Upward Mobility in Boone County Missouri


Background

Boone County has been selected as one of eight counties or municipalities into the Upward Mobility Cohort. This project receives funding from the Urban Institute, which received direct funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This award will allow Boone County to create a Mobility Action Plan focused on reducing racial and ethnic inequities and support upward mobility from poverty. A portion of the project allows the Urban Institute to provide technical assistance to support the use of mobility metrics, which include measures of economic success while also focusing on power and autonomy and being valued in the community. Boone County used these metrics to establish priorities, set targets, and catalyze future action.

Local Project

Boone County’s Upward Mobility project utilizes Results-Based Accountability (RBA) to drive equity-centered and data-informed decisions. RBA involves community stakeholders at each step of the planning process to guide implementation of intervention strategies identified by the community. Initial priorities for Boone County were set during the Upward Mobility Kickoff event, a data walk, held on August 11, 2021. This event was hosted by Boone County and the Cradle to Career Alliance. Over 40 community members gathered to review data and set priorities for the project. Data was presented based on the Mobility Metrics and include drivers of upward mobility of Strong and Healthy Families, Opportunities to Learn and Earn, and Supportive Communities. Community stakeholders identified and reached consensus on priorities to begin the strategic action planning. You can see data for Boone County here.

Initial Priorities

  1. Strong and Healthy Families
    • Local solutions to support families across the “benefits cliff” as they increase their wages and begin to lose public assistance.
      • Group members observed how interconnected each piece of data was to this driver area. Many of the issues identified stemmed from not having enough money to meet their needs. Discussion focused on how families who are trying to move up face issues as they make more in wages, they often lose public assistance. The increase in wage is often not enough to overcome the loss of the benefits (childcare subsidy, SNAP or food stamps, WIC, etc.) which is also known as the “benefit cliff”.
  2. Opportunities to Learn and Earn
    • Improve disparities of literacy scores at 3rd grade.
      • Group members discussed implementing programs offering literacy evaluations sooner in the process, specifically looking at Pre-K to 2nd grade, after school programming or incentivized reading programs.
    • Reduce opportunity gaps in workforce development and employment.
      • Group members indicated that government or municipal contracts are not reaching minority businesses which creates less opportunity for livable wages. Generational poverty was indicated as a barrier for exploring employment opportunities, keeping segments of the community in perpetual cycles of social service assistance.
    • Decreasing referrals to the 13th Circuit Juvenile Office.
      • Group members discussed certain schools within the district revealing higher rates of referrals for students of color. Discipline patterns are not consistent for children of color and white children.
  3. Supportive Communities
    • Increase available inclusive housing to reduce and mitigate neighborhood segregation.
      • Group members discussed setting priorities to address other issues, such as Adverse Childhood Experience and reimagining government to build authentic connections with local residents. However, the group concluded most all disparities originated through residential segregation.

What's Next?

Boone County will begin action planning in October 2021 and will have a Mobility Action Plan finalized and launched by June 2022. Updates about the project will be made as milestones are achieved.

How can I be involved?

If you or your organization would like to learn more or get involved in creating a Mobility Action Plan and taking steps to improve upward mobility from poverty, please reach out to communityservices@boonecountymo.org.

Mobility Metric Data for Boone County

Each Driver of upward mobility contains data for Boone County along with additional data and analysis from local sources. All data posters were produced by Boone County Community Services Department and Cradle to Career Alliance. Click on each of the posters to see more.

Strong & Healthy Families

Supportive Communities

Opportunities to Earn & Learn