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Posted on: September 18, 2023

The Equity Center at UVA and City of Charlottesville Release Stepping Stones Report

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September 6, 2023

The Equity Center at UVA and City of Charlottesville Release Stepping Stones Report on the Well-Being of Local Youth and Families

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA –   The Equity Center at the University of Virginia, in partnership with the Charlottesville Department of Human Services (DHS) and Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, released the latest version of the Stepping Stones Report, which provides updated, comprehensive data on the well-being of children and families in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, along with a supplemental report that presents racially disaggregated data. The report, which draws from publicly available sources, will serve as a resource to empower policymakers and academics to drive evidence-based policy changes and advance research for the greater good.

“One of the report's remarkable achievements is the strategic use of racially disaggregated data, shedding light on inequities and disparities that demand attention,” said Daniel Fairley, Youth Opportunity Coordinator for the City of Charlottesville and Steering Committee member of The Equity Center at UVA. “This nuanced approach ensures privacy and mitigates potential misinterpretation while fostering a greater awareness of structural inequities. With a spotlight on equity, this report stands as a vital tool to inform equitable policymaking, embodying the commitment to ensuring the well-being and success of all youth in our community."

The report identifies:

  • The report validates that the number of cost-burdened renters in Charlottesville is consistently high, hovering around 50%. The rate of cost-burdened homeowners in Charlottesville and Albemarle County has declined by at least 10% since 2010.
  • The number people experiencing homelessness increased substantially from about 180 people in 2021 to 266 in 2022. Black people are experiencing the highest rate of homelessness, at nearly 4 for every 1,000 residents in the Charlottesville region. The overall rate for the region is about 1 person experiencing homelessness for every 1,000 residents.
  • ACPS and CCS had a consistent average daily attendance rate of 96% from 2008-2019. Attendance rates remained steady in CCS during the 2019-2020 school year, at the onset of the COVID pandemic, and increased slightly in ACPS. But the average daily attendance (ADA) rate in both divisions and the state dipped to 93-94% in the state in the 2021-2022 school year.
  • The childhood poverty rate in Charlottesville is consistently higher than that in the state, while the rate in Albemarle County is consistently lower than that in the state. The rate in Charlottesville ranges between 15% and 24% while the rate in Albemarle County ranges between 7% and 12%. In 2022, the federal poverty level for a family of four was $27,750.

For The Equity Center’s first time contributing to the report, which was last released in 2019, the team of researchers and data scientists validated past report data. The Stepping Stones Report reveals that more than half of renters in Charlottesville are cost-burdened, meaning they are paying more than 30% of their income toward housing. The number of people experiencing homelessness in Charlottesville increased by nearly 39% between 2021 and 2022, with Black people making up most of the population. The childhood poverty rate in Charlottesville is consistently higher than that in the state, while the rate in Albemarle County is consistently lower than that in the state.

“The stories are both optimistic – the increase in on-time graduation over time, the decline in the use of out-of-school suspensions – and sobering – the persistence in the rate of children living in poverty and of cost-burdened renting households in our communities,” said Michele Claibourn, Director of Equitable Analysis for The Equity Center at UVA. “The supplemental report, showing how some of the measures vary across race in our community, is such an important addition. Across multiple measures, we see Black youth and adults are disproportionately harmed. We hope this analysis can help motivate our collective effort to the unfinished work of ensuring the institutions that shape our lives – health, education, economic – are made to serve everyone in the community.”

The Stepping Stones Report also identified positive trends, as on-time graduation rates have increased, and out-of-school suspensions have decreased in Charlottesville City Schools.

The report identifies that:

  •  In 2022, Albemarle County Public Schools and CCS held on-time graduation rates of 93-94% - higher than the state rate of 92%
  • During the 2009-10 school year, the suspension rate in CCS was 200 per 1,000 students and the rate was well over 100 at ACPS. The rate dropped to nearly 0 during the 2020 school year, when both divisions implemented hybrid learning schedules. The racial gap in CCS appears to be shrinking over time, closing the gap that exists between white and Asian students and Black and Latino students, who are more likely to receive out-of-school suspensions.
  • Trends show an increase in two-parent households in Charlottesville. In the city, the percentage of two-parent households increased from a low of 58% in 2014 to 65% in 2020.

“The impact of the updated Stepping Stones report will increase access to local data for agencies, institutions, non-profits, leaders and residents so they are fully informed of the needs of our community so they can make data-driven decisions,” said Charlottesville DHS Director Misty Graves. “Local data is often required for successful grant applications and advocacy efforts. This empowers us all to rise up to continue to meet the needs of our community while celebrating our successes in the critical metrics of wellbeing.”

The report answers the questions that are ever-present in the mind of every parent, teacher, resident, law enforcement officer, community advocate and policymaker: “How are we doing? Where do we need to focus our resources and efforts? What’s working well? And where are the gaps?”

As The Equity Center partners to unveil the latest Stepping Stones Report, we are taking a significant step towards understanding and addressing the challenges faced by our local community. This report not only sheds light on the realities our community members experience but also empowers us to work collaboratively for positive change. By harnessing the power of data, we can dismantle inequities, amplify voices, and guide evidence-based policies that reflect our commitment to a just and prosperous future for all.

Read the full Stepping Stones Report and Supplement here:


Information for press:

To coordinate an interview with Executive Director at The Equity Center, Ben Allen or Director of Equitable Analysis at The Equity Center, Michele Claibourn, please contact Sydney Shuler at or (908) 217-1425.

About the Charlottesville Department of Human Services:

The Department of Human Services (DHS) was created in 2010 to serve as a human services policy advisor to the City Manager in order to implement the social policy initiatives of the Charlottesville City Council. The vision of the DHS is to serve as the community’s premier provider in meeting the therapeutic needs of youth and families, supporting the community’s efforts to improve equity, and address poverty and its impacts. The DHS manages the Youth Council, Youth Opportunity Project initiative, Juvenile Justice Advisory Com- mittee, and other related community grants and initiatives. They provide services and programs that improve and support the resilience, health, and well-being of youth, families, and community organizations.

About the Equity Center:

Founded in 2019, the Center for the Redress of Inequity through Community-Engaged Scholarship (aka, the Equity Center) grows out of many years of social justice advocacy and groundbreaking work by individuals and organizations who have long called on the University of Virginia to address racism and inequity. We seek to advance a transformative approach to UVA’s research mission and to reform institutional values, pedagogy, and operations—in doing so, we will be a model for other universities seeking to promote equity and justice. Our vision is for universities to serve their local communities by providing resources to redress poverty and racial inequality, and by equipping students to build a just society. For more information visit

Media Contact
Sydney Shuler
Communications Specialist
(908) 217-1425

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