News from Insight Region®

The Community Foundation’s Center for Research

February 12, 2024
The General Social Survey, a project of NORC at the University of Chicago, has measured Americans’ feelings on social fairness, helpfulness, and trust since 1972. The numbers are stark: belief that people can be trusted has fallen by nearly half. In 1984, Forty-eight of every 100 Americans would say that most people can be trusted; in 2022, that number was 25 of every 100.

Similar trends can be seen in the Virginia Trust Index, developed by the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College. Since 2017, it shows that trust in Virginia peaked between February 2020 and May 2021, began to decline through the summer of 2021, and fell to an all-time low in May 2023.

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December 6, 2023
Today, the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia welcomes Denise Bellows, PhD as the new Senior Director of Insight Region®, its Center for Community Research.

Trained in community-based participatory research at the University of Maryland, School of Public Health, Denise has spent 17 years providing research and program evaluation support to clients in the federal sector (e.g., federal agencies under the Department of Health and Human Services and the supplemental nutrition programs under the Food and Nutrition Services (FNS)), the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), and academic/medical programs such as the Teen and Tot Clinic at Boston Medical Center and the University of Maryland Prevention Research Center.

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October 16, 2023
In 2019, worker mental health represented a salient but relatively uncommon issue for Northern Virginia employers: approximately 11 percent of working adults were experiencing mild anxiety or depression, and 7 percent fell into a clinical range.

During the pandemic, these rates spiked, and have remained high. As of May 2023, 58% of Northern Virginia's workforce was experiencing some level of anxiety or depression, and a quarter were in the clinical range— requiring any degree of treatment or intervention. This research estimates that since 2020, Northern Virginia has lost $8 billion each year in unrealized economic output due to the impaired mental health of its workforce: a quadrupling of losses seen prior to the pandemic. We now know that the Commonwealth of Virginia lost $22 billion in potential gross state product in 2022.

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September 18, 2023

The 2023 Champions for Accountability Badge, awarded in partnership between the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia and the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, recognizes more than 40 employers willing to collect, share, and act on data about the diversity of their leadership. To receive the badge, an organization must operate in Virginia, Maryland, and/ or Washington DC; collect demographic data on board members and/or c-suite members and executives; and have completed the application by 31 August, 2023. By accepting their badges, the Champions commit to the following action:  

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August 28, 2023
On August 29, 2023 The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia’s Insight Region® Center for Community Research released Getting By: How Northern Virginians Respond When There is Less to Go Around. In 2021, one in five families (20 percent) in Northern Virginia did not earn enough money to meet their basic needs for shelter, food, medical care, and other essentials. An additional nine percent could not cover these basic needs, and pay for childcare. The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia published this report which includes perspectives from real Northern Virginians collated by InsideNOVA and Northern Virginia Family Services.

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March 22, 2023

Research and Investments to support those 65 and older


Northern Virginia is home to more than 310,000 adults over 65, of which 82 percent are living in a condo or house that they own. These aging homeowners have high rates of disability (28 percent) and poverty (13 percent are living below 200 percent of federal poverty).  Source: American Community Survey, 2015-19; Insight Region® 2023 Growing Old Together in Northern Virginia Report

To address the needs of our aging population, the Community Foundation has produced data-driven reports, developed a permanent endowment, and makes grants annually to support non-profit partners working to support our neighbors 65 and older each year - having awarded $225,000 since 2011 in this field.

Connect with all of our Aging Resources below.

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January 31, 2023
On February 1 2023, The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia’s Insight Region® Center for Community Research released the Shape of Youth Mental Health report with a presentation and discussion at George Mason University. The report discusses the mental health needs of Northern Virginia's youth, which have only increased since the onset of the pandemic in 2020. 

