2013 Opportunity Index Launch Kicks Off
This month, Opportunity Nation and Washington Monthly co-hosted a series of dynamic briefings in Washington DC, Boston and New York. The events brought together leaders from business, education, philanthropy, politics and nonprofits to address the widening Opportunity Gap. While we heard many informative insights, in every city the message was the same: we need more cross-sector collaboration to truly expand opportunity for all.
In Washington, DC, a city usually plagued by partisan politics, Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), who co-sponsored the bipartisan CAREER Act, joined us on Nov. 5 for a briefing on Capitol Hill.
As Phil Buchanan, president of The Center for Effective Philanthropy, said at our Boston event at City Year’s headquarters, “there is no silver bullet” for expanding opportunity. Community leaders from all areas must come together to support civic health and promote economic mobility for all Americans.
At our New York City briefing, Dr. Anne Kress, president of Monroe Community College in Upstate New York, talked about how her institution actively seeks partners to provide students with services her college cannot provide.
One such collaboration with the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection Program yielded powerful results. Recognizing that many low-income students floundered when they arrived at Monroe, Hillside provides one-on-one counseling and support to help these students navigate the college experience. Retention numbers are up, says Kress, and more students are graduating.
Monroe Community College is also working with local banks to help more low-income families start college-savings accounts and reward them for using banks instead of check-cashing storefronts by matching their savings.
Students from Year Up, Per Scholas and other coalition partners shared their stories of opportunity. Alban Tahiraj shared his experience with Per Scholas, a nonprofit that offers free technology and job skills training to underserved students and adults. Lacking motivation and focus, Alban found both when he entered Per Scholas’ IT program, an opportunity that lead to his current job in network security at Avon.
“I found my ambition thanks to Per Scholas,” Alban said.
Thanks to our Launch Host Committee (list below), corporate partner Bank of America for sponsoring the briefings in Boston and New York. And a big thank you, also, to City Year and Akin Gump for hosting us in those cities.
Stay tuned for more news and data online via email, Twitter or Facebook if you haven’t already. Opportunity Nation and our coalition partners will be delving into the key economic, educational and civic factors that contribute to opportunity in the coming months, and we want to share these insights with you.
Thanks for helping to spread the word about the 2013 Opportunity Index. This is an inspiring time for everyone committed to expanding economic mobility and access to the American Dream. With your help, we can increase the momentum toward solutions and progress.
Opportunity Index Launch Host Committee
Sandy Ambrozy, Kresge Foundation
Michael Brown, City Year
Phil Buchanan, Center for Effective Philanthropy
Sandra Edgerley, Edgerley Family Foundation
Alyssa Freedburg, The Advisory Board Company
Gail Gershon, Gap Foundation
Guillermina Hernández-Gallegos, Kresge Foundation
Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard University
Michael Laracy, Annie E. Casey Foundation
Graham McLaughlin, The Advisory Board Company
Hal Shapiro, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer, & Feld LLC
Barney Skladany, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer, & Feld LLC
Kerry Sullivan, Bank of America Foundation
Alicia Verity, Bank of America Foundation