SOUTH KING COUNTY –The co-author of a recently released book featuring South King County is speaking today in Auburn about the new challenges facing the region and the collaborative solutions working to strengthen communities. Alan Berube, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of The Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, will be discussing findings from his book, “Confronting Suburban Poverty in America,” at the South King Council of Human Services annual awards luncheon this morning.

The low-income population in America’s suburbs is growing faster than anywhere else in the country, surging 64 percent in the past decade and growing at more than twice the rate of the urban low-income population. By 2011, there were 3 million more low-income people living in the suburbs of the nation’s major metropolitan areas than in their big cities. Yet the antipoverty infrastructure built over the past several decades does not fit this rapidly changing geography, according to the book.

Some of the most intense demographic and economic changes happening in America today are occurring in the King County communities south of Seattle. These transformations are featured in the book, along with the Road Map Project, a region-wide effort aimed at dramatically improving student achievement from cradle to college and career in South King County and South Seattle, as one solution to this growing challenge.

The book places South King County’s challenges in a national perspective while also emphasizing the assets that will help the region surmount those challenges. New solutions aim to alleviate poverty and increase access to opportunity for low-income residents.

“This book presents real data, and the next step is to move beyond data to create progress and systemic change. The City of Federal Way sees these demographic changes as an opportunity to build new connections throughout our community. We are excited by all the great work happening in our city and across the Road Map Project region. It is this kind of collaboration that will help bring more opportunity to all our citizens,” said Federal Way Mayor Skip Priest.

“While South King County communities face tremendous challenges with poverty, I am heartened to see that collaborative efforts are making a difference in our region. We need to continue to leverage the great momentum mentioned in the book. It is our responsibility to continue to emphasize partnership and collaboration as a way to create new paths to progress,” said Nathan Phillips, Director of the South King Council of Human Services.

“Our region is seeing demographic and economic trends that no one can ignore. The communities of South King County have important challenges, but tremendous assets, including the energy of a new generation of immigrant and refugee communities.  We must all rise up to collectively meet these challenges and be part of the solution. OneAmerica is a strong partner in the work to provide opportunities and equal access to all people. Together, we know we can lift up our communities and provide our children with brighter futures,” said Rich Stolz, Executive Director of OneAmerica.

“The achievement and opportunity gaps in our region are very serious. If we want to improve the success of our students, we need to make improvements along the entire education continuum and better serve high-need communities. This book is shedding light on the demographic realities and challenges across the region and will help start the conversations that are necessary between policy-makers and communities to strengthen education systems and deliver the additional supports children in poverty need to be successful,” said Mary Fertakis, of the Tukwila School District Board of Directors.

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