Media Highlights

The Power of Connection

by Marvin Mathew   •  

Opportunity Nation reached out to me recently to ask how Opportunity Leaders are connecting to each other post-Summit and how we can keep the excitement and energy flowing throughout the year.

After all, the National Opportunity Summit is not designed to be a single moment in time, but instead a catalyzing experience that fuels a national opportunity movement. Yet, this dream cannot be realized if we refuse to tap into the incredible talent of our network gifted us – the people around us.

Here I share a few examples of how some of our Opportunity Leaders are trying to take on the charge themselves. I should add that this is by no means exhaustive look; rather it’s me glancing around my circle of veteran Opportunity Leaders and sharing what my friends have done and are doing.

1. Group Chat

Breannah Alexander (ATL-Women Revamped) created a GroupMe Chat for Opportunity Leaders on the first day of the Summit. GroupMe is a messaging technology that allows anyone, with the application, to communicate — think Gchat, but for your phone. Over the course of the two days in DC, we had over a dozen veteran leaders who had been with the campaign from the start participating in the chat.

This allowed us to coordinate plans and logistics seamlessly while at the Summit. It has also given us a continued way to communicate post-summit. I find that our GroupMe chat springs to life in the face of major American events like the protests in Baltimore this spring. We were able to get on-the-ground insights from Opportunity Leader Celia Neustadt (Baltimore-Inner Harbor Project).

Having a singular platform, like GroupMe, facilitates seamless connection and communication without wasting a dime

If you’d like to join our chat or create your own for the wider network, tweet me @Marvin_Mathew or go to GroupMe in your AppStore.

2. Meeting Up In Person

There’s nothing better than seeing someone in person. The nature of our work has many of us moving about and traveling. When we are traveling to cities where Opportunity Leaders live and work, we try and connect. Just last month I went to Philadelphia and while I was there I got to sync up with Patrick Edouard (PA- PowerWorks). While I was with Patrick I got to see Philadelphia from new light and learned a lot about opportunity in the city and the work that Patrick’s doing to help move that forward. Spending some time with Patrick, we discovered a lot of synergy in our interests and goals both professionally and for our community. Patrick’s already invited me back down for an event where I can meet like-minded young professionals and another community to thrive in.

Later this year some of the Opportunity Leaders will head out to Los Angeles for an equity summit that Orlando White (CA-LinkedIn) shared on our GroupMe.

Create a meet up in your own city. Get together for drinks or a concert with a few leaders around you. Do something fun and creative. is a great tool to facilitate logistics, but Facebook Events is just as good.

3. Support each other 

Our work as social entrepreneurs and change-agents is challenging. So if you can’t give time, give value. Many Opportunity Leaders are founders or leaders in resource-strapped organizations — they need connections to resources, advisers and tools.

Don’t forget those of us who are in for-profit groups trying to make a difference. Someone like Sam Novey, working with TurboVote to streamline the voting process, also needs support. I myself am trying to figure out how business organizations can play a more serious role in civic and social solutions within the business model and want to meet people that have already worked on this within their company.

Everyone who is working to solve a problem or accomplish a goal can use help, mentorship and insights. I know that you have that, just because you were invited to be here, a part of Opportunity Nation.

Here are some examples of how to help:

  • Make one beneficial connection or introduction to a leader or coalition member in the network
  • Connect somebody outside of the network to someone inside that can use their support
  • Guest Blog for an Opportunity Leader or Coalition member whose work you care about. Help generate traffic.
  • Share information about a relevant conference
  • Tweet at leaders in the network. Just say Hi. Let them know you see them.

Each person in the Opportunity Nation network, regardless of affiliation or sector, is giving a lot to make their community and their country a brighter place.

Reach out to one Opportunity Nation friend that you made during the Summit, once a month.

Kick off your conversations with “How can I help you?”  Start today.

4. A Seat at the Table

As we grow as a leaders network, we must also work towards a closer collaboration with Opportunity Nation’s Coalition, Leadership Council and sponsor organizations. This is vital to achieve our stated goals: to expand economic mobility for more Americans, particularly youth, and to restore the American Dream.

Gatherings, such as the National Opportunity Summit, are meaningful opportunities to put leaders in the same room as coalition partner leadership, both industry and not-for-profit groups. Meeting jointly to share thoughts and ideas gives young people a legitimate seat at the strategy and planning table.

Our leaders are excited about such opportunities to scale their ongoing efforts for change. It is in such spirit that this video was created, to express our voice and brainstorm ways to work more closely with the rest of the network.

Legitimate and sustainable change comes from connection, collaboration and creation. I would very much like to do much more with Opportunity Nation and the impressive folks that have committed themselves to a better America through ON.

So, let’s get started. How can I help you?

P.S. Give me a shout when in New York City! My home is always open to you.

Marvin Mathew

Active in startups, Marvin supports early stage entrepreneurs and ventures. He cares deeply about innovation and technology — particularly its application for impact. Marvin actively seeks opportunities to bring the tech and business community closer to civic and social solutions.

Marvin is a member of our inaugural cohort of Opportunity Leaders since 2011. Connect with him at @marvin_mathew.

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