The Power of Showing Up: Hill Day 2015•
By Melanie Anderson and Paul Kendrick
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead
We are so excited that so many outstanding cross-sector leaders are joining us in DC on Thursday for the third National Opportunity Summit focused on the critical issue of youth employment that we decided to start a day early.
Today, 95 of our nation’s leading change-makers – all of whom have a personal commitment to expanding upward mobility for more Americans — will take our message to 70 Members of Congress and their staffs. These Opportunity Leaders, many of whom are young adults, come from every corner of the country and lend their voices, perspectives and talents to the national movement to end youth unemployment and disconnection.
This is Opportunity Nation’s second Hill Day, and is a great chance to share the work of our diverse coalition and inspiring leaders in person with elected officials who can support federal legislation that expands opportunity.
Opportunity Leader Marvin Matthew participated in our first Hill Day in Spring 2013. He is eager to meet again with senators and representatives and their staffs to advocate policy initiatives that can help young Americans embark on meaningful education and career pathways.
“When Megan Smith, the Chief Technology Officer of the United States Government, started her term she said, ‘It’s our country, so if we show up or not, that shapes what our government’s going to be,’ Marvin said. “This is us, showing up.”
Among the policies Opportunity Leaders will advocate today are:
- Reauthorizing ESEA, the nation’s overarching K-12 education law that is in sore need of updating. Opportunity Nation believes that the reauthorized law must support multiple pathways to success for all students and promote cost-effective programs that work.
- Reauthorizing the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to ensure that all students have access to modernized, relevant hands-on and work-based learning experiences.
- Bipartisan criminal justice reform, particularly for juveniles and young adult nonviolent offenders, to give youth convicted of nonviolent crimes a second chance at the American Dream.
- College planning and support to help more low-income and first generation students graduate from high school and continue on to postsecondary education, including college guidance and college savings plans.
Orlando M. White, a political science major at Howard University, says he’s excited to be a part of this year’s Hill Day because he wants to strategically and boldly advocate and push forth policies that address the authentic needs of Americans.
“I recognized at an early age the value of education and in having the opportunities and supports to reach my dreams freely,” Orlando says. “Each child, family and community deserves the same. We are all better, when we are all doing better. Opportunity Nation’s Hill Day provides a critical space of preparation to make effective changes a reality through policy creation and advancement.”
We are so proud of our Opportunity Leaders and their outreach efforts today to their Members of Congress. We hope that this personal contact, combined with the incredible energy and commitment that will emerge from tomorrow’s Summit, will help to effect positive change across the country and prod our elected officials to support legislation that will increase youth employment and engagement.
When our youth do well, we all do well. Thank you Opportunity Leaders for all you do to expand upward mobility in your communities!
Melanie Anderson is the Director of Government Affairs at Opportunity Nation, leading on Opportunity Nation’s bipartisan federal policy efforts that advance the goals of the organization’s Shared Plan.
Paul Kendrick is Opportunity Nation’s Director of Coalition and Grassroots Engagement, working with partner organizations across the country, as well as Opportunity Nation’s Leaders and Scholars, on the campaign to increase opportunity in America.