Young student in the American Indian Youth Enrichment after-school program, which provides culturally-relevant educational support for Saint Paul youth in grades 1-6.
By Randi Ilyse Roth, Executive Director
The Opportunity Index ranks states and counties by the opportunities they provide residents. Minnesota ranks number 10 among states for overall opportunity, but when we disaggregate by county, we see that Ramsey County does not share in the state’s overall success.
The Opportunity Score shows how zip codes influence life outcomes. The index measures factors such as median income, access to affordable housing, access to preschool and to post-secondary certification or degrees, community safety, and the extent to which youth are disconnected from work and school.
The index scores community, economic, and educational opportunities to reach an overall score.
- Ramsey County’s Community Score of 52 is built from factors affecting community health and civic life. It is worse than the national average of 55.5, and worse than the state average of 64.8.
- Ramsey County’s Economy Score of 54.1 is slightly better than the national average of 53.7, but worse than Minnesota’s overall score of 61.3. This score factors in unemployment, median income, and the availability of banking, affordable housing, and the internet.
- Ramsey County’s Education Score of 56.4 is slightly better than the scores for the nation and the state—but this data source does not disaggregate by race. Once we disaggregate, Ramsey County education data causes great concern.
How do we increase opportunity in Minnesota and in Ramsey County? What can the faith community do? We have to work to meet basic needs, and we have to work to increase opportunity in our community.
Interfaith Action has long supported the faith community in meeting basic needs. Project Home, for example, provides shelter for guest families and supports them as they transition to more permanent housing that is right for them. The Department of Indian Work Emergency Services provides nutritious food and warm clothing.
In August, Interfaith Action will launch a new program, Opportunity Saint Paul (OSP), to build opportunity in our community. OSP will provide volunteers with the chance to work one shift per week at a highly effective nonprofit organization, the opportunity to join in a learning community, and the tools to take the information back to their own faith communities to help spread the word and recruit more volunteers.
Deuteronomy 30:19, tells us that, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. You shall choose life, so that you and your offspring will live…” Let’s all pledge to choose life, and to be a blessing to our direct offspring and to our community by taking actions and engaging in learning that will make a difference.
Randi Ilyse Roth