Vision & Overview

The Youth Opportunity Dashboard is designed to turn data into systemic change.

By tracking a holistic set of critical youth outcomes across Chicago, this Dashboard unites communities and youth-serving organizations with the data they need to ensure youth are connected to opportunity and prepared for success in school, career and life.

Section 1:

Setting the Stage

Historical context

Prior to the pandemic, the city of Chicago was making significant progress for youth and families, and Chicago Public Schools students were more successful than ever.

In 2014:

Average Achievement, by Grade & Race

Chicago, 2013–14 Eighth grade cohort

Figure 1: Historical attainment rates in Chicago

Source: Reardon, S.F., & Hinze-Pifer, R. (2017). Test Score Growth Among Public School Students in Chicago, 2009–2014

Chicago’s growth rates in reading and math were higher than 96% of all school districts in the U.S.

The average Chicago students’ math and reading assessment scores improved by roughly six grade-level equivalents in five years’ time – 20% more than the national average

This growth was evident across all students, with the learning rates of Black, Latinx, white and Asian students all higher than the national average

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted this progress

Figure 2: Pandemic Impacts disproportionately affected low-income communities

Source: Harvard University; NWEA; AIR; by The New York Times

Average weeks remote in 2020–2021

School closures and remote instructions had deleterious impacts on youth outcomes and well-being, with the most pronounced effects in low income communities due to prolonged closures and remote instruction.

  • Across the city and the country, the impacts on youth outcomes and well-being were most pronounced in low-income communities due to prolonged school closures and more time spent in remote instruction.

Students in low income communities often had unreliable internet access, lack of access to a space conducive to learning, or parents and caregivers who served as essential workers during the pandemic limiting their ability to support remote learning.

Critical youth outcomes across the city have suffered as a result

Figure 3: Chicago 2022 test scores

Chicago 2022 test scores

Chicago’s 2022 recent national test scores show steep declines in math and modest declines in reading, erasing gains made over the past decade.

CPS enrollment decline

With a total of 82,000 students lost by 2022, CPS’ decade-long decline in enrollment was accelerated during the pandemic and resulted in the school district dropping from being the 3rd to the 4th largest in the U.S.

Figure 4: CPS enrollment decline

Figure 5: Chronic Absenteeism Rates

Chronic Absenteeism Rates

Chronic absenteeism has increased significantly, especially for Black and Latinx students

The impact of the pandemic has stretched beyond academics – youth have lost family members and sources of income, and are experiencing adverse social-emotional outcomes including social isolation and disconnection from school at alarming rates

Our View of Youth Opportunity

At the same time, the effective public and philanthropic response to COVID-19 has shown that when we mobilize quickly, the supports needed to ensure all young people have every opportunity to succeed in school, career, and life

To address persistent opportunity gaps that exist for young people of color, the supports we provide must:

Be available cradle-to-career, at every stage of a youth’s development

Consider and proactively address historical policies and systemic racism

Authentically engage communities and incorporate diverse voices

Holistically target academic, social-emotional and career outcomes

Section 2:

Dashboard Overview

What Makes The Youth Opportunity Dashboard Different


Tracks primary outcomes, and the secondary outcomes that influence them, most critical to understanding how well youth are doing

These outcomes:

  • Span the cradle-to-career continuum
  • Reflect current research on key indicators of youth opportunity
  • Are balanced across academic, social-emotional and career goals

Reflects Diverse Perspectives

Incorporates diverse community and institutional perspectives

Captures data on a broad range of youth population subsets, including disengaged, unstably housed, and justice-involved youth

Reduces bias by focusing on outcome trends within each individual community to contextualize how well it is doing, as opposed to comparisons across community areas

Unites Our Work

Provides critical, publicly available data on the determinants of youth opportunity

Arms communities and youth-serving organizations with the evidence they need to:

  • Inform, improve, and scale services and interventions
  • Enhance community collaboration
  • Define and monitor progress in a community’s own outcomes
  • Remain accountable to the communities they serve

Agnostic resource that transcends Chicago’s political environment

How The Youth Opportunity Dashboard is Organized

The Youth Opportunity Dashboard reflects the My Brother’s Keeper’s Equity Framework My Brother’s Keeper’s Equity Framework Launched by President Obama in 2014, My Brother’s Keeper is an initiative to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by young boys of color in particular. Learn More . This framework identifies crucial milestones on the path to adulthood that are predictive of future success and when interventions can have the greatest impact. By focusing on these milestones and removing obstacles that hinder progress, we can provide youth with opportunities to succeed.

  • Tracks 26 outcomes that span youth development
  • Consists of 11 primary outcomes Primary Outcomes Primary outcomes are the most important metrics of youth opportunity – success in these outcomes is our ultimate goal. Learn More and 15 secondary outcomes Secondary Outcomes Secondary outcomes are key inputs and influences on primary outcomes – they must be considered alongside primary outcomes to adequately understand the holistic nature of youth opportunity. Learn More that influence the primary outcomes
  • Displays data across Chicago’s 77 communities
  • All Sourced from publicly available data

Section 3:


Milestone 1

Entering School Ready to Learn

This milestone relates to the early childhood phase of a youth’s life, defined here as under the age of five. This milestone measures the availability and quality of childcare, as well as the level of Kindergarten Readiness we see district-wide.

Early childhood is a time of rapid development in multiple areas of a youth’s life—physical, emotional, cognitive and social growth—so it’s important to ensure that all children have the supports needed for a healthy start to life and to enter school ready to learn and succeed.

Milestone 2

Meeting Benchmarks in Reading and Math

This milestone includes the phase of childhood from kindergarten through 8th grade. It includes key growth and proficiency metrics for reading and math content to ensure we can assess where there are gains to celebrate and opportunities to improve.

All children should be reading at grade level by age 8—the age at which reading to learn becomes essential. Math proficiency, particularly in 8th grade, is also a critical indicator of academic progress before entering high school.

Milestone 3

Graduating from High School Ready for College & Career

This milestone is centered around high school completion and college readiness. This milestone includes indicators that showcase whether freshmen are on track to graduate and whether youth will leave high school with early credentials and concrete plans for training, employment, or further education.

All youth should receive a quality high school education and graduate with the skills and tools needed to advance to postsecondary education or training.

Milestone 4

Completing Postsecondary Education or Training

This milestone measures how often youth are obtaining two- and four-year degrees, and whether they are engaged in post-secondary education or employment.

Everyone should have the option to attend postsecondary education and receive the education and training needed to obtain a livable-wage paying job.

Milestone 5

Successfully Entering the Workforce

Employment rates for youth, aged 16–24, and a snapshot of household income and proximity to jobs at the community level.

Anyone who wants a job should be able to get a job that allows them to support themselves and their families.

Milestone 6

Keeping Youth on Track & Giving Them Second Chances

This milestone includes incidences of violent crime and school disciplinary rates, along with other critical environmental factors that contribute to youths’ ability to thrive.

All should be safe from violent crime; and individuals without supportive environments should receive the education, training, and tools needed for a second chance.


The Youth Opportunity Dashboard is powered by A Better Chicago in partnership with The Obama Foundation and the Chicago Public Education Fund.

Thank you to Crown Family Philanthropies, The Joyce Foundation, and PwC for believing in the power of open data to improve the lives of Chicago’s youth.

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