We believe information has the power to drive positive community change.  Our community is growing and changing, and we want to engage people across the region in understanding these evolving needs and working together to make a difference. We invite you to explore these data points and indicators, along with the data cards from What Matters 2015, with the hope that they will spark questions and great conversation that will bring us all together to make a difference. 

Understanding the Triangle

What is the state of our region? How do we best learn about the makeup of our communities, so that we can better serve them?

Triangle Community Foundation takes a look at the current state of our region, and a deeper dive into the four counties that make up a diverse, prosperous, yet challenged community. Child poverty, racial, ethnic, & age composition, and a pattern of significant growth are just some of the factors in our changing Triangle. The Foundation believes that working together, we must continue to learn about the needs, issues, and opportunities in our backyard so that we can build a vibrant, thriving region, and make a difference for the future generations to come.

What do we mean by Triangle region?

County Map

The Foundation defines the Triangle region of North Carolina to be the four counties of Chatham, Durham, Orange and Wake, in the central part of our state. The region consists of an estimated 1,457,983 people, with Wake County being the largest.

Counties by Estimated Population, 2013: Wake (964,616), Durham (286,053), Orange (139,694), & Chatham (67,620)

Regional Quick Facts 

Data compiled by South by North Strategies, LTD. Sources available upon request. 1



The Changing Triangle

We have undergone a remarkable demographic, cultural, and economic transformation over the past 25 years. From 1990 to 2010, the number of people residing in our region grew by 85.4 %. Similar growth is expected to continue. If projections hold, the Triangle could add 563,000 more people by 2030; in other words, we are on a path to add nearly as many people as currently live in the City of Raleigh and Town of Cary combined. That’s 77 people per day!

Judged by many high-level indicators, the Triangle is a prosperous place – topping many “best of” lists. A region with an unemployment rate that in recent years has averaged well below the statewide rate and a median household income level that is well above the statewide figure. Going forward, we should benefit from a growing labor force that is well-educated and entrepreneurial, as well as a diverse economy fueled by the creative people drawn to the region’s institutions of higher learning.

However, despite all of our successes, this region is characterized by marked, if too often invisible, economic divides. Between 2009 and 2013, almost 30 of every 100 Triangle residents, on average, lived in households with incomes no greater than twice the federal poverty level. At the end of 2014, an estimated 170,000 Triangle residents relied on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to help satisfy basic nutritional needs, while some 40 % of the Triangle’s schoolchildren were enrolled in the free and reduced National School Lunch Program in 2012-2013. Moreover, the region’s comparatively strong labor market and high income levels mask stark racial and ethnic disparities in employment prospects, income levels, living standards, and social mobility.

Fortunately, we are not powerless to address our challenges. Deep stores of financial and human capital, along with the organizational capacities present in a robust charitable and nonprofit sector, provide the Triangle with the resources needed to build more vibrant, prosperous, and sustainable communities. But first – we must learn. Understanding the extent to which the region has changed and is apt to continue changing will help us develop effective strategies to build a stronger tomorrow.


Jessica Aylor

Director of Community Investment
Phone 919.474.8370 ext:4022
Email jessica@trianglecf.org