Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Community Development

Opportunity Data: The Other Half of the Information Equation

Author(s):

December 2011

Community Development Investment Review

The quality of an “impact investment” should be evaluated by data that both frames the need and tells us what happened in response to an investment. Impact data only tells us whether we’ve been successful. Opportunity data is required to inform whether, where, why and how to best target investment in the first place. It is our ability to respond with effective and tested strategies tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of a community that will generate the highest societal impact, and it is data at the beginning of the work that can effectively and efficiently inform such a tailored strategy. While there are increasingly well understood ingredients (e.g., shelter, nutrition, health, education, employment, asset building opportunities) that can be used successfully in alleviating the effects and sources of poverty, they will be most effective if combined and deployed in ways that are uniquely suited to address the specific dynamics that may be at play in a particular community.

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