Thank you to every person who made our 2015 Housing and Schools Symposium a success!

We can’t thank our partners, presenters, attendees, staff, and venue hosts enough! Thank you all for coming together to make our second annual Housing & Schools Symposium a huge success.

We will provide a summary of the whole day, with pictures included, soon. First, however, we wanted to make sure all of the materials were available to you as soon as possible. Below you can find the powerpoint presentations involved in our sessions:

Look forward to more updates from us, and if you haven’t already, fill out our brief survey for attendees (click to visit page)!

Have you registered for our housing & schools symposium (6/19) yet?

Housing Virginia will be holding our second Housing & Schools Symposium in partnership with VCU’s Center for Urban & Regional Analysis on Friday, June 19th at the VCU Student Commons.

Last year, we gathered together the maximum capacity allowed by our venue – 200 people – and we’re on track to do the same this year. You can secure your spot today here at our registration page. Admission is $50 for the public and $20 for individual students & teachers.

Housing & Schools Flyer (front) - 06.2015

We’ve also secured our session lineup. The symposium will open with a few words from Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Steve Staples. Following his keynote address, VCU will present the findings of a two-school case study that examines the connections between school performance and the surrounding neighborhood. An expert panel will weigh in on the results and answer questions from the audience.

In the afternoon, attendees will split up into three breakout sessions, each with its own expert panel and topic of discussion. Participants will again have an opportunity to start a dialogue with any and all panelists. We will close the symposium with a presentation from Shirley Franklin, CEO of Purpose Built Communities and former Atlanta mayor. She will share with us the success of the Purpose Built Communities model of bridging educational opportunity with community revitalization.

See below for a detailed list of panelists and topics:

Housing & Schools Flyer (back) - 06.2015

This year’s symposium will be bigger and better than ever – so make sure you join in while we still have space!

(Register here)


An Atlas of Upward Mobility Shows Paths Out of Poverty

This recent New York Times article outlines a Harvard study- The Equality of Opportunity Project– that uses big data to examine how to improve economic opportunities for low-income children. The Times article explains, “Based on the earnings records of millions of families that moved with children, it finds that poor children who grow up in some cities and towns have sharply better odds of escaping poverty than similar poor children elsewhere.”


The areas deemed “worst” for income mobility of poor children share characteristics such as concentrated areas of poverty and African-American populations. On the other hand, the cities and counties labeled “best” for income mobility all have elementary schools with higher test scores, a higher share of two-parent families, greater levels of involvement in civic and religious groups and more residential integration of affluent, middle-class and poor families.

Across the country, the researchers found five factors associated with strong upward mobility: less segregation by income and race, lower levels of income inequality, better schools, lower rates of violent crime, and a larger share of two-parent households. In general, the effects of place are sharper for boys than for girls, and for lower-income children than for rich.

This study also looks into how children are affected by moving homes when they are younger versus when they become teenagers. Overall, the younger the child at the time of move, the less they experienced a dip in income later in life. For example, younger siblings who moved from a bad area to a better one earned more as adults than their older siblings who were part of the same move.

The article and study also include an interactive map portion that shows local economic opportunity maps. Richmond, VA produced this map:

For incomes of the 25th percentile

For incomes of the 25th percentile

“Location matters – enormously. If you’re poor and live in the Richmond area, it’s better to be in New Kent County than in Richmond City or Petersburg City. Not only that, the younger you are when you move to New Kent, the better you will do on average. Children who move at earlier ages are less likely to become single parents, more likely to go to college and more likely to earn more.

Every year a poor child spends in New Kent County adds about $150 to his or her annual household income at age 26, compared with a childhood spent in the average American county. Over the course of a full childhood, which is up to age 20 for the purposes of this analysis, the difference adds up to about $3,100, or 12 percent, more in average income as a young adult.

…Here are the estimates for how much 20 years of childhood in Richmond City adds or takes away from a child’s income (compared with an average county), along with the national percentile ranking for each.”


