Access to Opportunity:  Place, Poverty, and Social Service Provision in the U.S.  
About this Website About Survey Data Out of Reach Papers and Reports Prof. Scott W. Allard
About Survey Data papers and reports Blog


Scott W. Allard recently was appointed as Professor, Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington. He is a nonresidential senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program and co-director of the Family Self-Sufficiency Data Center at the University of Chicago.

Click here for Professor Allard's research report "Strained Suburbs: The Social Services Challenge of Rising Suburban Poverty," from the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, which explores how suburban nonprofit organizations are coping with rising need and falling revenues.


Place, poverty, and opportunity are inextricably linked in the United States. Whether looking at neighborhoods in Chicago or towns in rural Kentucky, place determines the opportunities and community resources available to low-income populations. Not only do the working poor often live far from economic opportunity, but they often may not live nearby the government and nonprofit safety net programs that can help them access better economic opportunities and care for their families. To the extent that safety net programs and resources are inaccessible to the populations they seek to help, our efforts to promote work and healthier families will fall short.

With more than 50 million Americans living near or below the poverty line and need on the rise, it becomes important to have an accurate understanding of the safety net in place to help the working poor. The work presented on this site addresses how today's safety net functions, how it is funded, where gaps in assistance are most severe, and challenges facing the safety net in the future.

Click here to read the introduction to my book, Out of Reach: Place, Poverty, and the New American Welfare State, which explores the consequences of the transformation in safety net assistance from a cash-based system to one where social service programs compose a much larger share of expenditures. I've also posted several recent reviews of the book.

This website contains a number of reports, tables, and maps that further explore issues of place, race, poverty, and opportunity in America. Click here for shorter research briefs and reports on the current economic crisis and its implications for nonprofit organizations and policymakers. Click here to download Professor Allard's current vita (in .pdf format).

Scott W. Allard
Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs  
University of Washington