Explore these resources to promote inclusive economic prosperity for county residents. Counties may want to start with the three tools developed for local decision makers by NACo’s partners at Results for America, the Urban Institute and Opportunity Insights.

Additional selected resources provide targeted solutions in seven key policy areas, including housing, education and workforce development, financial security, health, community and neighborhood development, justice and public safety, and technology and information. Look for the Rural County icon for resources especially helpful for rural communities.

About this Tool

Explore these resources to promote inclusive economic prosperity for county residents. Counties may want to start with the three tools developed for local decision makers by NACo’s partners at Results for America, the Urban Institute and Opportunity Insights.

Additional selected resources provide targeted solutions in seven key policy areas, including housing, education and workforce development, financial security, health, community and neighborhood development, justice and public safety, and technology and information. Look for the Rural County icon for resources especially helpful for rural communities.

Featured Partner Resources

Opportunity Insights Opportunity Atlas 

The Opportunity Atlas maps neighborhoods where children have the best opportunity to achieve greater economic prosperity as compared to their parents. This analysis helps counties develop programs that target census tracts and communities where opportunity is lacking.  

Learn More

Urban Institute Upward Mobility Framework 

The Urban Institute’s Upward Mobility Framework identifies validated performance indicators that county leaders can use to set baselines and measure progress on policies and programs intended to boost upward mobility and narrow racial inequities. The indicators are organized into five categories: opportunity-rich and inclusive neighborhoods, high-quality education, rewarding work, healthy environment and access to good health care, and responsive and just governance. 

Learn More

Results for America Economic Mobility Catalog 

Results for America’s Economic Mobility Catalog provides examples of evidence-based strategies, practices and programs designed to improve outcomes that drive upward economic mobility for individuals, families and communities.  

Learn More

County-Level Data

These resources support counties to start our economic mobility journey and to decide on county priorities. 

Partner Resource

Urban Institute: Mobility Metrics

These mobility metrics measure progress toward increasing economic prosperity in every county. The Urban Institute's Upward Mobility Framework identifies five policy pathways out of poverty and a set of evidence-based measures to create conditions that boost the economic and social well-being of its residents. 

Partner Resource

Distressed Communities Index

The Distressed Communities Index geographically measures economic well-being within and between counties. 

Partner Resource | Rural Counties

Smart Growth Self-Assessment for Rural Communities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides a process and check list for rural communities to conduct a self assessment of existing codes, policies and programs to meet local goals to create healthy, environmentally resilient and economically robust places. The tool includes links to examples and resources for communities that want to work towards implementing new approaches based on assessment results. 

Partner Resource | Rural Counties

Headwater Economics: Rural Capacity Map

Headwater Economics developed the Rural Capacity Index to identify communities with gaps in the staffing and expertise needed to successfully apply for federal funding for infrastructure, climate resilience and community development projects. The 10 capacity indicators are mapped at the county level across the U.S. 

Understanding Economic Mobility

In the United States, economic mobility centers around the ideal that each generation can do better than the last. County leaders are uniquely positioned as economic mobility changemakers through their authorities, policies, service delivery and funding.

Learn More

NACo Resource

County Levers Webinar

NACo’s webinar highlights county leaders in Franklin County, Ohio and Waukesha County, Wis. who applied the guidance from NACo's County Levers to Drive Economic Mobility report to address county housing and workforce development needs.

NACo Resource

County Two-Generation Strategies for Family Wellbeing

This webinar discusses county implementation of a two-generation (child and parent focused) approach to human services and education in counties in Arapahoe County, Colo.; Franklin County, Ohio; Montgomery County, Md.; and Onondaga County, N.Y. 

Partner Resource

Opportunity Insights

Opportunity Insights provides foundational research, data and trends on the state of economic mobility at the local level and shares policy solutions to promote upward mobility for all. 

