When the federal government designated 25 Opportunity Zones in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Foundation saw an opportunity to attract private investment to low income communities. It was important that the investment lead to inclusive economic growth, helping improve lives for the people in those communities. The Foundation held conversations throughout the state with community members, government officials, and other non-profits to discuss how best to take advantage of the program. Before each meeting, the Foundation looked in PolicyMap
at data for these communities to ground themselves and understand what unique problems the communities faced. For example, in the former mill town of Woonsocket, it stood out that a disproportionate share of the low-income population lacked access to transportation and food stores. This helped them ask informed questions of community leaders and residents.