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​Measuring Mobility in Mecklenburg: Partnership Develops First-of-Its-Kind Equity Dashboard


A new tool to measure Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s collective progress on economic mobility is now live. Mecklenburg County is one of several organizations that worked in partnership to develop and launch the Opportunity Compass.


The new tool, first of its kind in the nation, is a step forward in the effort to improve lives of local families after a 2014 national study ranked Charlotte last in economic mobility. Development of the Opportunity Compass was spearheaded by Leading on Opportunity, which works to improve economic mobility in the Charlotte area. While the community’s focus on improving economic mobility has been heralded nationwide, measuring the combined impact has been elusive until now. 


The Opportunity Compass will assist in guiding the strategy and measuring the progress of local efforts. It is available for anyone to examine data in one place and allows organizations to track and measure research-backed interventions to advance the overall goal of improving local economic mobility. The Opportunity Compass measures four of the determinants of economic mobility identified in the Opportunity Task Force Report: 

  • College and career readiness 
  • Child and family stability 
  • Early care and education 
  • Segregation


The Opportunity Compass tracks evidence-based drivers of economic mobility, nearly half of which were tracked in the 2014 Land of Opportunity Study. It uses primarily publicly available data, such as the American Community Survey, from 2015-2019 to establish a baseline, and it helps local leaders determine the most effective interventions to improve lives in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region. The data reveals that the community is moving in the right direction on 23 of the 33 areas measured. 


The Land of Opportunity Study, commonly referred to as the Chetty Study, galvanized leaders in the region determined to help children reach their full potential. Twenty community leaders across sectors spent nearly two years creating the 2017 Opportunity Task Force Report, giving local organizations a common language, 21 research and community informed strategies, as well as nearly 100 recommendations to advance economic mobility.  


“The Land of Opportunity study was a nationwide wakeup call that achieving the American Dream is not the reality for everyone … Charlotte is leading the way in using evidence-based strategies to improve local opportunity and is now creating a location-specific tool to measure the impact of their collective work,” said Sarah Oppenheimer, Opportunity Insights Executive Director. Opportunity Insights is a Harvard University-based research and policy institute focused on improving economic opportunity. 


“Leading on Opportunity is still guided by our North star that every child in Charlotte-Mecklenburg will have a chance to achieve social and economic success,” said Leading on Opportunity Executive Director Sherri Chisholm. “Providing decision-makers with a tool like the Opportunity Compass to guide strategy and measure progress is a demonstration of our commitment to this work and our children.”