Housing Virginia will be holding its second symposium on housing & schools at VCU on June 19th. This year, the discussion will focus heavily on schools in the face of changing demographics. The VCU Center for Urban and Regional Analysis will present the findings of a study looking at two different Richmond area schools to determine links between neighborhood stability and school performance.

Save the date for this groundbreaking symposium – housing and education professionals from around the state will weigh in on this pressing issue.

The real reason why poor kids perform worse in school – and in life

This article originally appeared in the Washington Post on April 28, 2015

By Elizabeth Caucutt, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Western Ontario

Research has shown that children of poorer parents display substantially worse math and reading skills by the time they start grade school. Other studies have revealed that these wide gaps in pre-school skills persist into adulthood and help explain low educational attainment and lifetime earnings.

Put together, these findings paint a bleak picture of how the fates of generations of poor children are largely sealed before they even set foot in a classroom, suggesting the current K-12 school system is ineffective as a springboard for opportunity.

So if we want a society that is meritocratic, we need to answer a fundamental and vexing question: why do less well-off children perform so poorly? Once we get a better sense of the answer, we can begin to understand how to improve mobility from generation to generation and craft appropriate economic and social policies to close the yawning income-related gap in ability.

A rich investment

These income-based achievement gaps are at least partially caused by substantial differences in how much rich and poor parents invest in their children. For example, parents of very young children among the top 25% of earners are more than twice as likely to have at least ten books in the home than those from the bottom quartile. Wealthier mothers are also more than 50% more likely to read to their child three or more times a week.

Graph from the Washington Post (April 2015)

In addition, children aged 6 to 7 from richer families are more than twice as likely to be enrolled in special lessons or extracurricular activities compared with their lower-income counterparts.

Graph from the Washington Post (April 2015)

That leads us to the next question: why do rich and poor parents invest so differently in their children?

Read the rest of the article here.

Poverty debate centers on eastern vs. western Chesterfield

Based on an article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch by John Ramsey on February 14, 2015 

Addressing poverty is at the core of many policy debates in Chesterfield County these days, from development cases

Chesterfield County's magisterial districts - John G. Ownby of the RTD

Chesterfield County’s magisterial districts – John G. Ownby

to course offerings in schools.

But some elected leaders are worried that the conversations too often pit the county’s east side against the west.

More than 200 people attended a poverty forum last month at Thomas Dale High School organized by School Board Chairwoman Carrie Coyner.

Coyner, who represents the Bermuda District on the county’s east side where poverty is most visible along Jefferson Davis Highway, showed a video of the trailer parks there and presented statistics showing that children from low-income families typically perform worse in school than their peers. The first step in addressing the problem, she says, is showing people, who often perceive Chesterfield County as Richmond’s rich neighbor, that poverty there is a real and growing problem.

In addition, Bermuda District Supervisor Dorothy Jaeckle argues that the county’s development rules hinder progress because developers who want to build along Jefferson Davis and those who want to build new subdivisions in Midlothian are charged the same rates. In addition to the lower incomes, families in the Bermuda District deal with heavy traffic and other effects of industry. With access to major highways, rivers and the airport, Bermuda is home to nearly 70 percent of the county’s industrial base.

Other supervisors say they welcome the debate on how the county can revitalize its poorest areas, but they bristle at some of the arguments coming from Bermuda.

“All poverty is not located in Bermuda. It is something we need to address as a county,” said Supervisor Daniel A. Gecker, who represents the county’s wealthiest district, Midlothian, in an interview. “The continual talk of one region versus another, whether it be Bermuda versus Midlothian or east versus west, is not productive to the long-term effort of addressing those issues.”

Read the rest of the article here!

Majority of U.S. Public School Students are in Poverty

Based on an article in the Washington Post (Jan. 16, 2015)

We often hear anecdotes about children whose only substantial meal of the day is their school lunch; more often than not, these children participate in their school’s free and reduced lunch program. A new study by the Southern Education Foundation found that in the 2012-2013 school year, a staggering 51% of Pre-K through 12th grade students in the U.S. were eligible for this program.

