New Fairbanks Foundation ‘Community Data Snapshot’ Highlights Regional Inequities

By Pria Mahadevan

This article was originally published on the WFYI Indianapolis website.

The Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation released a new “Community Data Snapshot” highlighting key trends in education, health, and economic well-being for Indiana and Marion County.

Most of the data stretches back more than a decade, and covers everything from statewide smoking rates — down from one in four to one in five adults — to rent-burdened households in Marion County — which has hovered around 50 percent.

But Fairbanks Foundation President and CEO Claire Fiddian-Green says, breaking out those trends along racial and ethnic lines shows how systemic inequities persist.

“There are really alarming racial disparities across almost every data indicator in the snapshot,” Fiddian-Green said. “It really jumps out at you when you look at almost any indicator.”

For example, the data indicate achievement gaps among Marion County students. White 8th graders in Marion County who took the ILEARN exam in the 2018-2019 school year were more than twice as likely to pass compared to Black students. At the same time, while Marion County on-time graduation rates are down overall, the gap between white and Black students who graduate has narrowed in the last decade.

Fiddian-Green says the foundation hopes easy access to this data will help community leaders better identify systemic barriers.

“Hopefully we can then develop more sustainable solutions that can help make Indianapolis a place where every person can thrive,” she said.

The foundation plans to update the Community Data Snapshot annually.

WFYI receives support from The Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation. WFYI is solely responsible for all content.