June Sparks: New Opportunity Index, Census 2020, Why Juneteenth Should Be Taught in Schools, and More

What’s Your Community’s Opportunity Score?
Check Out the New Opportunity Index

The latest Opportunity Index debuted on June 13. The launch kicked off with a convening in Washington, DC where speakers from Opportunity Nation and The Forum for Youth Investment, CIRCLE and the Annie E. Casey Foundation shared the latest data on the state of opportunity and equity in America.

The Opportunity Index is an annual multidimensional snapshot of opportunity at the state and county levels. Each year, Opportunity Nation assesses all 50 states and nearly every county on 20 indicators related to the economy, education, health and community life.

“Every child should have somebody who loves them and who is willing to see their potential.”

-Michelle Massie, Director of Opportunity Nation

In an exclusive conversation with SparkAction, Michelle Massie, the Director of Opportunity Nation, discusses why the Index is so personally important to her and how she and her team hope to change the understanding of and discourse surrounding access to opportunity in America.

The All New Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT Data Book is Here!

Each year, the Annie E. Casey Foundation publishes a comprehensive look at child well-being nationally and state by state. For its 30th edition, the Data Book explores how the American childhood experience has changed since 1990.

Some positive changes include the fact that more teens are graduating from high school and delaying parenthood, and access to children’s health insurance has increased compared to even just seven years ago. However, new data also reveals that racial inequities remain systemic and stubbornly persistent and 12 percent of kids across the country are still growing up in areas of concentrated poverty.

Paired with resources like the Opportunity Index, above, there are many ways to use this data to better understand and meet the needs of children, young people and families.

For more, you can find the full KIDS COUNT data book here.

Good Reads from SparkAction and Our Partners

  • How I Carried on My Grandfather’s Legacy by Meeting with Rep. John Lewis
    by Shanice Turner

During the Civil Rights Movement, Shanice Turner’s grandfather marched with Martin Luther King Junior. Today, Shanice is a champion for Opportunity Youth and a leader in the Reconnecting Youth Campaign.

In this reflection, Shanice shares the story of meeting with U.S. Representative John Lewis and how she carried on her grandfather’s legacy during their conversation on Capitol Hill. Read the full story.

  • Why Isn’t Juneteenth Taught in Schools?
    by Daisia Farley

Our summer intern Daisia Farley served as president of the Organization for Students of African Descent at her college. In this blog, she shares how it felt when she first learned about Juneteenth—and why she believes our schools and communities should do more to acknowledge it. Read the blog post.

  • States Rely on Federal Youth Justice Funding: Here’s How
    by Act4JJ

The Act4JJ team provides a look at how states use federal youth justice funding for mentoring, rehabilitation and alternatives to incarceration, and the impact that a decade of cuts to these funds is having on effective approaches. Read the article.

  • The Federal Data Strategy Year-One Action Plan: What It Is, Why You Should Care, and How to Weigh In

The latest policy alignment blog from our parent organization, The Forum for Youth Investment, examines the federal government’s newly released Year-One Action Plan for the Federal Data Strategy, which lays out the norms and expectations for federal agency data collection and evidence use. What do the 16 action steps mean, and how will they help agencies elevate evaluation and use evidence for improvement and decision-making? Read to find out.

  • “Leaving Home, but Keeping the Smell of Dried Lavender Leaves”: How I Think About Self-Care
    by Abeer Pamuk

In this personal essay, SparkAction’s former Atlas Corps fellow Abeer Pamuk, who left Syria behind when the war started, explains how she takes care of herself in ways that remind her of home. Read more.

Census 2020: #WeCount and #CountAllKids

On June 27, the Supreme Court ruled that the citizenship question cannot, for now, be included in the 2020 Census. Organizations are analyzing the ruling to understand what’s next. You can follow The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR) and CountAllKids.org to stay on top of these developments. You can also read through and utilize the hashtags #WeCount and #CountAllKids to join the dialogue on social media.

The 2020 Census is critical in determining representation and allocation of federal spending; in the last decennial census, young children under 5 were undercounted at a higher rate than any other age group.

But we have the chance to make sure that kids in America are counted accurately next April! Use this toolkit to stand with us to make sure we #CountAllKids.