Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

"Cradle to Prison Pipeline" Report

The Children's Defense Fund has issued a report called America's Cradle to Prison Pipeline. The report identifies what it calls "an urgent national crisis at the intersection of poverty and race that puts Black boys at a one in three lifetime risk of going to jail, and Latino boys at a one in six lifetime risk of the same fate."

The narrative is compelling. The photos are haunting. But the real story, and why I'm bringing this report to your attention, is the constellation of indicators that together tell a story that both saddens and overwhelms.

It is in this appendix (PDF document) that we see a series of state-by-state indicators that begin with the number of children and advance chronologically through childbirth, poverty, school, foster care, abuse, dropping out, gun violence, and incarceration. The picture is bleak.

But I would like you to review the use of indicators to make the point. And think about how you use indicators to tell the stories of your community.


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