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March 15, 2022

Finding Our Way Back to Mental Health

The Need for Accessible, Affordable Treatment in the Midst of Collective Trauma

SOTR cover for impact story In 2019, about 8 percent of the population was dealing with “active symptoms” of anxiety or depression. Now, that figure is 28%, a fourfold increase impacting over a half million adults in Northern Viginia. This doesn’t include some 200,000 adults whose anxiety and depression levels are transient, but have received, or sought to receive medication or talk therapy in the previous four weeks. In total, whilst 750,000 adults in Northern Virginia have mental health needs, 370,000 who want therapy or counselling are unable to get it.

This report investigates four systemic barriers to people getting the care they need, offering recommendations on how Northern Virginia can work to support this large group of people by addressing systemic barriers to treatment, and what the roles the nonprofit sector, from foundations to community programs and others, can play.
 DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT

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October 28, 2021

Report Examines Northern Virginia’s Disparities in Preschool Enrollment


Northern Virginia's children at or near poverty have the second lowest rate of preschool enrollment in the country; just 29 percent of three-and four-year-olds in this income bracket are in school, compared with 41 percent nationally. It also has the largest gap in enrollment rates between these children and their counterparts in higher-income families.

On October 28th, the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia's Insight Region® released a new brief that explores these disparities in preschool enrollment and disentangles how access, cost, and consumer preferences play into our findings: Ready for Kindergarten, Ready for Life: The causes and consequences of Northern Virginia's preschool enrollment disparity: The causes and consequences of Northern Virginia's preschool enrollment disparity.

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October 27, 2021

Inclusive Prosperity means that every child is prepared for success  

by Elizabeth Hughes, Senior Director of Insight RegionTM

This past spring, Insight Region issued a seminal report on economic mobility in Northern Virginia—specifically, the odds that a child born in poverty will achieve wealth as an adult. As it turns out, Northern Virginia is one of the best places in the country to raise a child; an astounding 19 percent of our kids who grew up poor made it to the top as adults, the highest rate of any metro area. Our report identified several neighborhood “opportunity factors” that contribute to this outcome, with one of the strongest being early academic achievement. The connection is so obvious and well-documented by the research literature that I think it should be considered fact: early academic success tends to beget later financial success.

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October 26, 2021

Ready for Kindergarten, Ready for Life: The causes and consequences of Northern Virginia's preschool enrollment disparity

InsightRegion IPS3 cover MedRes copyNorthern Virginia's children at or near poverty have the second lowest rate of preschool enrollment in the country; just 29 percent of three-and four-year-olds in this income bracket are in school. It also has the largest gap in enrollment rates between these children and their counterparts in higher-income families.

High-quality preschool has the potential to narrow long-standing racial and economic opportunity gaps, provide crucial relief to Northern Virginia's working parents, and produce stunning long-term returns on investment. While all children benefit from the experience, children from families with limited economic means stand to benefit the most.

This brief explores how location, cost, and demand explain the region's low rate of preschool enrollment among its most financially vulnerable children and concludes with a series of recommendations. 
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June 14, 2021

Exploring the broader context of Northern Virginia's exceptional rates of economic mobility

by Elizabeth Hughes, Senior Director of Insight RegionTM

In May 2021, Insight Region released its second brief in the Inclusive Prosperity series, Spreading the Wealth, which found that 19 percent of lower-income children who grew up in the region in the 1980’s and 1990’s were earning in the top quintile for household income as adults, the highest rate of economic mobility across the 50 most populous metro areas in the US. The region also produced the highest rates for Black children (10 percent) and Hispanic children (15 percent) in lower-income families. Compared to the broader DC metro area of which Northern Virginia is a part, these rates were also substantially higher—overall, 11 percent of children raised in poorer families in the DC metro area attained wealth as adults, dropping down to the 15th highest rate among metros; 6 percent of Black children (4th highest) and 13 percent of Hispanic children (2nd highest) raised in poorer families made it to the top quintile.

