The youth of the Fox Cities and concerns about poverty top the list of priorities for community action determined by about 200 local residents who came together to hear key data from the new 2016 LIFE (Leading Indicators for Excellence) Study. During the Fox Cities LIFE Study Dive-In Day on June 20, attendees reviewed data associated with 20 themes across seven areas of community life. Attendees were asked to prioritize the themes according to the seriousness of the theme and feasibility that community action can create a positive change.
The release of study data at FoxCitiesLifeStudy.org and the priorities were announced at a news conference at Menasha’s Jefferson Park June 21. The top theme priorities are:
- Poverty – While there is no significant climb in child and overall poverty rates, more people are enrolling in the Wisconsin Works (W-2) program and using food stamps, the number of working poor seems to be growing and people marginally above the poverty threshold are susceptible to food insecurity.
- Youth Health – The region saw a reduction in alcohol consumption and binge drinking among high schoolers, but suicide attempts exceed state and national averages.
- Youth Safety – Bullying, physical and electronic, are both higher than the state and national averages. While child abuse and neglect rates decreased, they exceed the state average in Outagamie and Winnebago counties.
- Student Performance – Free and reduced lunch numbers are rising. Students demonstrated 40% reading proficiency and only a bit over 50% math proficiency. The gap for those economically disadvantaged declined but remains significant.
The research for the LIFE Study was conducted by Community Research Partners, a research and evaluation firm in Columbus, Ohio. The study was funded by United Way Fox Cities, the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region and the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce and Industry. For the first time, a cross section of the community came together to determine priorities for community action based on key study data. This is the fourth LIFE Study, following others in 2001, 2006, and 2011.
Data dive, June 20
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