It is no secret that poverty detriments childhood development- “They are less likely to have support at home, are less frequently exposed to enriching activities outside of school, and are more likely to drop out and never attend college,” says Lindsay Layton in her Washington Post article.

This interactive map of low-income children in public schools is available at the source article

This interactive map of low-income children in public schools is available at the source article

In Virginia, 39% of public school students are classified as “low-income” and eligible for the free and reduced lunch program. This falls below the national average, but it is still a high number. New Hampshire had the lowest number of low-income students at 27%, while 71% of Mississippi’s public schoolchildren were identified as low-income.

Educators often emphasize the need for smaller class sizes and better equipment, but they are also beginning to push for a broader range of resources to help these children in need. For many, this starts at home: quality affordable housing, an engaged community, after-school neighborhood programs – the opportunity to fill these gaps is everywhere.

250 Chesterfield County residents explored this topic and possible solutions in depth last Thursday at a neighborhood and schools summit lead by School Board Chair Carrie Coyner. Housing Virginia will continue to explore the connection between affordable housing and schools in partnership with VCU at our second Housing & Schools Symposium on June 19th. Stay tuned for more details about how you can join the conversation!

The Connections Between Where Children Live and How They Learn

By Bob Adams, Executive Director of Housing Virginia

**This article originally ran in the Richmond Times-Dispatch opinion section

Sometimes we can miss the obvious. An example is the difficulty we have in clearly understanding the connection between how students perform in class and the housing and neighborhoods where those students live. Last summer, Housing Virginia co-sponsored a statewide forum here in Richmond with the L. Douglas Wilder School at VCU. The title was Housing and Schools: Connecting the Dots Between Where Kids Live and Where They Learn. Connecting those dots leads us to think about how we need to change our neighborhoods — not just our curriculum, testing or teaching methods. That forum brought educators together with housing and community development practitioners — groups that rarely communicate. What we found is that both groups have a lot to say to each other about how we can improve communities and educational performance. In fact, the two go hand in hand. It’s not just about fixing schools, it’s more about fixing neighborhoods.


The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count data book gives a snapshot of the state of the nation’s children

In November, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released the 2014 edition of Kids Count, the annual report card on the health and well-being of children in America. For 25 years, this report has looked at changes in economic well-being, education, health and family/community. The results provide a national snapshot as well as a state-by-state breakdown. First the good news: Virginia compares favorably with other states, ranking in the top 20 percent. Of the 16 measures that are reported, Virginia improved in 10, twice the number where our performance declined. One measure remained unchanged.

Now for the bad news: The percentage of children living in poverty increased. It’s now at 15 percent — that’s 279,000 kids in Virginia. Even more discouraging, the number of children in Virginia living in high poverty areas went up by more than 60 percent, and the number of children living in households with a high housing-cost burden also increased. There are more than 650,000 kids in Virginia living in homes where their parents struggle to pay the rent — that’s more than one in three children in the commonwealth. The problem is especially acute for African-American and Hispanic children. Nationally, half of these children live in homes where housing costs are not affordable. So, we have more children living in poverty and they are increasingly concentrated. For many, housing expenses create family economic insecurity.

Here in Richmond, we have long had concentrations of poverty within the city that reflect the historical record of residential segregation brought about by discrimination in housing, lending and insurance. Those patterns persist and have proven to be extremely challenging to overcome. What’s different in the past decade is that new areas of concentrated poverty are beginning to develop in the counties surrounding Richmond. The “suburbanization” of poverty is a national trend that we are also experiencing here in our metro area as the older, “first ring” suburbs are increasingly occupied by families with lower incomes. This is frequently accompanied by deteriorating housing quality, overcrowding and a decline in homeownership. Once-vibrant shopping areas are replaced with under-utilized commercial strips that provide too many “payday lenders” and too few grocery stores that offer fresh produce and nutritious food.

