Access to education, opportunity, housing, care is behind local disparities

By Hermann Pereira


The past few weeks here at Prosper Waco have been filled with great conversation and collaborations throughout the community. We have been grappling with systemic issues that are burdening many parts of our community.


Many of the issues deal with access. Whether you are discussing educational attainment, workforce training, healthcare, housing, or social determinants of health you see that a lack of access has caused great disparities.


In many of these conversations the data trends the same way. Parts of our community thrive and parts of the community continue to not achieve. One example is the percent of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher in Waco. In our community education levels for Hispanic and Black residents remain significantly lower than other groups.


You can find data like this in our recent report titled The 2021 Waco Snapshot Report which can be found on our website. www.prosperwaco.org


Why do these disparities continue? Those are difficult questions but a quote I read recently really struck me. It is from Edwards Deming, who said, “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.” Read that a couple of times and let that sink in.


As a community we must be willing to grapple with the systemic issues in order to improve the systems. I get the privilege of interacting with many wonderful community leaders who are willing to have these tough conversations. We must work collaboratively to co-create solutions to improve our systems. If not us, then who?


If you want to have a conversation about this and/or other topics about our community, please feel free to reach out — hermann@prosperwaco.org.

Hermann Pereira is chief program officer for Prosper Waco.