Iowa Equity Challenge Day 16

Day 16 of 21



Wealth plays an important role in how people get access to many different kinds of opportunities. 


Education is one prominent example. In 2018, the “Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States” report determined the likelihood of high school students attending college based on their family’s income level. The data showed that Black students from families with the highest level of income had a 91% college continuation rate, compared to 61% of Black students from the lowest-income families. Similar trends based on household income were found for Hispanic and white families. 


This data shows that wealth impacts everyone. However, when you compare the number of actual students from higher- or lower-income families across different races, you begin to see how non-whites overall have fewer opportunities.


For example, look at the median household income by race from 2015 to 2019 here in the state of Iowa.



Image Source: State Data Center of Iowa


As you can see in the chart above, families from the four highlighted races have a lower median household income than the state average of $60,523. This means that individuals from these races have fewer opportunities as a whole because of lower  wealth or income. 


Fewer opportunities means a decreased likelihood of going to college, getting a job, saving for retirement, and living a healthy lifestyle.



Learning Objectives

  • Learn about the differences in median household income and retirement savings among different races.
  • Understand how a lower income can prevent access to opportunity in life.
  • Discover how wealth inequality can impact all of us.


Today's Activities


Choose one or more of these daily activities to learn about today’s topic. Plan to set aside 15 to 30 minutes to complete the activities and journal about your thoughts and feelings. 


Watch “Growing Up Poor in America” (54:22), an episode of PBS FRONTLINE, to learn about the lives of low-income families. If you have limited time, check out the first 10 to 15 minutes.


Listen to one of these episodes from the Race and Wealth Podcast Network. 


Read  “How rising inequality hurts everyone, even the rich” (7 min) from The Washington Post.


Capture what you learned by writing down your thoughts and feelings about today's content.

  • What was your “aha moment” (moment of surprise or new information)?
  • Does this information change your perspective on wealth and income?
  • How will you use what you learned today to create change?

Download a free journal page for today.


Additional Resources & Activities


If you would like to dig deeper into this issue, check out these additional resources. We encourage you to revisit this material when you have more time. Feel free to come back to this topic as often as you’d like!


  • Read “The Income Gaps in Higher Education Enrollment and Completion” (5 min) from the Association of American Colleges and Universities to see data about how income relates to higher education enrollment and completion. 
  • Listen to the song “Fast Car” (4:54) by Tracy Chapman, a powerful account of social and economic upheaval. 
  • Listen to the song “Arrested Development” (4:05) by Mr. Wendal, told from the perspective of a homeless individual. 




Share your reflections on today’s topic on social media using the hashtag #IowaEquityChallenge.




Next Topic: The Justice System