Fact Sheet: The White House Launches The Opportunity Project Utilizing Open Data to Build Stronger Ladders of Opportunity for All

In the lead up to the President's historic visit to SXSW, today the Administration is announcing the launch of “The Opportunity Project,” a new open data effort to improve economic mobility for all Americans. As the President said in his State of the Union address, we must harness 21st-century technology and innovation to expand access to opportunity and tackle our greatest challenges.

The Opportunity Project will put data and tools in the hands of civic leaders, community organizations, and families to help them navigate information about critical resources such as access to jobs, housing, transportation, schools, and other neighborhood amenities. This project is about unleashing the power of data to help our children and our children’s children access the resources they need to thrive. Today, the Administration is releasing a unique package of Federal and local datasets in an easy-to-use format and accelerating a new way for the federal government to collaborate with local leaders, technologists, and community members to use data and technology to tackle inequities and strengthen their communities. 
Key components of this announcement include:
  • The launch of “The Opportunity Project” and Opportunity.Census.gov to provide easy access to the new package of Opportunity Project data, a combination of Federal and local data, on key assets that determine access to opportunity at the neighborhood level. This data can now be used by technologists, community groups, and local governments in order to help families find affordable housing, help businesses identify services they need, and help policymakers see inequities in their communities and make investments to expand fair housing and increase economic mobility. 
  • The release of a dozen new private sector and non-profit digital tools that were built in collaboration with eight cities and using the Opportunity Project data to help families, local leaders, advocates, and the media navigate information about access to jobs, housing, transportation, schools, neighborhood amenities, and other critical resources. Participating cities include Baltimore, Detroit, Kansas City, MO, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., as well as organizations and companies such as Redfin, Zillow, GreatSchools, PolicyLink andStreetwyze.
  • More than thirty additional non-profits, community organizations, coding boot camps, academic institutions, and local governments have already committed to use the Opportunity Project data to build stronger ladders of opportunity in communities across the country.
  • The Administration is issuing a Call to Action to the public to develop new tools, offer additional sources of data, deepen community engagement through the use of the data, and other actions. We want to hear about what new steps you are taking or programs you are implementing to address these topics.
This project represents an important continuation of how the Federal government is working with communities and technologists to enhance the power of open data by making it more accessible to a wide variety of users across the country, and by facilitating collaborations between software developers and community members to build digital tools that make it easier for communities and families to solve their greatest challenges.
New Administration Announcements 
Launching Opportunity.Census.gov. This new platform provides easy access to the Opportunity Project digital tools, and for software developers and community partners to access the data, build new tools, and connects with others through a community of practice, facilitated by the U.S. Census Bureau, in collaboration with the Presidential Innovation Fellows. The Administration launched this website to help ensure that an increasing number of users continue to collaborate with each other and take advantage of the Opportunity Project data. This interactive site invites software developers, data users, community leaders, and local governments to learn, connect and build as part of a larger community of practice. In addition, to support the long-term creation of applications and civic engagement, the Census Bureau created a new Opportunity Module for CitySDK, a software development kit that makes it easier to build products with open data from federal and local government. Both opportunity.census.gov and the CitySDK are open-source and available on Github.
  • Release new, comprehensive and updated data on geographic access to opportunity. For the first time, the public, including software developers, local leaders, and community groups, can access a curated list of datasets compiled for the Opportunity Project. The data informs a new mapping tool created by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a resource for communities to make more informed, data-driven investments that expand access to opportunity and reduce segregation, fulfilling long-standing obligations under the Fair Housing Act. The data also includes: publically available data generated primarily by the American Community Survey from the US Census Bureau, the authoritative data source on our nation's population and economy; open data from the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Commerce, and Agriculture; and local datasets from eight cities, with information on community assets such as playgrounds, grocery stores, and health clinics. Cities include Baltimore; Detroit, Kansas City, MO, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
  • Federal agencies will continue to engage with external developers, non-profits and community members to facilitate access to Federal and local data made available through the Opportunity Project, allowing for the development of additional tools specifically for particular populations and issue-areas. These may include LGBT youth experiencing homelessness, returning citizens experiencing re-entry challenges, unemployed and under-employed Americans searching for jobs, military veterans, people with disabilities, and rural communities
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Rural Development will enable youth to design digital tools that support rural community development. They will engage high school students in articulating the types of community assets that would attract them to remain and invest in their rural communities, and provide the results as youth-generated content for opportunity.census.gov to help other technologists partner with them to design digital tools. They will do this through a series of Opportunity Project focus groups on access to opportunity in rural areas at the Stronger Economies Together conference in September. 
