The 10 Most Important Drivers of Community Strength

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Recently Conducted YMCA Survey Measures How Americans View Quality of Life in their Communities Nationwide.

"It’s encouraging that, despite lingering day-to-day uncertainty, Americans are looking ahead to what it will take to make their communities strong in the future,” said Neil Nicoll, president and CEO, Y-USA.

As confidence in the U.S. economy continues to waver, Americans’ expectations for their communities have risen and in some cases changed, according to findings released today from the Y Community Snapshot. Respondents rate education and community involvement as increasingly vital to building and sustaining strong communities. The survey also found a 30 percent gap between what people say is most important in creating a strong community today and how satisfied they are with their own community’s performance in those areas.

Y Community Snapshot participants ranked providing a safe environment for children as the top priority for a second consecutive year. Their local school systems were ranked as the second most important factor impacting their community’s strength – up from fifth place last year. In addition, 64 percent of parents believe an educational achievement gap exists within their community, specifically as it relates to an individual’s income, status or wealth.

The Y Community Snapshot, commissioned by YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), is a consumer survey measuring how Americans view quality of life in their communities nationwide. The survey is based on factors such as community member involvement, and the quality of a community’s services ranging from education to promoting healthy lifestyles.

The Top 10 Most Important Community Strength Drivers of 2013

1: Safe environment for children
2: Local school system (from kindergarten through high school)
3: Health care, including emergency services
4: A safe, healthy physical environment in general
5: Public services (police, library system, transportation, etc.)
6: Availability of fresh foods (grocery stores, supermarkets, farmers markets)
7: A place to start a family, raise children, build a future
8: Employment opportunities, job training for teens, young adults
9: Early childhood development/pre-elementary school activities, resources, programs
10: Affordable, well-maintained housing (privately owned, rental, public housing)

About the Y Community Snapshot

The Y Community Snapshot was conducted online by Toluna between February 20 and 25, 2013 and is an opinion survey of 1,500 online interviews with U.S. adults aged 18+ conforming to U.S. Census parameters for age, gender, and region of residence. The survey has a total of 30 questions and a +/- 2.5 - 2.75% margin of error at 95% confidence for demographic, behavioral, attitudinal and other subgroups within the survey.

For more information, or to see additional survey results, please visit


About YMCA of the USA
YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) is the national resource office for the Y, one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 21 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change.

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Mamie Moore

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