Excerpt from op-ed by Fairfield County’s Community Foundation President and CEO Juanita T. James:
"As nonprofit organizations gear up for Giving Tuesday on Nov. 27, we are reminded of the powerful work they do to address the most pressing social needs facing too many individuals across the globe and right here in Fairfield County — hunger, homelessness, denial of access to a quality education, unemployment and underemployment — to name just a few.
Just as we hope to inspire you to be generous not only on Giving Tuesday, but throughout the year, we too have been inspired to take a deeper look at how we can improve lives in the communities we serve. As the result of more than a year of research and community conversations, we have finalized and begun to implement a new strategic plan, which focuses our organization around an ambitious, long-term goal: To close the opportunity gap in Fairfield County."
Why This Matters
- Fairfield County’s income inequality ranks first of the 100 largest U.S. metro areas when comparing incomes of top and bottom earners: in 2014, the richest households (top 5 percent of earners) made $558,970 per year, nearly 18 times the $31,330 that the poorest (bottom 20 percent) earned.
- Fairfield County’s sizable immigrant population (20 percent of county residents) grew 89 percent from 1990 to 2014. In some municipalities, foreign-born residents make up as much as one-third of the population.
- Since 1980, the size of the population living in neighborhoods that are considered most affluent — defined as those with an average family income more than 2.5 times higher than the state level — has tripled within Fairfield County. Meanwhile, the number of people living in poor neighborhoods is 3.5 times its 1980 size. The number of people in middle-income neighborhoods has decreased by 16 percent.
- Despite an improving economy, 32 percent of Connecticut adults were still “just getting by” or struggling to get by financially in 2018 — the same proportion as in 2015. And nearly one in 10 adults didn’t get the health care they needed in 2018, often due to cost-related barriers.
- Source: The Fairfield County Community Wellbeing Index is based on federal and statewide data sources, including data from the DataHaven Community Wellbeing Survey, which interviewed 30,000 randomly selected adults in Connecticut in 2015 and 2018.