Now … connecting the dots. It’s not surprising that the schools that have the greatest challenges with high student performance are also those that draw their students predominately from communities where poverty and housing affordability challenges are concentrated. High-performing schools more typically draw from higher-income, middle-class neighborhoods.

This trend, left alone, will continue to get worse … not better. While the broad economic news is getting better, the lowest-income households haven’t been able to share in the benefits of a recovering housing or stock market. Without new strategies for how we deconcentrate poverty and create neighborhoods with opportunity for all of the households in our region, we should expect to get the same results — below average school performance in neighborhoods where economic challenges are severe. Of course, the Richmond region is not unique. These same trends are happening in metropolitan areas around the nation.

The good news is that solutions are being found. Communities with political will and vision are testing new ways to level the playing field for students by changing the makeup of neighborhoods. Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin’s nonprofit, Purpose Built Communities, is just one of many programs working to achieve greater diversity and opportunity in neighborhoods.

Most critically, we need to stop adding to the problem. New affordable housing needs to be provided in communities where it currently doesn’t exist — not just in areas where it’s already located. Conversely, we need to improve housing and community amenities in areas with concentrations of lower-income households to make them attractive for mixed-income development. As we revitalize older, affordable communities we need to reduce density and improve quality. Housing improvements need to be matched with infrastructure upgrades that enhance the quality of life. Chesterfield County’s recent decision to focus its community development spending in neighborhoods where school renovations are occurring is a smart example of coordinating efforts to amplify impact.


None of this is easy, but there are few issues of greater importance for our region than improving educational outcomes for all of our students. An open community forum was held Jan. 22 at Thomas Dale High School. The session focused on how we can strengthen our public schools by building neighborhoods that are diverse, vibrant and economically integrated.

Housing Virginia will also host a housing & schools symposium on June 19, 2015. Keep an eye out for more details as they come.

Diverse Neighborhoods, Stronger Schools

By Laura Lafayette, CEO of the Richmond Association of REALTORS®

**This article originally ran in the Richmond Times-Dispatch opinion section

Richmond City's high school zones

Richmond City’s high school zones

I have a mantra: “People don’t buy a house until they’ve first bought into a community’s quality of life.” That’s a fairly apt saying, given that I work for 4,000 Realtors. Implicit in the mantra is the notion that metropolitan Richmond must pursue excellence in our quality of life, or we’ll lose out to regional competitors. Easier said than done … and “excellence” is in the eye of the beholder.

So here’s my vision: To achieve excellence, we must create communities of opportunity. A community of opportunity

Chesterfield County's high school zones

Chesterfield County’s high school zones

boasts a variety of attractive, affordable housing. The children in these neighborhoods attend exceptional schools; and their parents hold good jobs with viable wages in proximity to their homes. Housing and jobs are connected by a transportation system that meets the

The good news is that thousands of Richmonders — through their vocations, avocations and volunteer efforts — strive to make our region a community in which all have equal opportunities. But despite progress, significant challenges remain; left unmet, these challenges will become ever more complex, ingrained and costly. One of our most daunting challenges is economic segregation. Make no mistake: This dynamic is not limited to the city. Economic segregation is well documented in Henrico and Chesterfield, and it exists in the less densely populated counties.

The negative consequences of this segregation are highly visible in our public schools. According to the Brookings Institution, the average Richmond area student from a middle- or high-income household attends a school that ranks 21 percentage points higher on state exams than a school attended by a child from a low-income household. According to Brookings, to create economically integrated schools, 44 percent of the low-income students in metropolitan Richmond would have to move into other ZIP codes in order to achieve an equal distribution across all school zones. If we truly believe that education represents one of the best pathways to opportunity, then we have a serious problem on our hands.

