See the numbers behind the Prosper Waco goals

by Matthew Polk

The Prosper Waco initiative is about setting bold goals for positive change in our community and finding ways to reach them. The Prosper Waco steering committees of community members have set goals around the following issues that our community wants to reach by 2020:

  • More kids being ready to learn when they start Kindergarten
  • More students (and adults) finishing a college degree or certificate that will get them a good job
  • More people knowing where they need to go to get the best healthcare…and being able to afford it
  • More people living a healthy lifestyle and losing weight
  • More women receiving the healthcare they need to make sure they and their babies are healthy
  • More community members reporting good mental health
  • More youth (16-24 year olds) getting a job
  • More people getting the job training they need to make a better living
  • More people being able to save for their future

All of these things sound like positive change, but it can be hard to wrap your head around how we know whether we are moving in the right direction. To make it as easy as possible to visualize where we stand on each of these goals and whether we are going in the right direction, we have created a ‘data dashboard’ on the Prosper Waco website (

When you visit the site, click ‘The Goals’ on the main menu. You will see three icons representing the Education, Health, and Financial Security goals. Click on one of the icons for a brief explanation of each goal and how we are measuring it. You can click the tab for each goal to see a chart depicting where we stand based on the data that is currently available.

Over time, we will continue to track the indicators associated with each goal and add that data to the charts so that we can all see whether we are going in the right direction. Is the number of Kindergarten-ready students going up? Is the number of overweight and obese adults in our community going down? We’ll all be able to see it as we continue to track our progress.

But be patient! This big-picture data about our community won’t change overnight…these are big needles that take a lot of effort to move in the right direction. In fact, we can’t snap our fingers and collect this data every day, or even every month. Much of this data is collected on an annual basis through a variety of local, state, and national instruments. That’s why our community has given itself five years to make the difference we want to make on these big, important issues.

If you are the kind of person who ‘reads the fine print’ and always wants to know the details, the data dashboard may be only the tip of the iceberg of what you want to know about our community. For you, we have more! Keep an eye on ‘The Goals’ page for the community scorecard that we will post by the end of November.

This scorecard is a more in-depth report on a wide range of indicators about our community. It puts the Prosper Waco initiative goals in context by providing additional data that “tells the whole story.” The initiative goals are important markers of positive change for our community, but we all know that one piece of information by itself doesn’t always paint the whole picture. The community scorecard collects many different data points and explains them in a straightforward way.

We know that Wacoans (and especially Act Locally Waco readers!) care about Waco. Even if data and numbers aren’t your thing, we want to make it as easy as possible for you to keep up with how our community is doing on the most important issues: education, health, and financial security for all members of our community.

If you have any questions about any of the information you find on our website, or if you have ideas about what it takes to improve education, health, and financial security in your community, don’t hesitate to reach out. In fact, you can use our new community engagement email address: [email protected]!

Send an email to us at this address and you’ll get a reply either from a Prosper Waco staffer or a member of the Prosper Waco community engagement council—a community member who lives in your neck of the woods. Either way, every comment and idea is important and helps guide where this community initiative goes!

matthew polkThis Act Locally Waco Blog post was written by Matthew Polk. Matthew is Executive Director of Prosper Waco. Prior to that, he served as Superintendent of Rapoport Academy Public School. He and his wife attended Baylor, and after spending a few years in the northeast, they returned to Waco to raise their family. They have four children, ages 8 to 3 months. You can contact him at [email protected].

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.




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