What would happen to income levels in Santa Barbara County if everyone completed their high school diploma/GED? Thanks to the new Common Good Forecaster developed by United Way and Measure of America, we now have the ability to find out — not only in Santa Barbara, but across California and the entire country.

Common Good Forecaster

As the name implies, the Common Good Forecaster attempts to measure predictive well-being in health, education and financial stability, the core areas of United Way’s community impact work. Here, users can imagine the effect of improved education rates and see local and statewide impacts on life expectancy at birth, crime rates, unemployment and other key social variables. Other new features of the Common Good Forecaster include enabled location services (which will direct you to your local county immediately), updated human development data, improved geographic features and mobile responsiveness which will allow users to navigate the tool more easily on mobile devices. 

More importantly, the Common Good Forecaster can help social service providers, civic leaders and foundations with important community impact decisions. By allowing users to test out different future scenarios, we can teach others about the value of education and its potential impact on the well-being of a community such as healthier birthweights for infants, reduced obesity rates, improved civic engagement and safer playgrounds. The Common Good Forecaster could particularly motivate a teenager jaded with school to see the connection between their financial well-being with an additional year of school, or the see the benefits of completing an undergraduate degree. Such information can help us realize our full human potential and help community service providers in allocating resources to people who need it at a very critical point in their lives.

The Common Good Forecaster is an excellent complement to A Portrait of California 2014-15, the most recent California human development report, and Struggling to Get By: The Real Cost Measure in California 2015, our latest financial stability report. All of these tools help United Ways use common measurements to measure well-being in their community and provide the demographic data they need to better serve their communities.

Click here to explore the new Common Good Forecaster. Feel free to select any county or state and select “change scenario” to see how an improvement in educational levels can help improve well-being for all.