To solve this problem, we must either move children around or change the neighborhoods that feed into our schools. Of course, “move children around” is a polite phrase for busing. As a parent who could walk her elementary children to school and is now comforted by the fact that her teen driver has only a 2-mile commute to school, I have no interest in busing — not for my children or any others. Economically integrated neighborhoods make much more sense.

Here are some strategies for creating more economically diverse neighborhoods:

One, make the revitalization of our older neighborhoods a public policy priority — and put some money behind it. Much of our region’s affordable housing is located in older neighborhoods on the brink of becoming blighted. Intervention strategies such as strict code enforcement and much-needed infrastructure improvements come with a significant price tag — but that pales in comparison to the millions it costs to bring neighborhoods back from blight.

Two, create financial incentives for the private sector to reinvest in these neighborhoods, both in terms of housing and along commercial corridors. Expansion of enterprise zones, partial tax abatements on improved properties and wavier of permitting fees are just a few examples of incentives.

Three, we need greater creativity and flexibility within our zoning codes. Mixed-used developments easily lend themselves to a variety of housing types at various price points. We need to build more mixed-use, mixed-income communities. Let’s allow for auxiliary dwelling units — smaller units (often used for related family members) built on the same lot as a primary residence. We might even come around on the notion that density done right is not a detriment but an asset to a vibrant region such as ours.

The fact is that officials in Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico and the city of Richmond are and have been focused on many of these strategies. I applaud them. But I often feel as if they’re undertaking these efforts with trepidation, fearing the indifference of many and the noisy opposition of a few. That’s too bad, because they need our support. And we need to recognize that wherever we live in metropolitan Richmond, investing in these strategies inures to the benefit of us all.


Creating more economically integrated neighborhoods and thus strengthening our public schools will be the topic of a community forum on Jan. 22 at Thomas Dale High School from 6:15–8:30 p.m. I invite you to join us.

Poverty and Education in Chesterfield

By Carrie Coyner, Chesterfield County School Board Chair

**This piece originally ran in the Richmond Times-Dispatch opinion section on November 23, 2014

Picture1As I sat in my son’s kindergarten orientation to meet his teacher, I became flustered with the commotion around me. Here I sat, ready as a new parent to take in all of the teacher’s wisdom for this new journey, and I found myself unable to hear her. I was surrounded by parents, grandparents, aunts and siblings of my son’s classmates. Older siblings translated every word the teacher spoke, and my irritation grew as I couldn’t hear the teacher.

As I left the room, I turned back and looked around the classroom, and a flood of shame washed over me. I was so annoyed by the talking that I didn’t stop to notice that every child in my son’s class had parents who cared so much about his/her education that they all came to orientation. My son would be in a class with children whose parents wanted the best for their child, too. I smiled and walked out of the building — glancing up at the heavens, thanking God for such a place.

My children attend a Title I school with 42 percent of students receiving free/reduced lunch and about equal thirds of the school made up of white, black and Latino students. It’s a rainbow of ethnicities, socioeconomic levels, familial status and gender. I wish our school looked like this because we all live in one community together, but sadly, we do not. The busing of children from some of the poorest areas in our district to a school nestled in a middle-class neighborhood has eliminated the socioeconomic segregation that is truly what our community looks like.

Poverty is rapidly increasing in eastern Chesterfield as wealth is rising in western Chesterfield. The socioeconomic divide is growing, and our county’s policies are contributing to this divide. Our county should be having a fruitful debate about growth policies, affordable housing, how to achieve mixed socioeconomic communities, quality of housing, equitable educational opportunities and revitalization. We don’t have this debate because it’s not what you talk about at the dinner table in a “First Choice” community.

Poverty is hidden in Chesterfield. You can travel this vast land and never run across the mobile home divided into fourths with five families living under one roof. You can play soccer in the parks and never drive past the prostitute who has fallen asleep in the safest place she can find. You can eat in restaurants and never see the line of people walking along the side of a dangerous road to be fed a meal from the little Baptist church.

