Opportunity is what it’s all about. Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT) released a new assessment commissioned in partnership with JPMorgan Chase, that focuses on how to change the trajectory of what’s happening now in our region, and to work towards building a future full of opportunity.
The assessment shows that while Collin County’s rapidly expanding population and young, diverse workforce is one of the region’s greatest assets, Collin County also faces many obstacles and barriers that threaten the upward mobility of many residents, including disparities by race/ethnicity, income, educational attainment, and wealth.
What this means for low-to-moderate-income residents — and for people of color who are disproportionately represented in that category — is that access to health care, well-paying jobs and safe neighborhoods are fundamentally interrelated, and we as a community need to grapple with the reality that it is difficult for many individuals to overcome barriers to opportunity on their own.
While there are great opportunities in Collin County, there are also growing needs and we think it’s important to bring attention to those through data so we can work with our community to address these issues. This assessment is about opportunity – the opportunity for us to change the trajectory of what we see now, and to ensure a future filled with opportunity for all across our region.
— Dave Scullin, president and CEO at Communities Foundation of Texas and a Collin County resident
Every Texan, formerly known as the Center for Public Policy Priorities, conducted the research for the assessment. CFT established the Fund for Collin County with a commitment of $500,000 to provide support for nonprofits addressing the most pressing needs and promising opportunities in the communities of Collin County.
As for the impact of COVID-19, Sarah Cotton Nelson, chief philanthropy officer with Communities Foundation of Texas, shares,
We started working with JPMorgan Chase to commission Every Texan to do this report for the Collin County community in 2019. We could not have imagined how much or how quickly things would change in just one year. While we had planned on releasing this assessment in April, we instead requested Every Texan do an update on the data this summer to help us better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Collin County to date.
While it is too early to see the full impact of the pandemic on Collin County, the assessment provides some early economic indicators of how residents are faring in terms of employment, affected job sectors, and health insurance coverage. Early indicators on the impact of COVID-19 show that not all communities and populations in Collin County are impacted equally.
The pandemic presents new challenges to long-term economic opportunity that Collin County and the entire North Texas region must address.
A Look at the Numbers
The Collin County Economic Opportunity Assessment delves deeper into four indicators of economic opportunity and wellness: income/employment, educational attainment, debt and assets, and health. The combination of these four areas provides a multifaceted snapshot of the opportunities and challenges facing the community.
Many Collin County residents have high incomes, the suburban and rural areas of the county experience large gaps between high- and low-income earners, as well as between different demographic groups. The bottom fifth of earners (those living at or below poverty) saw a six percent decline in inflation-adjusted income over the past ten years – which means the poorest households in Collin County are sinking deeper into poverty, making it harder for them to become financially stable and thrive.
While overall trends before the pandemic were pointing to a more balanced economy with better income equality, the fact that the bottom tier of households lost real income over the past decade is a cause for concern. Racial and ethnic disparities persist for poverty rates within Collin County. Hispanic residents are three times as likely to experience poverty as white residents, and twice as likely as Black or Asian residents.
The median household income by race varies drastically in Collin County ($63,312 – Hispanic, $72,508 – Black, $102,674 – white, $118,264 – Asian). School districts in rural areas and with smaller populations have a greater proportion of economically disadvantaged students.
The six largest districts have up to a third of their students qualifying for free or reduced lunch. Economically disadvantaged students are three times more likely to drop out than the average student. Disparities also exist by race and ethnicity, with Black and Hispanic students being more likely to drop out than the average.
If past trends continue, only 30 percent of Collin County eighth graders will go on to earn a Texas higher education degree or certificate, and that’s only 15 percent for economically disadvantaged students. Because access to quality schools, health care, good paying jobs, and safe neighborhoods are increasingly interrelated, it is more and more difficult for families to overcome barriers to opportunity on their own.
CFT hopes the data in this report can serve as a roadmap for where and how they can focus their efforts, and that it fuels an ongoing conversation about the opportunities as well as the challenges facing Collin County.
They know that when local leaders work in partnership with nonprofits, they have the power to advance policies and programs that help families build wealth and save for the future.
Access to excellent data is the key to finding excellent approaches to close the opportunity gap in Collin County. JPMorgan Chase is proud to support this important work by Communities Foundation of Texas and Every Texan as they address deep disparities that have been becoming more pronounced during this pandemic.
— Steve Hemperly, Managing Director and DFW Location Leader for JPMorgan Chase
CFT held a virtual release of the assessment on October 22 and will begin meeting with business and community leaders across Collin County, in addition to hosting virtual workshops for local nonprofits to share and discuss the report’s findings.
Are you interested in learning more or continuing the conversation about CFT in Collin County?