State’s Role in Restoring the American Dream

Successfully turning on the engine of economic mobility will require input and investments from every corner of our society.

It’s why we are forging hundreds of cross-sector partnerships, and it’s also why we are looking to engage governors in our nation’s critical conversation around rebuilding the ladder of opportunity. We know that states are often on the front lines of policy innovation and social change, and that couldn’t be more important than when it comes to addressing the issues of economic opportunity and mobility. For example, when I was in Iowa a few weeks ago meeting with Republican Governor Terry Branstad, he discussed our country’s need to link career training with the kinds of jobs that are available. He felt that he could place 1,000 welders tomorrow – they have 240,000 unemployed people and have 105,000 job openings today.

We know this story is not an anomaly, and we want to work with leaders such as Governor Branstad and others to change this. We are excited that Governor Branstad already started to take action to underscore the centrality of these issues, and we look forward to working with him and others to identify ways to increase opportunity across America.

In fact, to continue this momentum I traveled to Washington D.C. last weekend to attend a gathering with the National Governors Association. I was inspired by several of the governors’ commitment to increasing economic mobility in their states, and was thrilled to hear that several conversations were focused on issues of opportunity.

For example, when President Obama addressed the governors he emphasized the critical role that investments in education will play in our economy’s future. “No issue will have a bigger impact on the future performance of our economy than education. …[And] when I speak about higher education, we’re not just talking about a four-year degree.” He continued, “[Education is] an economic imperative that every family in America has to be able to afford and, and frankly I don’t think any of this should be a partisan issue. …All of us should be about giving every American who wants to succeed that chance.”

States can and must play a central role in restoring the American Dream. This is not only because they can have an enormous impact, but also because they are closest to the issues and can lift up legislative and non-legislative initiatives that work. I am excited for the opportunity to forge key partnerships that will allow us to identify local examples of real success, and elevate these important models so that they can become a part of the national dialogue.

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