About the Forsyth County Neighborhood Opportunity Atlas

About the Forsyth County Neighborhood Opportunity Atlas

In the Summer of 2021 and in response to a call for proposals from Forsyth County, the Spatial Justice Studio @ the Center for Design Innovation was contracted to develop a Neighborhood Opportunity Atlas (NOA). The focus of the proposal was to provide a more holistic analysis of conditions across the county that can be used to identify, compare and assess neighborhoods in Forsyth County now and into the future for planning, programming, budgeting and evaluation. The atlas was presented as an innovative, statistical, and geographic product that could provide quantitative census tract level information for a wide range of community indicators and begin a process to identify, target and tackle underperforming neighborhoods.

The goals of the NOA included:

  • developing a holistic analysis of neighborhood conditions across a wide range of variables;
  • expanding upon the Distressed Communities Report – 2016;
  • creating a ‘benchmark’ document for evaluating projects, programs and budgets; and
  • growing conversations focused on making decisions that promote access, equity, inclusivity, justice and sustainability within Forsyth County.

The NOA uses a combination of the knowledge of urban studies and the power of data science to begin to explore opportunities and challenges at the census tract level. By combining these two areas, Forsyth County can get an accurate baseline for existing conditions within communities throughout the County and target programs, policies and budgets to help all neighborhoods achieve a level of spatial justice. In the end, the NOA will provide information, but that alone will not make a difference, political will and community engagement will also need to be parts of the solution to making all of Forsyth County sustainable.



  • Russell M. Smith, Ph.D. Faculty Lead, Spatial Justice Studio@CDI & Professor of Geography, Winston-Salem State University
  • Zach Blizard, Research Principal, Winston-Salem State University
  • Kristie Staton, Website & Graphic Design, Creative Force Marketing
  • Rachel Midgett, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Winston-Salem State University
  • Lindsay Webb, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Forsyth Technical Community College

Special thanks to Forsyth County, MapForsyth, Forsyth County Department of Public Health, Forsyth County Board of Elections, Forsyth County Department of Health and Human Services for the support and assistance in developing the Atlas.