Private Sector Commitments
  • Redfin released “Opportunity Score,” a tool that shows users jobs they can get to from any home or apartment, without a car, in 30 minutes or less.
  • PolicyMap released a new tool to help individuals and families looking to rent or buy a home in Philadelphia find neighborhoods with the characteristics and amenities most important to them.
  • Azavea released “transitanalyst.com,” a new tool that shows transit accessibility to community assets such as day care, health care centers, Head Start locations, healthy grocery stores, playgrounds, and recreation centers.
  • Zillow released “Invest in the Future,” a new tool that identifies areas of a city with access to opportunity that also have the potential for affordable housing development.
  • diversity.data.kids.org released the “How Affordable is Opportunity? Tool” that reveals racial and ethnic inequities in the “cost” of neighborhood opportunity for children, through narrative story maps and interactive mapping and data tools for use by policymakers, advocacy organizations, and the media.
  • Community Commons released “Location Opportunity Footprint Tool,” a new tool that shows the intersection of job proximity, school proficiency, and location affordability indices to create a customizable opportunity footprint for local advocates, non-profits, and all those seeking investment to strengthen their neighborhoods and communities.
  • Measure of America released “Data2Go.nyc,” a tool that provides up-to-date information on neighborhood assets and challenges required to craft effective solutions.
  • GreatSchools released the “Opportunity Badge” that identifies high-performing schools given the cost of living in the neighborhood and shows how schools provide access to opportunity, broken down by race and ethnicity, to help all parents make the best decisions possible for their children.
  • PolicyLink’s National Equity Atlas released a tool that illustrates access to healthy, opportunity-rich neighborhoods by race/ethnicity for the 100 largest cities, 150 largest metropolitan regions, all 50 states, and nationwide for community advocates and policymakers.
  • Streetwyze will release a new feature on its mobile app in select cities that uses the power of local knowledge to highlight “experiences” happening beneath the regulatory radar—the new feature allows residents to “ground-truth” the Opportunity Project data, create real time feedback, and improve the validity, reliability, and accuracy of data at the street level.
  • Esri incorporated opportunity data into their ArcGIS platform, Community Analyst and Business Analyst tools, which hosts 700,000 user sessions monthly, making opportunity data easily found and used by future planners and software developers. 
  • Socrata will now allow for data comparisons between cities, counties and metro areas by including Opportunity Project data in its nationwide Open Data Network, normalizing it, and optimizing it for search engines so the data is easy to discover. Opportunity Project data scan now be incorporated into all Socrata domains.  
The following organizations are committed to leveraging the Opportunity Project by developing new tools, offering additional sources of data, deepening community engagement through the use of the data, and other actions. 
Commitments to Enhance Existing Digital Tools
  • The True Colors Fund will help LGBT youth experiencing homelessness find the resources and opportunities they need to thrive by incorporating Opportunity Project data into its True Connect app, which is being developed later this year. The True Colors Fund will also release its data on safe and inclusive services under an open source license so that future teams can include LGBT-friendly resources in their digital tools.
  • The National Association of Counties (NACo) will increase county government access to information that can help families, businesses and counties officials expand access to opportunity by incorporating Opportunity Project data into the open access County Explorer tool. NACO represents all of America’s 3,069 county governments – roughly 70 percent of which are considered rural.
Commitments to Increase the Impact of Tech-Training Programs
  • Seven coding bootcamps will incorporate Opportunity Project data in their curricula and/or as part of special prize challenges. Students will be encouraged to use the data in their final projects in order to build apps and other tools that are civic-minded and relevant to the needs of their communities. Bootcamps include theTelegraph Academy, General Assembly, Operation Spark, The Iron Yard, Sabio.la, Metis, and Flatiron School.