Partner Resource

Rural Dreams: Upward mobility in America’s countryside

This Brookings Institution report can help county leaders from rural areas understand how migration, K-12 education, family stability, health care, economic opportunity and race play a role in upward mobility. 

Housing

In the United States, economic mobility centers around the ideal that each generation can do better than the last. County leaders are uniquely positioned as economic mobility changemakers through their authorities, policies, service delivery and funding.

Learn More

NACo Resource

Housing Solutions Matchmaker Tool

This tool characterizes counties by the affordability, quality and supply of the housing stock and shares policy solutions and recommendations based on an individual county's housing profile. 

NACo Resource

Housing America’s Residents: The Role of Counties

This report defines the county role and authority in tackling America’s nationwide housing shortage, illustrating opportunities for county action. 

NACo Resource

Housing for the Justice-Involved: The Case for County Action

Explore administrative and legislative measures county leaders can take to build an effective housing program for formally incarcerated individuals re-entering society. 

NACo Resource

Local Strategies for Reaching Families and Young Children Experiencing Homelessness

NACo’s webinar features examples of county successes in addressing early childhood homelessness and informing local leaders on how to reduce barriers and increase families’ connections to health and early learning programs. 

Partner Resource

HUD Case Studies

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides case studies on strategies for increasing sustainable affordable housing and accessible public transportation. Examples include approaches for senior housing, anchor institutions, supportive housing and zoning. 

Education and Workforce Development

Education and workforce development programs increase county residents’ knowledge and skills to prepare them for better employment opportunities. This programming is critical for improving intragenerational economic mobility and supporting workers in low-wage occupations and those displaced from the labor market due to skills or credentials mismatch with available job openings.

Learn More

NACo Resource

Counties Can Improve Economic Mobility Through Adult Literacy

NACo’s webinar explains the connection between adult literacy rates and economic mobility and explores multisector approaches county leaders are taking to address adult literacy. 

Partner Resource | Rural Counties

USDA Resource Guide for Rural Workforce Development

The USDA Resource Guide outlines programs and resources from USDA and other federal agencies that build a stronger workforce in rural communities through workforce development planning; infrastructure and equipment financing; industry and employer engagement; entrepreneurship and local business development; and education, training and apprenticeship. 

Partner Resource

Pre-K for All: Improving and expanding pre-K programming through outcomes-based funding

This case study outlines how the City of Memphis and Shelby County, Tenn. established universal needs-based pre-K programming to address inequities in access to high-quality early childhood education. Strategies included multi-sector and intergovernmental partnerships, a joint city/county ordinance, clear reporting structure and data sharing practices, goals and success metric alignment and an outcomes-based funding model.  

Financial Security

About half of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck and lack stability when the status of their housing, employment or health changes. Counties can support their residents in attaining the three pillars of financial security: routinely positive cash flow, personal resources and public and private benefits.

Learn More

Partner Resource

Solving the Consumer Debt Crisis: An Action Guide for Local Government

The Aspen Institute Financial Security Program identifies ways counties can pursue tailored solutions to help mitigate the effects of consumer debt. Areas for county action include access to high-quality credit; delinquency, default and collections practices; government fines and fees; and student loan burden. 

Health

Health plays a key role in individuals’ economic outcomes. Poor health can prevent residents from earning a stable income, negatively affect educational outcomes and cut into household budgets. By effectively addressing public health priorities, counties can also advance economic mobility goals.

Learn More

NACo Resource

Addressing Housing to Improve Health Outcomes

NACo’s report provides strategies to address housing equity and improve health outcomes through partnerships, housing affordability, eviction prevention, housing quality and safety, neighborhood safety and proximity to amenities. 

NACo Resource

The County Role in Ending Homelessness and Improving Public Health

NACo’s report shares how homelessness can exacerbate or directly cause adverse health conditions through barriers to accessing health care, nutritious food and safety and social services. By leveraging partnerships and data, counties can solve homelessness and public health problems in both the short and long run. 

