CAO Releases Report on the Biggest Barriers to Opportunity for Residents Living in Fragile Communities

WASHINGTON — In order to identify barriers to opportunity for members of fragile communities across the country and provide better solutions for them, the Center for Advancing Opportunity (CAO) has released its second annual State of Opportunity in America report in collaboration with Thurgood Marshall College Fund, The Charles Koch Foundation, Koch Industries and Gallup Inc.

The report provides insight into some of the most pressing issues addressed by CAO’s three pillars of focus: criminal justice reform, education reform and economic mobility. The report highlights these key findings:

  • Though black and Hispanic residents of fragile communities are less likely than whites to feel that people like themselves are treated fairly by their local police or legal system, they are more likely than whites to say they would like the police to spend more time in their area.
  • Among residents of fragile communities with children under 18 in their households, less than half say they are “extremely satisfied” (9%) or “satisfied” (37%) with the quality of public K-12 schools in their area.
  • Among fragile community residents, 36% said they find it difficult to get by compared with 17% of Americans overall. Only 18% of residents said they are living comfortably compared with 45% of Americans overall.

The report is based on a nationwide survey of 5,784 Americans from 47 states living in areas of concentrated poverty. The survey was conducted from July through September 2018.

“In order to fully understand the barriers to opportunity in America’s fragile communities, we need to hear these experiences from residents first hand,” said Gerard Robinson, CAO’s executive director. “Looking to the future, CAO will build on this report with additional research to develop solutions for a happier, more fulfilling life for millions of Americans.”

The report, released Sunday evening at the CAO Summit in Washington, will inform the next two days of summit discussions with scholars from historically black colleges and universities and other experts tackling the issues raised in the research. In the coming year, CAO and Gallup will continue to study the perceptions and experiences most strongly related to the ability of residents of fragile communities to realize their potential and have confidence that they can improve their lives.

“CAO and the scholars it supports are working to discover the best ways to break down the cultural, economic and educational barriers that prevent too many Americans from reaching their potential,” said Brennan Brown, director of educational partnerships for the Charles Koch Foundation. “We’re excited to partner with CAO on its innovative approach to solving some of the most vexing issues facing society by gathering this unique input from people experiencing these barriers firsthand.”