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Introduction: About the Community Stress Index

Welcome to the NAF Community Stress Index (CSI). We would like to take a moment to provide some information on this tool and the use of this tool.

The Community Stress Index examines five multi-dimensional domains and 16 indicators of quality of life in communities throughout the country – including indicators such as unemployment, high school graduates, access to health care, housing affordability and violent crime at the state, county, city, school district, and high school levels. The Community Stress Index achieves this by combining these 16 indicators to create an aggregate picture of the stressors affecting individual communities. Stress is real for every individual and community and comes in many forms. Often experienced as a strain or challenge, stress requires attention or action to uncover the contributing factors and find a solution that will improve the circumstance. In this context, the designers envision this tool being used in research, resource allocation, education leadership, and philanthropy, as an understanding of multiple community stressors is needed to better gauge the success of philanthropic and/or other community initiatives, especially in the context of educational impact.

Intro and Tabs

Orientation to the Index

Hover overs and search fields

Expanded Indicator Table and Indicator Definitions

Added Columns, Filtering, Exporting


The Data

Numerous factors influence the stress of communities. In order to select metrics for this project that provide a broad picture of community stress, NAF consulted experts from the NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management to develop and guide us through the process of selection. The criteria used for selection of the metrics is included in the user guide. Landing on five multi-dimensional domains with 16 measurable indicators that can be applied to every community in the United States, the Community Stress Index aggregates data across multiple areas. These domains and indicators are listed below:



  • Unemployment (% +16 unemployed but seeking work)

  • Poverty (% 0-17 in poverty)

  • Access to broadband (% Households with subscription to any broadband service)

  • Single parent households (% Under 17 living with one parent)



  • High School graduates (% 25+ high-school graduates or equivalent)

  • Linguistic isolation (% limited English-speaking households)



  • Access to healthcare (% 6-18 with health insurance coverage)

  • Infant mortality (Infant deaths per 1,000 live births)

  • SNAP recipients (% Households with children under 18 receiving SNAP)

  • Low birth weight (% live births < 2.5 Kg)

  • Lead exposure (Lead-Exposure Risk Index)



  • Housing vacancy rate (% Housing vacancy rate)

  • Housing affordability (% Household’s spending > 50% income on housing)

  • Park access (% within 10-minute walk of green space)



  • Violent crime rate (Violent crimes / 100,000)

  • Incarceration rate (Jail incarceration / 100,000)


Scoring of Domains, Composite Score and Indicators

For all of these areas high score equals high stress or challenge; Low score equals low stress or challenge.


Understanding Composite Scores

Composite Scores are provided for each of the five community domains on the CSI (Economic, Education, Housing, Health, and Crime) as well as a total aggregate score of community stress. Understanding what these data points are is critical to understanding the composite score.

Each domain has a number of indicators that make up its composite score. Using Education as an example, the two indicators listed are graduation rate and linguistic isolation. This means a school could have a low graduation rate (which would be a high score) and a low linguistic rate (which would be a low score). These two indicators are then used to formulate the composite Education score (giving equal weight to both), which provides a score in the Education domain that is the average of both indicators.


Indicator Scores

If you are more interested in one indicator variable over another (e.g., graduation rate vs. linguistic isolation) for the purpose of your work, you will want to pay special attention to the indicator of your choice. You have the option of exporting the data and viewing your indicator of interest there as well.


Asset Based Framing

Asset-based framing has been considered closely in the language and potential use cases of this tool, and your feedback is welcome, as we consider new versions



The following is a list of exemplars consulted through this development process:

Opportunity Index

Distressed Community Index

Healthiest Communities – US News

Community Opportunity Map -Casey

Kids Count - Casey

Why is this called Community Stress Index?

What does a high score and low score mean?

Are there School Attendance Boundaries (SAB) on open enrollment districts/schools, including charters and magnets?

How many schools are listed in the Community Stress Index?

Does the Community Stress Index include all schools or just public schools?

What are the main sources of data used in the Community Stress Index?

Are any domains weighted more than others when creating the index’s composite score?

Why are we using data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau?

How can I use the information in the Community Stress Index?

What do the asterisks and dagger symbols mean?

What is a Gini Index and why is it provided as supplemental data on the Community Stress Index?

Can I download the results from the Community Stress Index, or do I have to view them online?

What do the numbers in the index mean?

What does it mean when data are missing?

Can I share the Community Stress Index with anyone?

Search by State, County, City, School Zip Code, School District, High School

Community Stress Index User Guide