Partner Resource

Map The Meal Gap Interactive Map

This Feeding America resource equips local leaders with a high-level evaluation of their food insecurity challenges, measured for both children and the overall population in every county, congressional district and state and service area within Feeding America’s nationwide network of food banks. This data allows county leaders to benchmark their local communities and measure progress over time.  

Partner Resource

Case Study: King County, Washington

Results for America summarizes how King County, Wash. took a data-and-evidence-driven approach to improving the funding flexibility, outcomes focus and government-provider feedback in the health and human services providers contracting process. This turnkey model for optimizing service delivery allows counties to address public health challenges more efficiently, with more flexibility and with reduced overhead. 

Partner Resource

County Health Rankings & Roadmaps

Developed by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, this website provides health and quality-of-life data and resources to help county leaders understand root causes of challenges and opportunities that affect community health equity through targeted strategy development and partnerships. 

Community and Neighborhood Development

Key aspects of economic opportunity, including education, housing and access to employment, are tied to local geography. Counties have responsibilities pertaining to public amenities, parks, housing and transportation. Additionally, counties convene business and community leaders to partner on place-based solutions to local needs. Optimizing these resources can make the difference between economic opportunity and stagnation across county neighborhoods and communities.

Learn More

Partner Resource

Boosting Upward Mobility: A Planning Guide for Local Action

The Urban Institute report provides county leaders with step-by-step guidance on crafting a mobility action plan, understanding impediments to upward mobility and building a cross-sector team for bring all community members out of poverty. 

Partner Resource

How City-County Collaborations Advance Economic Mobility

Results for America identifies best practices for city-county collaborations based on six case studies from across the country. Examples highlight how local governments have successfully worked together to advance economic mobility by tackling homelessness, reducing the number of court-involved youth, implementing needs-based universal Pre-K, improving service delivery for disconnected youth and optimizing vaccine distribution. 

Partner Resource

How Small Towns and Cities can Use Local Assets to Rebuild their Economies: Lessons from Successful Places

The Environmental Protection Agency’s report analyzes successful examples from seven localities for revitalizing downtowns and building resiliency to economic shocks, emphasizing existing assets and location-specific resources. 

Partner Resource

Case Study: King County, Washington

Results for America summarizes how King County, Wash. took a data-and-evidence-driven approach to improving the funding flexibility, outcomes focus and government-provider feedback in the health and human services providers contracting process. This turnkey model for optimizing service delivery allows counties to address public health challenges more efficiently, with more flexibility and with reduced overhead. 

Partner Resource

County Health Rankings & Roadmaps

Developed by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, this website provides health and quality-of-life data and resources to help county leaders understand root causes of challenges and opportunities that affect community health equity through targeted strategy development and partnerships. 

Justice and Public Safety

Counties play a critical role in administering justice and public safety services. People involved in the criminal legal systems can face lifetime impediments to upward economic mobility. With county support, these individuals can avoid longstanding barriers to securing adequate employment and upward economic mobility.

Learn More

NACo Resource

County Guide to Reducing Jail Populations and Costs

NACo’s toolkit shares replicable strategies to improve outcomes for people involved in the criminal legal system and their families. The toolkit includes county-level examples that successfully reduce bookings and arrests, pretrial length of stay, technical violations of community supervision and recidivism.  

NACo Resource

County Roles and Opportunities in Reentry Planning

NACo’s publication recommends county-level solutions to support individuals successfully returning to their communities after incarceration, including strategies to provide information and resources for housing, physical and behavioral health treatment, training and workforce development and transportation assistance. 

Partner Resource

Case Study: Salt Lake County, Utah

Results for America’s case study describes how Salt Lake County, Utah enabled county residents to have their public criminal records removed, which in turn boosted their employment outcomes.  

Technology and Information

Increased broadband access and technical literacy provides opportunities for employment and education, helping county residents to access opportunity no matter where they live.