  • General Assembly will hold a multi-city, cross-functional hackathon in conjunction with National Civic Hacking Day in June that leverages the Open Opportunity Data. The hackathon will be open to graduates from all of GA's immersive programs, including web development, Android development, user experience, data science, and product management, as well as other members of the wider GA community. Participants will collaborate, using the Opportunity Project data, to create applications and resources to make their communities stronger.
  • #YesWeCode will work with 100 tech equity focused community-based organizations across the nation to integrate Opportunity Project data into their tech skill training curriculum. They are also committed to developing a community of practice amongst 20 - 50 community college partners around curriculum integration of Opportunity Project data during their National Convening of Community Colleges in the fall of 2016.
  • The National Consortium of Data Science and Technology Meetup Organizers will coordinate a multi-city mentorship and internship program that will use Opportunity Project data and a new Civic Tech “playlist” to help youth both learn about and serve the needs of their local communities with technology. LRNG will partner with the University of Chicago and the National Science Foundation's South Big Data Hub to create the Civic Tech playlist and digital badges to connect young people across the U.S. to skills like data science.
  • The Mobile Dev Corps class at Flatiron School will work withOpportunity Project data to build mobile applications that address their communities' questions and challenges. Mobile Dev Corps is a scholarship-based training-program and a partnership between Flatiron School and the City of New York's NYC Tech Talent Pipeline.
Commitments to Deepen Community Engagement
  • The Participatory Budgeting Project will enable communities to make better budget decisions by incorporating Opportunity Project data and tools into participatory budgeting processes across the country so that neighborhood participants can have easier access to meaningful community data.
  • The City of Boston will empower young proposal developers in Youth Lead the Change, the first youth-led participatory budgeting process in the country, using data tools created through the Opportunity Project. This process will allow young people to vote on how $1 Million of Boston's capital budget will be spent. The data will help participants to access information about community spaces to evaluate neighborhood projects and assess community need.
  • Neighborland, a community engagement software platform, created a page where neighborhood residents’ ideas for improving opportunity will be uploaded and publicly accessible. This project site will be live for 3 months from today’s launch to the National Day of Civic Hacking, and the data on resident ideas will be open to developers.
  • Code for America will challenge the civic tech community to improve access to economic opportunity by using their skills to conduct user research and create civic tech apps using the Opportunity Project data as part of the National Day of Civic Hacking in June.
  • The City of New Orleans will host a Design Jam with ex-offenders, technologists, community advocates and 2-1-1 social services data stewards in April 2016 to identify requirements for digital tools needed to support re-entry, including technical, usability, and data concerns. 
Commitments to Incorporate Additional Datasets
  • Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, New York, and San Franciscowill support advocacy for better opportunity in neighborhoods for people with disabilities by identifying and open high-value data sets.
  • CharityLogic will help communities paint a more complete picture of opportunity that includes nonprofit resources such as food pantries, job training, and mentoring programs by adding a data export module to its iCarol software. 2-1-1 social service information & referral hotlines for more than a dozen states will then be able to export their social services data into an open, machine-readable format compliant with the Human Services Data Specification that software developers can build upon. “VIA LINK,” the 2-1-1 provider in New Orleans, will export its data for a pilot to build re-entry resources.
Additional Private Sector Commitments 
  • Esri and Socrata will reduce barriers for software developers and data scientists as they build nationwide digital tools on local data, by collaborating on research and development to normalize information models across disparate local government data sets.
  • The Center for Government Excellence, supported by theBloomberg Philanthropies What Works Cities partnership and the21st Century Cities Initiative at Johns Hopkins University, will facilitate collaboration between the Opportunity Project and any of their 25 cities that would like to add their data to the platform and benefit from utilizing the existing data and tools. They are currently working with more than two dozen local governments to build capacity for decision making that is rooted in evidence, transparent accountability, and community engagement.
  • RISE (Research and Innovations in Social, Economic and Environmental Equity) at Boston College School of Social Workwill launch a research study using Opportunity Project data called "The Social Context of Opportunity." Researchers will investigate how race, income, and places affect access to opportunity. This collaborative project will produce scientific and publicly-accessible reports about how opportunities are tied to different social dimensions of people’s lives.
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