About the 2020 State of Opportunity in America Report

Across the country, fragile communities face barriers to opportunity, including high levels of poverty, low-performing schools, inequities in law enforcement and limited economic opportunities. These communities are in urban, rural and increasingly suburban areas, and they include people of all races and ethnicities. For years, researchers and policy-makers have debated the entrenched poverty and lack of social mobility that plague such communities.

Too often, this research has had a paternalistic or “ivory tower” feel in which those conducting the research see themselves as solving the problems of those they study rather than including them as active participants in the problem-solving. The Center for Advancing Opportunity (CAO) has partnered with Gallup to approach these issues in a different manner that begins with listening closely to the people who live in these communities. The idea is that there can be no conversation around removing the barriers to opportunity without including those who live in the communities that are most impacted.

View or Download the Report

To help the Center accomplish this vision, Gallup launched one of the most comprehensive efforts of its kind – a six-month qualitative and quantitative survey of residents in fragile communities in four metropolitan areas: Birmingham, AL; Cleveland, OH; Fresno, CA and Chicago, IL. Using these insights, Gallup mailed a questionnaire to 28,000 people in urban and rural fragile communities nationwide, with more than 6,230 responding to produce a rich collection of insights on their lives and experiences. This survey is unprecedented in its field, with an exceptionally large and diverse sample size yielding actionable and sometimes counter-intuitive insights.

69% of those living in fragile communities are unsatisfied with job training availability, 57% aren't satisfied with the availability of college programs.

Education Opportunity

38% of Black residents in fragile communities report that children in their area do not have access to high-quality education, while 50% say they don’t have access to an affordable college education.

How important is a college education today?

Very Important


Somewhat Important

Not At All Important


A college education is considered important by 87% of Black residents in Fragile Communities.

July 2020

The State of Opportunity in America Regional Reports

The State of Opportunity study surveyed residents of fragile communities (FCs) in 11 cities and the Appalachian mountains, exploring the challenges in each region.  Click or tap a city on the map, or select from the dropdown below to see the regional report.


CAO State of Opportunity in Appalachia – July 2020


CAO State of Opportunity in Atlanta – July 2020


CAO State of Opportunity in Boston – July 2020


CAO State of Opportunity in Chicago – July 2020


CAO State of Opportunity in Dallas – July 2020


CAO State of Opportunity in DC-Baltimore – July 2020


CAO State of Opportunity in Houston – July 2020

Los Angeles

CAO State of Opportunity in Los Angeles – July 2020


CAO State of Opportunity in Miami – July 2020

New York

CAO State of Opportunity in New York – July 2020


CAO State of Opportunity in Philadelphia – July 2020

San Francisco

CAO State of Opportunity in San Francisco – July 2020


CAO Data Visualization Tools

Leverage the data from our State of Opportunity in America reports using our data visualization tools.

2018 - 2019

Previous State of Opportunity in America Reports

Review the previous reports on the State of Opportunity in America from the Center for Advancing Opportunity.