I’m bullish on Delaware’s future.
There’s an excitement in the air – with new folks joining the state’s political leadership, new leaders at a number of organizations, and great challenges that demand focused attention. True, the challenges are significant, but that merely means the opportunities are significant, too.
Delaware is a state with much prosperity. The newly updated data in the DCF’s 2016 Delaware Focus Report is clear on that point. The state’s economy is generally positive, housing prices are good, environmental quality is strong, our cultural community is robust.
And yet, disparity in the state remains a significant challenge. Too many families, neighborhoods and communities are struggling with employment and housing. Too many people struggle to make ends meet.
The 2016 Delaware Focus Report – released in late November – tells a compelling story of overall prosperity and underlying poverty.
We should all be pleased that the state’s median household income of $60,000 is higher than the nation’s, and poverty is at 12 percent here — significantly lower than the national average. It’s a good thing that the number of jobs is growing in multiple industries, and we can celebrate the growing diversity of our population. These things are important.
It’s also important for those of us enjoying this prosperity to remain mindful of those who are not. While some industries are growing, others are declining and eliminating jobs. While poverty is low overall, it is concentrated in geographic pockets in each county, and particularly pervasive among minority communities and children.
This is our story in Delaware. Some might say it’s a tale of two states. From my perspective that’s exactly the wrong way to look at it. Because Delaware is one state. Some things are going great. Some are not. Our opportunity is to make sure the things that are going well keep going well, and that we simultaneously address the things that need attention.
That means we continue to support our arts and culture programs, and our generally good environmental picture. It also means we need to find good solutions for the unemployment, poverty and crime that is seemingly endemic in some areas.
And speaking of expanded leadership, we’ve expanded our DCF team to address these opportunities. Our Community Engagement team will be led by Rick Deadwyler. When he joins us on January 3, Rick will help us think about how to address these challenges of disparity and lack of opportunity, and to identify ways to combine the resources of the DCF and our fundholders with those of other foundations, nonprofits, and businesses, so we can work together as a community to keep Delaware great, and make it better.
As always, thanks for being part of this work to make Delaware a place where everyone can enjoy prosperity and opportunity. Happy holidays, and happy new year to all. On to 2017!