Lincoln Vital Signs 2017
Lincoln Vital Signs 2017 (lincolnvitalsigns.org), commissioned by some of Lincoln’s largest public and private charitable organizations, describes how Lincoln has changed over the past 10 years and in comparison to other communities across the United States. This year, the report finds:

1. Lincoln is experiencing positive economic recovery. Lincoln was impacted by the national recession, but like other parts of the country, Lincoln is rebounding with:
  • Even lower unemployment
  • Fewer neighborhoods in extreme poverty (i.e., more than 40% of persons living below the poverty threshold)
  • Recovering income earned by the average worker
  • Re-attaining pre-recession average hours that employees worked
  • Fewer children living in poverty
  • Even lower crime rates
  • Booming construction of commercial space
  • High workforce participation
2. Opportunity gaps persist. Despite Lincoln’s recovery, there are vexing disparities:
  • Number of persons working fulltime and in poverty has doubled
  • Over 15% of Lincoln residents live in poverty
  • Persons from racial and ethnic minority groups have higher rates of poverty and unemployment
  • Nearly half of Lincoln Public School students participate in Free and Reduced Lunch
  • Lincoln Public School students in poverty and from racial and ethnic minority groups have lower educational achievement
  • Persons with lower educational attainment are more likely to live in poverty
  • Across Lincoln there is as much as a 20 year gap in life expectancy
Past Vital Signs Reports
The success of Lincoln Vital Signs first report (2014) led to the publication of Lincoln Vital Signs 2015, the Behavioral Health supplement in 2016, and now Lincoln Vital Signs 2017. Lincoln Vital Signs 2014 and 2015 highlighted three findings: Lincoln does many things exceptionally well and these successes should be nurtured. A growing proportion of Lincoln's population faces real need. Lincoln's children fare poorly on many measures. The findings of these reports were shared with the community through presentations; print, television, radio, and web coverage; information shared through the Lincoln Vital Signs website (lincolnvitalsigns.org); and email updates. The impact of the reports has been impressive. Funders are using to make investments in community services; community services organizations are using for strategic planning, needs assessments, and grant proposals; faith community leaders are using to plan ministries and conferences; business leaders are using to promote Lincoln on their travels and to create business plans; neighborhoods are using to target activities; and performing artists were inspired to create a musical focusing on childhood hunger.

Prosper Lincoln
As the community became aware of these findings, there grew an interest to continue to support Lincoln’s strengths and to address areas of challenge. This interest grew into the community-wide agenda-setting process called Prosper Lincoln (prosperlincoln.org). The process involved numerous committees, teams, work groups, and the participation of thousands of persons to identify three key areas of focus through 2020:

  • Early Childhood
  • Employment Skills
  • Innovation

Just as individuals and organizations have used Lincoln Vital Signs in a wide variety of ways, the community is embracing the Prosper Lincoln agenda, such as through new collaborations in the faith community, joint planning and implementation among neighborhoods and schools, businesses conceptualizing new ways to support their working families, collaboration between university computer science programs and Lincoln companies that need workers, new linkages between human service agencies and businesses, and in many more ways.

Lincoln Vital Signs and Prosper Lincoln
Lincoln Vital Signs reports continue to be the Be Informed foundation, and Prosper Lincoln encourages the community to Get Involved.

Lincoln Vital Signs is a collaborative project of numerous organizations and leadership, including:

These organizations have contributed leadership time, data, and financial support to ensure the full funding of this effort. The information and process supported by Lincoln Vital Signs will help recognize and nurture its assets and create understanding and action around its challenges.

This study relies heavily on the vision and expertise of many individuals and organizations. We gratefully acknowledge the support and expertise of the Funders and Advisory Council members. This report would not have been possible without the generous contributions of data and expertise from additional individuals and organizations. The authors maintain full responsibility for any errors in data or representation.

Special thanks to:

Barbara Bartle, Lincoln Community Foundation
Lauri Cimino, Nebraska Department of Education – Step Up to Quality
Iheoma Iruka, Buffet Early Childhood Institute
Jennifer Klein, University of Nebraska Public Policy Center
Clair Lindquist, Lincoln Police Department
Kevin Nelms, Lincoln Public Schools Foundation
Sarah Peetz, Lincoln Community Foundation
Erin Rourke, Region V Systems
Lori Seibel, Community Health Endowment
Wendy Van, Lincoln Public Schools Foundation
Teresa Wanser, Lincoln Public Schools
Marcia White, Community Health Endowment
Vanessa Zobeck, University of Nebraska Public Policy Center


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