Danvers, MA – Every day, we are surrounded by reminders of the ways in which Essex County shines, and where we struggle. We are blessed with the abundance of green space ablaze in autumn color, the history alive in our rich architecture and seacoast. But there’s also another side: the families who gather groceries at their local food pantries, the loved ones whose names have been added to the list of the 400 people who die each year of drug overdoses in our communities. We all have these stories to tell.
But when those stories are backed by data, they have power. They can unite and mobilize. They can drive people to strengthen what works and fix what doesn’t.
One year ago, Essex County Community Foundation embarked on the first phase of Impact Essex County, a community leadership project that aims to improve the quality of life for all Essex County residents. On Oct. 28, at a free event featuring Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, who will welcome guests and introduce the project, ECCF will unveil a new data website that will tell the story of Essex County. Interactive and fun-to-use, the Impact Essex County website is the result of months of comprehensive research, and the data will drive ECCF’s countywide needs assessment and the subsequent work to address the most critical issues in the 34 cities and towns of Essex County.
“We envision this website to be a hub for collective impact, and it is our gift to the community,” said ECCF President and CEO Dave Edwards. “Legislators, business owners, philanthropists, journalists, residents and nonprofits – everyone will be able to come to this site and find what they need to help us all plan and collaborate for a strong future for Essex County.”
The site includes information on 100 indicators tracking the quality of life in our communities, from Lynn to Lawrence to Salisbury and everywhere in between. At the Oct. 28 event, guests will learn how to use the website – which contains information on health, education and children and youth, among other topics – and hear about ECCF’s plans to use the data to help move the needle on Essex County’s biggest challenges.
“We are beyond thrilled to launch this website and share all of this critical data we have collected about Essex County,” said ECCF Board Chair Jon Payson. “But now the hard work really begins. Our hope is that Impact Essex County will unite and empower us all to work towards making a real difference in our communities.”
The Good and the Bad: What the Data Tells us About Essex County
Just like there are two sides to every story, the data uncovered by ECCF’s Impact Essex County tells a tale of two counties. Below is just a sampling of what you will learn from our new data website.
Since 2007, Essex County homelessness has more than doubled from 12 to 26 per 10,000 residents.
Twenty-two percent of land in Essex County is protected.
The rate of drug overdoses in 2012-2014 in Essex County was substantially higher than state and national averages, and increased 28 percent over the rate in 2006-2009.
According to the most recent data, 62 percent of adults (2012) and 32 percent of children (2014) in Essex County are considered overweight or obese.
In 2015, 56 percent of third graders were proficient in reading; but only 34 percent in Lawrence and 39 percent in Lynn.
Since 2000, the overall mortality rate in Essex County has decreased by 18 percent.
From 2010-2014, in Essex County, 43 percent of Hispanic households and 30 percent of African Americans received SNAP benefits (formerly food stamps), compared to 10 percent of white residents. Overall, the number of Essex County residents receiving federal food assistance increased from 4 percent in 2000 to 15 percent in 2013.
- The median household income for Essex County households in 2014 was $68,000, down from $73,400 in 2000. However, the average median income for households with children headed by a single female was $28,000.
To learn more about ECCF’s Impact Essex County and the Oct. 28 website launch event, please visit ECCF online at www.eccf.org/launch.