Telling the Opportunity Story
By working collaboratively with other organizations across a breadth of social justice issues and integrating strategic communications with advocacy and research, The Opportunity Agenda is telling a new story to the American people—a story that's moving hearts, minds, and policy toward greater social justice. This section showcases some of our work.
A Human Right to Health in Montana
The Opportunity Agenda’s opinion research was used in the Montana Legislature’s recent hearings on the human right to health in that state. You can find a recording of the hearing here (mp3). Pioneering Montana lawmakers and advocates, along with our partner the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, are at the forefront of the effort to establish health care as a domestic human right consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As part of our US Human Rights Initiative, The Opportunity Agenda is providing opinion research, communications tools, advocate training, and policy ideas to advance this goal. You can access these tools from this page on our website.
Thinking Big: Progressive Ideas for a New Era
Thinking Big is a collection of essays presenting a broad and ambitious agenda for the new administration. The inauguration of President Obama represents the beginning of a new era in American politics, based on a bold new progressive vision for this country—Thinking Big offers an agenda for this new era, crafted by some of the brightest thinkers working for social and economic justice today. Incorporating the ideas of such esteemed contributors as Van Jones, Andrea Batista Schlesinger, and our very own Alan Jenkins, the book is available now. Visit www.ThinkingBigtheBook.com to learn more.
Working for Immigrant Rights
Although most Americans favor immigration, discussions around the issue have grown contentious and divisive. Though small in numbers, the anti-immigration movement has successfully controlled the public discourse, and consequently thwarted positive solutions. Media research shows that while immigration opponents have been disciplined in their core messages, no similarly coherent or compelling story about integrating immigrants into the fabric of society has broken into the media discourse. Read more about our work on this issue.
Promoting Health Care Opportunity in New York
Years of disinvestment have left some neighborhoods in New York, particularly low-income communities of color, dangerously underserved by health services. And the health of residents in these areas is demonstrably worse than those in better-served, more affluent parts of the city. Many advocates and health care providers were therefore concerned when the Governor formed a commission charged with downsizing hospitals throughout the state. They were particularly troubled that the commission’s process left little room for community input, or addressed concerns about disparities and underserved areas. They mobilized to educate the public and policymakers about the mismatch between services and community needs, and to encourage community input. In doing so, they realized the need for an engaging way to tell the story of inequalities. Read about some of our work on this issue.
Harnessing New Technologies to Promote Opportunity
Although research supports investment in community-level solutions to expand health opportunity, this approach has proven difficult to explain to the media, policymakers and the public. Instead, discussions tend to focus solely on how individual decisions affect the health problems people face. Advocates, researchers, and others who champion health opportunity need ways to illuminate how investment in public systems and structures influences health. Read about one example of our work mapping.
Elevating Social Justice Values in an Election Year
Over the past three decades, political discussions have focused on themes of extreme individualism, blaming social ills on individual decisions instead of highlighting our shared fate. The resulting policies have led to a fractured health care system, growing gaps between the rich and poor, and dwindling investment in education, human rights protections, and other programs that protect and expand opportunity. Meanwhile, those working for social justice have lacked a cohesive way to counter this dominant theme, instead fracturing into issue-specific messages that fail to inspire the public. Read more about some work we did this past election year.
Understanding and Influencing Public Opinion
Attempts to promote and protect human rights in the United States have suffered from the absence of a “human rights culture” in our public discourse and policymaking. Though most Americans believe in the concept of human rights, few are familiar with international principles or their implications for domestic social problems. Lawmakers lack knowledge about human rights and feel little public pressure to fulfill our country’s obligations. A small, but growing, U.S. human rights movement has begun to put these issues on the map, but has had little information on public attitudes or how to influence them. Read more about our approach addressing this issue.
Using Current Events to Shape Public Dialogue
Barriers to equality and diversity in our education system continue to mount, and experts tell us that racial segregation and isolation cannot be overcome without making integration an explicit goal in educational policymaking. In 2007, the Supreme Court took up this issue, hearing two cases regarding the ability of school districts to employ voluntary integration programs. The Court handed down a complex and mixed decision that educational policymakers could have interpreted in many ways. It was therefore imperative for advocates to react with a coherent story that protected equal opportunity and diversity. Read more about our work in this area.