“Building an Infrastructure of Opportunity for the Next Generation” takes a deep look at prospects and challenges for the region’s 15- to -24-year-olds. Southern communities need to create an “infrastructure of opportunity” for youth and young adults that is as seamless as the electric grid or the water system—and just as essential.

That infrastructure consists of a clear and deliberate set of pathways and supports that connect youth and young adults to educational credentials and economic opportunity.

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From the blog

“Either we own the issue or the outcome:” Economic Mobility in Western NC

“Because it mattered to me and my family.” “Because people matter.” “Because the alternative is stagnation.” “Because kids deserve to have their dreams within reach.” These are just some of the responses we got when we asked a room of leaders in Swain, Jackson, Macon counties and the Qualla Boundary to complete the phrase, “Mobility matters in Western North Carolina because … .” Representatives from higher education, the K-12 system, economic development, and philanthropy came together two weeks ago for a work session on increasing the odds for upward mobility in the region. Earlier this year, MDC and the John M. Belk Endowment released a report examining economic mobility across North Carolina and how communities are responding to recent Equality of Opportunity research showing that intergenerational poverty is particularly dire in the South compared to other U.S. regions. We wanted to look at the nuanced ways that our home state of North Carolina, a state grounded in Southern geography, history, and identity, reflects the patterns of “stickiness” illuminated by the Equality of Opportunity Project. Researchers looked at economic mobility in “commuting zones” (regional economies that share a labor force and sometimes cross county or state lines). In the commuting zones that encompass Swain, Jackson, and Macon Counties, one third of children born into the lowest income quintile will remain in the bottom as adults. An additional half will rise only to the second-lowest or middle income quintiles, leaving only one-fifth of low-income children rising to the upper or upper-middle quintiles as adults. And these counties fare better in terms of economic mobility compared to their in-state neighbors: 19 of... read more

Land of the Free and Home of the Unequal Income

A new report released last month by the Economic Policy Institute displays data on the extensive income inequality across the United States. With the gap between the rich and the poor increasingly widening, traversing what CityLab best describes as an income “chasm” can be exceptionally difficult for those at the bottom of the income distribution.

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intro-kidAt the root of the uncertainty lies a pervasive doubt: whether the South can sustain the American Dream of each generation moving up and doing better than previous generations.

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