of Black fragile community residents know “some” or “a lot” of people who were treated unfairly by the police, while 49% said they know some or a lot who were unfairly sent to jail.
  • 52% of Black fragile community residents and 59% of Hispanic fragile community residents would like the police to spend more time in their area, compared with 46% of White fragile community residents. In urban fragile communities, 53% of residents would like to see a greater police presence, compared with 41% of rural fragile community residents.
  • While almost half of Americans overall (47%) said in 2019 they were “living comfortably” on their current income, just one in five (20%) among fragile community residents responded this way.
  • 28% of fragile community residents “strongly agree” or “agree” all people in their area have access to an affordable college education. This contrasts with views on the importance of a college education today, particularly among minority groups: 89% of Hispanic fragile community residents, 87% of Black fragile community residents and 68% of White fragile community residents say it is very important or important.
  • 58% of fragile community residents said they were satisfied with the availability of quality healthcare in their area, vs. 74% of Americans overall.

Criminal justice
At the time of the survey, just under one-fourth (24%) of Black fragile community residents said they were “very confident” local police would treat them with courtesy and respect, compared with one-third (33%) of Hispanic residents and almost half (47%) of White residents.

This disparity is magnified in the treatment fragile community residents have witnessed. Sixty percent of Black fragile community residents said they knew “some” or “a lot” of people who were treated unfairly by the police, compared with 31% of White residents and 39% of Hispanic residents in fragile communities. Further, close to half of Black fragile community residents (49%) said they know “some” or “a lot” of people who were unfairly sent to jail, compared with less than a quarter of White (19%) or Hispanic (23%) residents.

Despite these negative experiences, a majority of Black and Hispanic fragile community residents would like the police to spend more time in their area – 52% and 59%, respectively. In urban areas, 53% of fragile community residents would like to see an increased police presence. Meanwhile, 46% of White fragile community residents and 41% of rural fragile community residents would like to see the same.

Economic status and opportunity
While almost half of Americans overall (47%) said in 2019 they were “living comfortably” on their current income, just one in five (20%) of fragile community residents responded this way, with 35% saying they were finding it “difficult” or “very difficult” to live on their current income.

When asked what barriers to opportunity exist in their lives, fragile community residents most commonly identified a lack of enough jobs that offer career advancement (39%) and drug or alcohol addiction (35%). However, these results differed by city and region.

Education
Fragile community residents widely agree a college education is important today, especially Black and Hispanic residents. Fully 89% of Hispanic residents and 87% of Black residents say a college education is very important or important today, compared with 68% of White fragile community residents who say the same.

Still, the importance fragile community residents place on higher education is met by dissatisfaction with access — 28% of residents said they “strongly agree” or “agree” that all people in their area have access to an affordable college education if they want it.

Similarly, just 40% of fragile community residents were “extremely satisfied” or “satisfied” with the quality of K-12 schools in their area.

Mindset
Seventy percent of fragile community residents overall said they are “very confident” or “confident” they can improve their own lives, with Black (75%) and Hispanic (72%) residents somewhat more likely than White (65%) residents to feel this way.

Among the demographic and attitudinal factors that best predicted fragile community residents’ confidence in their ability to improve their own lives, self-reported health status was the most important.

“This latest update provides a powerful set of tools for anyone interested in uplifting the residents of America’s fragile communities,” said Dr. Harry L. Williams, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, one of the key partner organizations in the Center for Advancing Opportunity.

“The lives of residents of America’s fragile communities are critical to understand at this time, but they are not understood well enough,” said Camille Lloyd, director of Gallup’s Center on Black Voices. “The third year of our research on fragile communities with the Center for Advancing Opportunity reveals new opportunities as well as persistent ones that demand attention from leaders.”

To learn more about the findings and the methodology of this project, read the full report here. To explore the data further, including the local results, visit the Opportunity Dashboard. To listen to a webinar discussing the report findings, register here.

This study was conducted with support from Koch Industries (KII) and the Charles Koch Foundation (CKF), an organization that partners with other nonprofits and educational institutions that seeks to remove barriers to opportunity that prevent Americans from reaching their full potential. KII and CKF have been proud partners of CAO since 2017.

About the Center for Advancing Opportunity
The Center for Advancing Opportunity (CAO) is a research and education initiative affiliated with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. CAO supports students and faculty at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other institutions in developing research-based solutions to the most pressing issues in fragile communities: education, entrepreneurship, criminal justice and overall economic conditions.

About Gallup
Gallup delivers analytics and advice to help leaders and organizations solve their most pressing problems. Combining more than 80 years of experience with its global reach, Gallup knows more about the attitudes and behaviors of employees, customers, students and citizens than any other organization in the world.

MEDIA CONTACTS
Gallup
Riley Brands
Riley_brands@gallup.com
202-715-3106

Thurgood Marshall College Fund/Center for Advancing Opportunity
Jamal Watson
Jamal.Watson@tmcf.org
202-888-0039

SOURCE Gallup, Inc.

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