This divide impacts all of us: rich, poor and in between, and especially our children. Children living in poverty represent the largest group of students failing the Standards of Learning in Chesterfield. A child in poverty faces an increased risk of drug abuse, incarceration, teen pregnancy, dropping out of school and mental illness. A child in poverty is more likely to live in poverty as an adult and to have children born into poverty. It is a statistic working against every child in poverty, but we can change it and make our entire community a better place.

A low-socioeconomic student in a classroom with higher-socioeconomic students performs better than his counterparts in high-poverty schools. A low-socioeconomic student living in a community with housing and income diversity is more likely to succeed in school than her counterpart in a high-poverty segregated community. Poverty naturally decreases when we have a mix of socioeconomic levels living in proximity to the things that follow higher income levels; higher-wage jobs, quality groceries, health care, public amenities, etc., are available to everyone, and those in poverty now have the opportunity to move out of poverty based on resources around them.

We hide poverty very well in Chesterfield. There are some things we just don’t talk about. Ignorance is bliss. Poverty grows exponentially when we do nothing.

We have an opportunity to work together as a community to improve educational outcomes for all children, to improve our property values, to have lower-cost public facilities, to live together in that beautiful rainbow that is my son’s school. The first step is to sit at the table together and talk about it. I invite you to the table for a discussion Jan. 22 at Thomas Dale High School from 6:15 to 8:30 p.m. There will be a data presentation to show what is happening in Chesterfield with wealth, education, jobs and other opportunities; a discussion on why this data should matter to everyone in Chesterfield, not just those living in lower socioeconomic and aging communities; intervention strategies that are working in small parts of Chesterfield and other places; and finally, small-group discussions to discuss how we work together for positive outcomes in all of our communities.

Mapping Opportunity: Educational Opportunities and Residential Location

Heather Mullins Crislip, President and CEO, Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia

Brian Koziol, Research Director, Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia


This post is adapted from Where You Live Makes All The Difference: Opportunity Mapping in the Richmond Region a report by Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia (HOME), which can be found in full at


Housing and education are inextricably linked. Quality schools have a strong influence on housing values.  Therefore, higher performing school districts are often unaffordable for low-to-moderate income households.[i]


Moreover, access to a quality education is an essential ingredient to ensure future opportunity.  Receiving a quality education increases the ability of an individual to secure adequate employment and stay financially stable enough to generate intergenerational wealth.


Educational Opportunities and Residential Location


As one study found, children from public housing living and attending schools in a middle class neighborhood, showed measurable improvement in academic performance over children with similar characteristics living and attending schools in a low-income neighborhood.[ii]  Additionally, the Center for Housing Policy, the research arm of the National Housing Conference, contends that adequate and affordable housing significantly influences a student’s educational performance.[iii]  If higher achievement in school has a positive impact on opportunity, securing affordable housing in high opportunity areas is imperative.


Access to quality schools typically equates to living in stable neighborhoods that benefit from higher-than-average median household income and have high levels of homeownership.  Private education aside, the neighborhood in which a family resides largely determines the quality of education their children will receive.  Additional educational opportunities such as Advanced Placement courses, after-school programs and a safe school environment depend on the tax base of the residential area. This is directly influenced by concentrations of wealth and poverty in the community.


HOME replicated a methodology on mapping opportunity developed by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University to map the educational opportunity of the Richmond Region.  The following indicators were used to define educational opportunity:

