About Boone County Upward Mobility

Boone County's Upward Mobility project is an initiative aimed at increasing economic mobility from poverty and utilizes Results-Based Accountability (RBA) to drive equity-centered and data-informed decisions. RBA involves community stakeholders at each step of the planning process to guide implementation of intervention strategies identified by the community as part of a Mobility Action Plan.


Boone County was selected as one of eight counties or municipalities in the Upward Mobility Cohort with funding from the Urban Institute. This award allowed Boone County to create a Mobility Action Plan focused on reducing racial and ethnic inequities and support upward mobility from poverty. The Urban Institute provided technical assistance to support the use of mobility metrics, which include measures of economic success while also focusing on power, autonomy, and being valued in the community.

Initial priorities for Boone County were set during the Upward Mobility Kickoff event, a data walk, held on August 11, 2021. Data was presented based on the Mobility Metrics and included drivers of upward mobility in the categories of Strong and Healthy Families, Opportunities to Learn and Earn, and Supportive Communities. Boone County used local metrics to establish priorities, set targets, and develop the county's Mobility Action Plan. Community stakeholders identified and reached consensus on priorities to begin the strategic action planning.

Shared Language

One aspect of the use of Results-Based Accountability within Boone County's Upward Mobility efforts involves the use of Shared Language. This is a concept which helps make sure everyone has a common understanding of what is being described and discussed.

Mission Statement

The Upward Mobility project supports actions that give all Boone County children, youth, and adults the power to improve their lives, to be valued and feel like they belong, and to strengthen their economic well-being.


Support for Upward Mobility comes from staff of the Boone County Community Services Department.

Verna Laboy

Verna Laboy | Program Manager

Verna Laboy has a strong history of community engagement spanning over three decades in Boone County and now serves as the Program Manager for Upward Mobility at the Boone County Community Services Department. She led the City of Columbia's award-winning “Live Well by Faith” program which addressed health disparities within the African American faith community. She is a Certified Community Health Worker and a founding member of the Worley Street Roundtable, an organization addressing education disparities in the local public school system. She was born in Hannibal, Missouri, grew up in Peoria, Illinois, and graduated from Columbia College. Verna looks forward to forming partnerships with local leaders and community members to help turn the curve toward upward mobility to see all Boone County families thrive.

Joanne Nelson


Kerby Webb

Program Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Specialist

Gina Jenkins

Data & Performance Analyst