Commentary: Iowa Needs Problem Solvers To Narrow Opportunity Gaps

In 1974 a handful of leaders in Fort Dodge’s strongly black Pleasant Valley neighborhood wanted the city to do something to help strengthen that neighborhood, especially for young black kids growing up. A community center could help, they suggested, though none was established at the time. A few years later, though, the city built a nine-hole golf course along the Des Moines River and next to Pleasant Valley. Low-income and black residents in the neighborhood were not quick to hit the links. The purpose for bringing this up is not to reopen an old wound but, rather, to set the stage for what is happening now in Fort Dodge, where 5.5 percent of the city’s 24,751 residents are black and 5 percent are Latino.