Our May 2021 brief went on to estimate the current level of opportunity across Northern Virginia’s 500+ census tracts, based on seven factors that research has shown influence mobility. But we had to wonder—how did Northern Virginia’s opportunity factors compare to those in the broader DMV?

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May 11, 2021

by Elizabeth Hughes, Senior Director of Insight RegionTM

Our region is a great place to raise a child, and now, Insight Region has produced one more data point to prove it.

Our next brief in the Inclusive Prosperity series—Spreading the Wealth —explores economic mobility, the likelihood that a child raised in a lower-income family will make it to the top quintile for income as an adult. The brief relies on data from Opportunity Insights, a think tank of out Harvard that has quantified rates of economic mobility for every census tract in the country. And their data show that of the region’s kids who grew up at or near poverty in the 1990s, approximately one in five achieved economic mobility, the highest rate of any metro area in the country.* Northern Virginia also had the highest rates of mobility among Black and Hispanic children; ten percent of Black children raised here in a lower-income family achieved economic mobility, four times higher than the national average.

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May 11, 2021

Thirty years ago, children growing up in a lower-income family in Northern Virginia enjoyed the highest rate of economic mobility in the country; 19 percent were earning in the top quintile for household income as adults, the highest rate of economic mobility across the 50 most populous metro areas. This near universal “prosperity bump” extended across racial-ethnic groups. If history is any indication, that story will remain unchanged.

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January 25, 2021

by Elizabeth Hughes, Senior Director of Insight RegionTM

Insight Region recently released its first research brief, Unequal Burden, which highlighted the state of housing affordability in Northern Virginia. The brief and the release event that we held on January 13th (watch here) have generated a lot of questions about how we move forward as a region.

In this post, I am joined by my colleague Michelle Krocker (MK) from the Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance to begin to answer some of those questions. Please check back as we continue to update this page with more responses.

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January 13, 2021

by Elizabeth Hughes, Senior Director of Insight RegionTM

Northern Virginia is one of the country’s most expensive places to live, but also one of its most affordable.

Now, I know how that sounds. But look at the data—in 2019, Loudoun County had the fourth highest median housing cost among all counties and independent cities in the country, followed by Fairfax (#8), Arlington (#10), Prince William (#24), and Alexandria (#26). The same year, 72% of households had housing costs that were considered “affordable” by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and just 11% were considered severely burdened by housing costs, a rate well below the national average (14%) and other tech hubs.

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January 13, 2021


A new report by the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia finds that 67% of Northern Virginians with low incomes (less than $50,000 per year for a family of four) are “severely burdened” by the cost of housing, spending over half of their income on rent, mortgage, taxes, fees, and basic utilities. Individuals and families with moderate incomes ($50,000 to $100,000 for a family of four) fare slightly better, but still over half (59 percent) cannot afford their homes and 19% spend over half of their income on housing.

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October 8, 2020

In 2020, the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia launched Insight Region®, a center for community research. It is a growing hub for reliable, well-researched, and actionable data and analyses on issues critical to Northern Virginia. Through this work, we seek to inform charitable giving, inspire civic and social action, and foster a more inclusive, prosperous region.

In 2021, Insight Region will focus on understanding and promoting Inclusive Prosperity – increasing self-sufficiency, expanding economic opportunity, and forging pathways for long-term movements out of poverty for all of Northern Virginia’s residents.

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September 10, 2020
EH headshot1 300x350Today, the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia welcomes Elizabeth Hughes as the new Senior Director of Insight Region®, a research center at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia launched earlier this year that analyzes local trends, convenes civic leaders, and promotes civic and social action.

Elizabeth has spent her career at the intersection of research and policy, helping decision-makers sort through the noise and find relevant, actionable insights to help guide operations, maximize productivity, and achieve strategic goals.
“Through the collection and curation of relevant, reliable, and actionable data, Insight Region will allow the community to explore the unique strengths and needs that define this region and to understand how investments in programs and services can make Northern Virginia more resilient, healthy, and equitable,” said Hughes.

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