LIFE Study adds minority perspective

Thursday, August 10, 2017

LIFE Updates

Contributor: Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, a Fox Cities LIFE Study sponsor with United Way Fox Cities and the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Updates to an in-depth study of the quality of life in the Fox Cities provide a closer look at life here through the eyes of racial and ethnic minorities, poor families, and the LGB community. The results show those groups face added challenges.

Ten new data charts were added to the 2016 Fox Cities LIFE (Leading Indicators for Excellence) Study at to look at such issues as high school graduation by race or ethnicity, bullying and suicidal behavior related to sexual orientation.

These results are included in the update:

  • Third-grade reading proficiency for Hispanic students improved between 2012 and 2015, though a significant gap remains between white students and all other racial and ethnic groups.
  • Academic performance is more directly related to poverty – as measured by eligibility for free and reduced hot lunch – for ethnic and racial minorities than it is for white students.
  • More than 45% of students who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual report having considered suicide versus 13% for heterosexual students. Actual suicide attempts also are significantly higher for these groups.
  • In-school and online bullying of gay, lesbian, or bi-sexual students was nearly double that experienced by their heterosexual classmates.
  • More than one-third of American Indian or Hawaiian or Pacific Islander students reported in-school or online bullying, compared to one-fourth of white and African American students.

The Fox Cities LIFE Study – funded by the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, United Way Fox Cities, and the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce and Industry – has evaluated opportunities and challenges related to the quality of life in the Fox Cities every five years since 2001. The 2016 study presented more than 200 data indicators about demographic, economic, social, and health aspects of community life, and is being updated periodically.

Peter Kelly, president and CEO of United Way Fox Cities, said the additional analysis was included after participants in a data “Dive-In Day” last year said more information on diversity and inclusion would be helpful. They also asked for data on older people in the workforce, which is the subject of another new chart. It finds higher participation rates than the national averages for people ages 16 to 99.

“We especially encourage school and community leaders and parents to take note of the data,” Curt Detjen, Community Foundation president and CEO, said. Information on youth health and safety and student performance is particularly timely as a new school year is about to begin, he said.
Other enhancements to the study’s website include:

  • Web links to all data sources and other local research.
  • Brief summaries of key data and four community priorities for action.
  • The “LIFE in the News” section with links to articles, news releases, blog posts, etc.
  • A site map to improve users’ navigation experience.

“A high quality of life is necessary to Fox Cities businesses in the retention and attraction of talent,” said Bob Mundt, president/CEO of the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “The LIFE Study is a great tool to help us all assess where additional resources are needed.”