Opportunity mapping is a research tool used to understand the dynamics of “opportunity” within metropolitan areas. The purpose of opportunity mapping is to illustrate where opportunity rich communities exist (and assess who has access to these communities) and to understand what needs to be remedied in opportunity poor communities. Opportunity mapping builds upon the rich history of using neighborhood based information and mapping to understand the challenges impacting our neighborhoods.

Why map neighborhood conditions?

An extensive body of research has established that neighborhood conditions and proximity to opportunities such as high performing education or sustainable employment have a critical impact on quality of life and self advancement. The central premise of opportunity mapping is that residents of a metropolitan area are situated within an interconnected web of opportunities that shape their quality of life. Opportunity mapping provides an analytical framework to measure opportunity comprehensively in metropolitan regions and determine who has access to opportunity rich areas. Opportunity mapping also provides a framework to assess what factors are limiting opportunity in a community and can assist in identifying what measures are needed to remedy these impediments to opportunity.

Understanding “Neighborhood Effect”: Nearly fifty years of research literature has established the importance of neighborhoods or “place” on people. The Kirwan Institute continually tracks this research and keeps an updated annotated bibliography of relevant research literature. Follow this link to access the annotated bibliography. For more information about our on-going research on neighborhood effect please contact Glennon Sweeney.

Building Healthy Communities of Opportunity

Health is more than health care. It not only reflects personal choices about healthy habits, or access to primary care, but is significantly impacted by where one lives. Social factors like poverty, unemployment, housing, education, and the food system collectively exert an equally important, maybe even greater, impact on health…More

Major Opportunity Mapping Initiatives


This Prezi provides an introductory overview of The Kirwan Institute’s Opportunity Mapping work. It presents the Opportunity model in three phases: theory & research foundations, data & methodology, and lessons learned & innovations. Please contact us for more information about how community engagement and mapping is being used to expand opportunity for all.

For more information, contact: Glennon Sweeney.