  • Percent Population 25 years and over with at least an Associate’s Degree This indicator demonstrates the level of education of those within each census tract. When students are surrounded by others with higher educational attainment, it is likely that they are able to get assistance in their studies. 2005 to 2009 American Community Survey 5 Year Estimates, U.S. Census Bureau
  • Percent of students enrolled in AP courses The percentage of students enrolled in advanced programs is a key indicator of school quality at the secondary level. Students who take Advanced Placement courses can often count those credits toward college coursework. 2008-2009 Va. Dept of Education
  • Percent Planning to attend Two-Year or Four-Year College This indicator represents the percent of students who plan to attend a two year or four year college after graduating from high school. 2006-2007 Va. Dept of Education
  • English and Math performance score (percent passing) Schools, school divisions, and states are rated according to the progress toward the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). This federal law requires states to set annual benchmarks for achievement in reading and mathematics leading to 100 percent proficiency by 2014. 2008-2009 Va. Dept of Education.
  • NCLB Graduation Indicator No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires schools to make progress in graduation for high schools. The graduation rate is based on the percentage of students achieving a regular high school diploma. 2007-2008 Va. Dept of Education
  • Weapon incidents per 100 students Virginia’s accreditation standards require school report cards to include information about school safety. This indicator is used to demonstrate the number of weapon incidents per 100 students to indicate the level of student safety within each school. 2008-2009 Va. Dept of Education
  • Dropout Rate Dropout percentages represent the number of dropouts for a given school year divided by the membership on September 30 of that school year. 2007-2008 Va. Dept of Education



These indicators were then weighted equally, and applied to the City of Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield Counties to map the levels of educational opportunity into categories of very low, low, moderate, high, and very high opportunity.  The map below is the result:



Educational Opportunity Map of the Richmond Region


The disparities in opportunity are evident when it comes to education in the Richmond area. All high opportunity areas are located in western portions of the city of Richmond, Chesterfield County, and Henrico County, and nearly all of Hanover County. The lowest opportunity areas are in the eastern, northeast, and southeast portions of the city of Richmond. Comparing two elementary schools in different opportunity areas of the region shows the direct impact that housing location has upon children’s educational experience. To zero in on how disparities in educational opportunity can manifest in a single municipality, we highlighted Chimborazo and Mary Munford elementary schools, both in the City of Richmond. The Mary Mumford district contains all very high or high opportunity census tracts while the Chimborazo district contains only very low opportunity tracts.


The Virginia Assessment Program Standards of Learning (SOL) test results reveal stark contrasts between the two schools. Third grade studentsPicture2 at Chimborazo Elementary are 2.25 times more likely to fail the reading assessment test, 18 times more likely to fail the math assessment test, 2.2 times more likely to fail the science assessment test, and 1.7 times more likely to fail the history assessment test than third grade students at Mary Mumford.


What is most startling, however, is the disparity between students who test at the advanced level of the reading assessment test. At Mary Mumford, 50 percent of third graders tested at the advanced level in the reading assessment compared to just 19 percent at Chimborazo.

Disparities were even higher among the other test categories: 61 percent of third graders at Mary Mumford tested at the advanced level in the math assessment compared to just 13 percent at Chimborazo; 54 percent in science compared to 14 percent; and 53 percent compared to 7 percent in the history assessment.


The fact that Mary Mumford has one of the highest percentages of out‐of‐district student attendance in the city further highlights the disparity in educational outcomes for families with the means to drive their children to a better school compared to those without that ability. It is clear that there exists great disparity in the educational outcomes of children based solely upon where they live. Simply put, this fact is neither just nor sustainable. Depriving children of an education based solely upon where they happen to live is short‐sighted public policy that can exclude children from society’s wealth cycle. Removing barriers to housing choice while simultaneously increasing the availability of affordable housing in high‐opportunity neighborhoods is the only strategy to ensure that all children of the region receive the type of quality education that will not only allow them to succeed in a dynamic economy, but arm the Richmond region with the skilled and educated workforce to compete economically in the years to come.


[i] McKoy, Deborah, and Jeffrey Vincent. “Housing and Education: The Inextricable Link.” In Segregration: The Rising Costs for America, by James Carr and Nandinee Kutty, 125 – 150. New York: Routledge, 2008.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Lubell, Jeffrey, and Maya Brennan. The Positive Impact of Affordable Housing on Education: A Research Summary. Research Summary, Washington, D.C.: Enterprise Community Partners & Center for Housing Policy, 2007.