Opportunity Nation Works to Expand Opportunity for All Americans

Opportunity Nation Says The Next President Can Do These 12 Things To Close Gap

Executive Director Monique Rizer with BeTheChange CEO Alan Khazei and Deval Patrick, former governor of Massachusetts (Image: Shannon Finney Photography)

Whoever the next president is, Opportunity Nation has developed a list of priorities to help expand opportunity to all Americans.

The bipartisan, national nonprofit comprises more than 350 cross-sector organizations that work together to expand economic mobility and close opportunity gaps.

[Related: 14 Economic Facts Impacting Our Kids’ Education]

Here are the 12 actions the organization would like to see the next president of the United States take in order to increase opportunity for all:

  1. Establish the White House Office of Opportunity
  2. Update career and technical education
  3. Incentivize employers to hire and train youth
  4. Encourage cross-sector collaboration
  5. Provide comprehensive program design and wrap-around support services
  6. Advance juvenile and criminal justice reform
  7. Expand access to high-quality early childhood education program for low- and moderate-income families
  8. Improve affordability, quality, and financial aid access in postsecondary education
  9. Support college savings plans for low-income children
  10. Expand and make permanent the earned income tax credit
  11. Accelerate access to high-speed Internet
  12. Strengthen civic engagement in communities

Black Enterprise recently discussed the 12 action items with Monique Rizer, executive director of Opportunity Nation.

Why did Opportunity Nation develop these 12 actions for the next president?

We represent 350 community-based organizations, community college leaders, and private sector leaders who are all committed to the idea of expanding opportunity. We have a particular focus on developing career and educational pathways grounded in data for young adults.

We created this list with our coalition. We want to leverage the power of the bully pulpit of the president–to talk about these issues in a way that we haven’t in the past, particularly in a bipartisan context.

Primarily, we approach this work through the frame of our Opportunity Index, which we established five years ago. It’s 16 different indicators that create a multidimensional look at opportunity. We found that looking at traditional measures of poverty and unemployment doesn’t tell the whole story of how people access opportunity in their communities.

A lot of things create an environment of opportunity–such as access to affordable housing, access to healthy food, personal safety in their neighborhoods, being civically engaged. Are people building their social capital? What is the educational attainment of a community–from preschool to postsecondary?

We took all these indicators and created a composite score. It’s a great tool that anyone can use to find out what opportunity looks like in their community. We found strong correlations between the rate of disconnected youth 16—24 and a lack of opportunity. When young people do well, communities do well.

For more about Opportunity Nation’s presidential plan, go to its website.