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Washtenaw County set to launch updated Opportunity Index

Contact: Peter Lindeman, lindemanp@washtenaw.org, 734-417-4021

WASHTENAW COUNTY – Later this month, the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED) will be launching the 2020 Opportunity Index. The 2020 Opportunity Index builds off the original 2015 Index, using key data points across five categories – health, job access, economic well-being, education and training, and community engagement and stability – to measure how where you live in Washtenaw County impacts your access to opportunity. The updated Index was created by OCED in partnership with University of Michigan Poverty Solutions, along with a variety of community data partners.

“Structural factors like housing affordability, access to healthcare or early childhood education, and others have a huge impact on an individual’s ability to thrive,” said Teresa Gillotti, director of OCED. “The 2020 Opportunity Index is a tool for policymakers, service organizations, and the community at large to leverage data to foster increased equity in Washtenaw County.”

“Poverty Solutions is a proud partner of the 2020 Opportunity Index,” said Julia Weinert, managing director for University of Michigan Poverty Solutions. “This project has the ability to inform local leaders in their efforts to promote economic mobility by using data and research, which is a mainspring of our collaboration.”

On April 29th from 2-4pmWashtenaw County will host a special Zoom event, DATA DRIVING EQUITY, to officially launch the 2020 Opportunity Index. County leaders and U of M Poverty Solutions will present key findings of the index, demonstrate how to navigate the tool, and explore how to use the data to inform decisions about programming and policy. Register for the event here: www.Washtenaw.me/DataDrivingEquity

“As elected officials, the actions we take should be informed by data to maximize the positive impact we are having in the community,” said Justin Hodge, Washtenaw County commissioner for District 5. “The Board of Commissioners is fully committed to using this important tool to tackle structural inequity in our county so that everyone has the opportunity to meet their full potential.”

At their April 7th meeting, the Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to integrate the 2020 Opportunity Index into county operations. The resolution mandates the Board utilizes the index as part of their review process for new policies. It also instructs Washtenaw County Government offices and departments to use the index when developing and refining programs, as well as when creating strategic action plans. Moving forward, the Opportunity Index will be updated every other year to ensure decisions are being made with the most up to date understanding of structural disparities in Washtenaw County.

 The 2020 Opportunity Index will officially be live at www.opportunitywashtenaw.org starting on Monday, 4/26.

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Washtenaw County OCED is a government agency committed to stepping out of traditional government roles to drive long-term system changes that increase equity and opportunity for all residents. You can learn more by visiting Washtenaw.org/oced or by following @washtenawOCED on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners is comprised of nine elected officials representing different Washtenaw County communities. The current Board will serve from January 2021 through December 2022.

Click here to find the list of Commissioners by district.  You can stay up to date on the latest from the Board of Commissioners by visiting Washtenaw.org/BOC, or by following them on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Release courtesy of Washtenaw County OCED