Media Highlights

Opportunity Nation Lunch and Learn

by Liz Sarley   •  

What’s better than lunch? Talking about opportunity over lunch, of course!

Opportunity Nation’s Senior Advisor Sarah Beaulieu and Paul Kendrick, Director of Coalition and Grassroots Engagement, recently hosted a lunch-and-learn with the Boston fellows of Education Pioneers. Ed Pioneers is a nonprofit that provides a talent pipeline to organizations committed to solving the county’s most critical urban education challenges.

New and existing leaders in the opportunity movement joined the conversation about first jobs (many of which involved scooping ice cream) and the connections required to secure these jobs. They also talked about the Opportunity Index and key levers that can strengthen education and career pathways for youth.  

We heard from several great Opportunity Leaders, including Anthony Britt, an Impact Coach at City Year. Anthony shared his experience as an intern for Be The Change, Inc. in 2011. He participated in the very first National Opportunity Summit. He was inspired to see so many Americans from different sectors – education, philanthropy, politics, and youth advocates – come together to find ways to expand opportunity. He’s been in active in the opportunity movement ever since.

YouthBuild’s Digital Communications Strategist, Tyler Nakatsu, provided insight into the hurtful branding of young people as unskilled and the need to rebrand this generation as an asset to the workforce, rather than a deficit. Tyler believes that accomplishing this shift will require bringing young people to the table and giving them a greater chance to speak for themselves.

Opportunity Leader, Meredith Saxelby, Youth Transitions Coach at JVS Boston (Jewish Vocational Services) spoke about the workforce development agency’s “skills, jobs, and careers” motto. JVS is THE Boston Career Center and provides area appropriate training programs and assists with job placement following program completion.

Opportunity Leader Melissa Horr Pond, who is the Assistant Planner for the City of Quincy, also contributed to the conversation. She shared her experience using the Opportunity Index to create “Opportunity Quincy,” a cross-sector coalition of community leaders from the Greater Quincy, MA area who are dedicated to finding ways to boost the city’s Opportunity Score. Opportunity Quincy has targeted education and career pathways for youth and access to healthy food as two of their priorities.


The percentage of disconnected youth, or young people between 16 and 24 who are neither in school nor working, along with the percentage of people below the poverty line, are the two Opportunity Index indicators with the greatest impact on Opportunity Scores. Our conversation about first jobs demonstrated that networks, social capital and community engagement matter even from the very start. There are currently 5.8 million disconnected youth in the United States. That’s 1 in 7 young people. We need to double down on our efforts to restructure supports, systems and policies so that young people are not left behind in today’s economy.

Interested in becoming an opportunity movement superstar like Anthony, Tyler, Meredith and Melissa? Here are ways to join or become more immersed in the movement:

  1. Sign up for Opportunity Nation’s email list to get the latest and greatest on all things opportunity related
  2. Become an Opportunity Leader and connect your individual or organizational assets to the broader movement by emailing Paul Kendrick
  3. Work with us on passing the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act by emailing us stories of Career and Technical Education’s life-changing impact
  4. Work with us on correctly implementing the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act by emailing us stories of about how you’ve benefited from WIA

Together we can close the Opportunity Gap. Stay in touch!

Liz Sarley

Liz Sarley is Opportunity Nation’s Marketing Strategist. She is responsible for developing high-impact communications for a national audience and marketing strategies for online and event-related initiatives, as well as implementing, tracking and optimizing digital marketing activities across all channels. Read Liz's bio.

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