Media Highlights

The Opportunity Summit was an #OpportunityMoment

by Will Staton   •  

I had the pleasure of attending the Opportunity Summit in Washington on Feb. 25-26 hosted by Opportunity Nation. I arrived feeling excited, but with few expectations as I had not previously attended any Opportunity Nation events or connected with the organization in meaningful ways.  

What I found was a large, passionate and talented group of individuals, all of whom possessed exciting and powerful ideas and a personal commitment to fixing the inequity that threatens to strangle our nation and truly make America a country of equal access to opportunity.

As early as Wednesday morning, as I prepared to meet with the staff of Sen. Gillibrand’s office as part of Opportunity Nation’s Hill Day, I had already met (among many others) a college senior who had created her own Adversity Index; a first year NYU law student from Kentucky who volunteered time advocating on behalf of children who had been suspended from school for excessive periods of time; and a woman who had returned to school to get her PhD and now helps connect employers with nonprofits and schools so that students can look for internships and other opportunities. To hear these Opportunity Leaders tell their stories, and lobby on Capitol Hill for changes that would create opportunities for others, was empowering and inspiring. 

I was not the only one feeling that way. Thursday, the day of the Summit, featured an array of powerful speakers, one of whom, Eduardo Padron, serves as president of the nation’s largest community college, Miami Dade College in Florida. Mr. Padron’s opening line was about how much he enjoys attending the National Opportunity Summit each year because he finds it inspiring to be surrounded by such engaged young people striving to make our country better. 

As I left the two-day series of events, I felt refreshed and energized. I have a new network of potential partners as well as some new friends. I am excited to keep pursuing my own work to make America a place where the zip code where you are born does not determine how far you go in life. I am also eager to explore innovative initiatives, learn from recently-forged connections, and contribute to new endeavors.

Leading up to the summit, Opportunity Nation encouraged us to tweet about an #OpportunityMoment in our lives that had helped us become successful. Turns out, attending the summit was just such a moment for everyone who was there. 

Will Staton

Will is assistant director of recruitment at Democracy Prep Public Schools, a network of charter schools operating in New York City, Camden, NJ and Washington DC.  A native of Mississippi, Will taught history in Memphis, Tenn. with Teach for America after he graduated from Washington University in St. Louis. You can follow him on Twitter: @wstaton85

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