Learn More

Partner Resource | Rural Counties

Broadband is the Economic Development Tool of the 21st Century: How Broadband Opens Doors for a Majority-Hispanic Boomtown in West Texas

The Brookings Institution’s case study describes the use of broadband technology to support economic diversification in Ward County, Texas. This rural, majority-Hispanic county partnered with the community college and chamber of commerce to build out a new fiber-optic network that supported high-speed Internet connectivity for businesses, schools and hospitals. The investment also enabled workforce development programs for middle-skilled jobs that are less vulnerable to boom-and-bust cycles of the petroleum industry.  

Partner Resource

Broadband Resource Library

The National Broadband Resource Hub shares reports, sample contracts, strategic plans and guidance on practical models for advancing broadband equity. 

Thank You to Our Funder

NACo’s economic mobility work is generously funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The contents of this webpage and recommended resources do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Related Topics

Dive deep on all of NACo's resources related to economic mobility.

Related Committees & Programs

brecc
Program

Building Resilient Economies in Coal Communities

BRECC serves coal communities seeking to revitalize and diversify their economies. 

Image of GettyImages-905902112_cover_0.jpg
Program

NACo Housing Task Force

Launched in November 2022, the NACo Housing Task Force brings together county government officials from across the nation to illuminate the most critical housing challenges and opportunities from the county government perspective.

GettyImages-1436951314.jpg
Program

NACo Workforce Network

The NACo Workforce Network provides a platform to share resources, best practices and learning opportunities for HR and administration personnel from counties nationwide.

Image of Multnomah County_August 01, 2019_114.jpg
Program

Economic Mobility Leadership Network

The network supports county leaders to develop successful economic mobility strategies for their local communities.

Related News

GettyImages-1432990358.jpg
Advocacy

House Passes Historic Outdoor Recreation Legislation

The U.S. House passed the bipartisan EXPLORE Act (H.R.6492) on April 9 to boost outdoor recreation opportunities on public lands and aid local economies

Employers spread out on the floor of the 2023 Jefferson County, Ala. Second Chance Hiring Fair.
County News

Counties offer a second chance after incarceration

From job fairs and housing programs to educational opportunities, counties offer a second chance after incarceration.

deeds
News

County shines light on property deed history of racially restrictive covenants

The Durham County, N.C. Register of Deeds is using public records information and archival documentation to educate county residents on racially restrictive covenants in property deeds and how their impact can still be felt today. 

Corey Ringenberg, special initiatives director for Coconino County, Ariz., compares his team’s business development strategy to the book and film “Moneyball,” encouraging communities to just get ‘on base’ and not try to hit home runs. Photo by Jorge Rodriguez-Stanley
County News

Coal counties search for a crystal ball to their futures

The transition from a coal-reliant community is not just an economic adjustment, it's a cultural transformation.

roots
County News

Fixing titles opens doors for Black homeowners

Washtenaw County, Mich. has returned $3.3 million in real estate to families who were forced by segregation to rely on complex legal strategies to buy homes.

Upcoming Events

Harris County, Texas Commissioner Adrian Garcia describes how no zoning does not necessarily mean no problems when it comes to promoting housing affordability. Photo by Josh Reed
Webinar

Robert's Rules 101: Mastering the Basics

Robert’s Rules can help you run an efficient, effective meeting – who wouldn’t want that! This virtual workshop, a part of the County Leadership Curriculum, teaches the basics of Robert's Rules and how to apply them.

Meeting attendees listen to a presenter
Webinar

Global Connections for Your Local Economy Series #5: Wrap Up Discussion and NACo Resources

 If you’re ready to take your county’s economic development to the next level, join the International Economic Development Task Force throughout this Spring for a special virtual training series on how to bring jobs and capital to your community through foreign investment.

utility worker
Webinar

Powerful Partnerships: How Coal Communities and Utility Companies are Working Together

Join the BRECC National Network this July and learn how utility providers and local governments are working together to mitigate and respond to economic shocks. 

Stay Up-To-Date