Civic, education, nonprofit and political leaders from across Central Iowa participated in Opportunity in Iowa: Closing the Gaps Between Youth and Economic Success, a forum held at Des Moines Area Community College’s Ankeny Campus on Friday, April 5. The event was cohosted by Opportunity Nation, a national campaign dedicated to expanding economic mobility and jumpstarting the American Dream and its local affiliate, Opportunity Iowa.
More and more states, as well as the federal government, are realizing just how important high-quality CTE and apprenticeships are to help young Americans get good jobs in growing industries and strengthen the economy. A new initiative by Vice President Biden to promote apprenticeships as a pathway to a college degree will help youth and provide employers with trained talent in the process.
Finally, more attention is being paid to a powerful path to the middle class that is often overlooked in the United States: apprenticeships. If we are going to fill the estimated five million new “middle skill” jobs that will require some post-secondary training or credential, but not a four-year degree, by 2020, our country has to make high quality career and technical education programs and apprenticeships a priority.
A Massachusetts group named Opportunity Nation says it has come up with a way to measure which states provide greatest access to the American Dream. The Opportunity Index takes 16 economic indicators—among them traditional measures like the unemployment rate and nontraditional ones like the percentage of adults who volunteer—and mashes them together to create an opportunity score for each state.
As some of you may have read via Opportunity Nation’s Senior Advisor Sarah Beaulieu’s Huffington Post blog: I Took My Baby to SXSW and Lived to Tell About It, I was beyond honored to attend SXSW Interactive as one of fiveInteractive Scholarship winners this past month. Sarah and I (accompanied by Opportunity Baby) headed down to Austin, Texas to immerse ourselves in technology and introduce a whole new audience to the Opportunity Index.
Strong Women, Strong Girls (SWSG) is a nonprofit organization with an important mission: building communities of women committed to supporting positive social change. To do this, the organization has created a model of mentoring that reinforces confidence, expands aspirations and creates a civically engaged life among three generations: elementary-aged girls, undergraduate women and professional women.