By: Kyle Baltuch, Senior Vice President of Equality of Opportunity, Florida Chamber Foundation
In 1968, the Florida Chamber Foundation was established. With a goal of researching and providing innovative solutions for the greatest challenges that Florida and its residents face, the Florida Chamber Foundation’s work has led to the creation of agencies such as Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida, while spearheading strategic investments in infrastructure and education.
The goal, mission, and direction provided by our volunteer leadership has always been clear; ensure Florida is best situated to foster economic growth for its residents and businesses.
Yet, one challenge has consistently plagued Florida, and the United States as a whole.
In 1968, 15.6 percent of all U.S. children, under the age of 18, lived at or below the Federal poverty line. Today, that number is at 16.1 percent.
When it comes to third-grade reading, data availability is extraordinarily limited. However, we do know that 4th-grade reading proficiency across our country has remained relatively consistent dating back to 1992 (the first year of data availability).
Over this time span, public, private, and non-profit leaders have spent countless resources and hours working to address the issue of childhood poverty. In fact, estimates show that nearly $26 trillion have been spent by the federal government over that same time period, while non-profits spend upwards of $2 trillion annually to combat this inequity. Yet, the outcomes remain the same.
What if they don’t have to?
On October 24, the Florida Chamber Foundation, in partnership with the Florida Prosperity Project Advisory Board, the Florida Business Alliance for Early Learning Project Advisory Board, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation launched the latest iteration of the Florida Gap Map in an innovative format that will forever change the way we address inequality.
The latest version of the Florida Gap Map, an evolution of the Florida Chamber Foundation’s work to address childhood poverty and early learning throughout Florida, is the nation’s first tool that not only identifies concentrations of childhood poverty at the zip code level and third-grade reading proficiency at the school level, it now also takes the next step to identify the root cause challenges our children face each and every day.
Users now have immediate access to zip code level analysis that outlines the percentage of three & four-year-olds enrolled in school, the monthly housing costs to homeowners and renters, the percentage of single-parent households, and nearly 100 additional metrics broken down by root cause for each zip code in Florida.
By enlisting the power of the Florida Gap Map, business leaders, non-profit administrators, and policymakers will be able to tailor efforts to ensure specific resources are deployed to match the unique challenges in each of Florida’s 983 zip codes.
The days of blanket policy, generalized philanthropic giving, and community resource gaps have come to an end. Using the insights and analysis provided by the Florida Gap Map, we have the opportunity to radically change how we address systemic inequalities, and ensure every child in Florida truly has an equal opportunity at earned success.
To learn more about the Florida Gap Map, how your organization can effectively use this tool to effect change in your community, or to set up a custom demonstration, please email us at FloridaGapMap@flchamber.com.