Expanding opportunity for all requires not only laws prohibiting discrimination but also robust enforcement and proactive efforts to give all communities access to the American Dream. The Opportunity Agenda works to promote equal opportunity policies that embody those principles. Our activities include research on barriers, solutions, and public attitudes; communications efforts to inform policy debates; and promotion of best practices around the country.

Recent results of our work include groundbreaking health equity legislation in Connecticut, preservation of vital equal opportunity policies in Colorado, our widely-referenced State of Opportunity in America report, and our book, All Things Being Equal: Instigating Opportunity in an Inequitable Time.

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Research Report: The State of Opportunity Report (2009)

This is the 2009 State of Opportunity report.  Here you may download the final report, the final report with accompanying charts, a synopsis, and each of the indicators individually.

Read more about the report here.

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Page Economic Opportunity

The current economic crisis has highlighted once again our interconnectedness as a nation and as a people—the fact that we’re all in this together in seeking economic security and opportunity. Economic recovery policies offer a chance to ensure that our most vulnerable and historically overlooked groups and communities are included in any recovery plans. It is up to all of us to ensure that these investments help all Americans by calling for appropriate implementation and monitoring of funds. The Opportunity Agenda has created a series of tools for advocates and policymakers to use as they advocate for equal opportunity in the economic recovery process.

Law and Policy Brief of The Opportunity Agenda as Amicus Curiae in Ricci v. DeStefano (2009)

The Opportunity Agenda filed an amicus brief  with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Ricci v. DeStefano.  In this case, the City of New Haven, CT, declined to certify the results of a firefighter promotion test based on evidence that the test was discriminatory in its operation, and fairer and more effective tests were available.  Firefighters who scored highly on the flawed test sued the city, claiming that throwing out the test discriminated against them based on their race.

Communications Talking Points: Ten Lessons for Talking About Racial Equity in the Age of Obama (2010)

RaceInAgeofObama.pngExperience from around the country shows that discussing racial inequity and promoting racial justice are particularly challenging today. Some Americans have long been skeptical about the continued existence of racial discrimination and unequal opportunity. But with the historic election of an African American president, that skepticism is more widespread and more vocal than ever.

Communications Talking Points: The State of Opportunity Report (2009)

This memo offers guidance for using the 2009 State of Opportunity in America report, which examines various dimensions of opportunity, including health care, wealth and income, education, and incarceration. While expanding opportunity in America remains a goal of policymakers and advocates alike, this report finds that access to full and equal opportunity is still very much a mixed reality. Our recommendations to address this reality offer concrete ideas for moving us forward together.

Communications Talking Points: Expanding Opportunity in Colorado (2008)

These talking points offer communications advice for educating audiences about the importance of equal opportunity policies.  It integrates recent opinion research, media trends, social science literature, and experience from the field to offer promising themes and messages.

Communications Talking Points: Expanding Opportunity For All - CERD (2008)

These talking points provide advice on talking with journalists and other general audiences about US compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Video Alan Jenkins on MSNBC Discussing the Economy

Alan Jenkins, executive director of The Opportunity Agenda, appears on MSNBC to discuss the economy and our new report, The State of Opportunity in America.

Video Video: Brian Talks About Equality

 A well-established African American contractor talks about how, even in his success, he still confronts bias.  We are reminded that equality must be protected if we are truly a land of opportunity.

Research Fact Sheet - Ensuring Equal Opportunity in the Economic Recovery (2009)

When it comes to ensuring that the economic stimulus and recovery process promotes equal opportunity for all communities, the law is strong, but it is up to communities to uphold and enforce that law.

Research Book: All Things Being Equal (2007)

1695.cover__1.jpgThe Opportunity Agenda's first book, All Things Being Equal, documents critical ideas about the state of opportunity. 

Research Report: The State of Opportunity Update (2007)

This is the 2007 update to the State of Opportunity report.  There are two files, the full chart of indicators and a summary.

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Research Report: Home Ownership and Wealth Building Impeded (2006)

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Research Report: State of Opportunity (2006)

SoO2006_0.pngIf the promise of opportunity is a core national commitment, it is essential to measure our success in fulfilling that commitment.  This report assesses the nation’s progress toward protecting and expanding opportunity for all Americans and encourages our policymakers, through bold leadership and innovative policies, to ensure the promise of o

Research Brochure: About The Opportunity Agenda (2008)

Read about The Opportunity Agenda in our new brochure.

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Page Top Public Opinion Insights To Begin The New Year


Photo courtesy of Flickr/kelly88ros

By Jhanidya Bermeo 

Page Jim Carr on CNN.com: Spending cut. Now, GOP, where are the jobs?

Home Opportunity homepage

This article originally appeared on CNN.com 

It's official: Deep cuts in federal spending are under way, $85 billion over the next seven months. The question we should all be asking soon is: Where are the jobs?

Page Messages for Supreme Court Case on Affirmative Action Fisher v. University of Texas

Download memo here (PDF)

Read this document via Scribd.

Page Public Opinion Monthly (March 2012)

Public Opinion Monthly: Equal Opportunity and the Role of Government

By: Jill Mizell

Page Dream of a Nation

The promise of a better tomorrow is a cornerstone of the American Dream. The belief that our children should inherit a world that is safer, cleaner, and more equitable is a bedrock fundamental. Recently, however, that hope has dimmed; an increasing number of Americans are finding only obstacles where there should be opportunities to succeed and thrive.

Page Compact for Home Opportunity

Back to Home Opportunity homepage

Compact for Home Opportunity 

What America Can Do to Stop Foreclosures and Fulfill the American Dream

Download the full report
Download the Compact for Home Opportunity Graph

Page Literature Review: Media Representations and Impact on the Lives of Black Men and Boys

This social science literature review focuses on the question of how media, and communications more broadly, affect outcomes for black men and boys in American society. The summary is intended to offer communicators — who come to the review with a wide range of backgrounds and depth of knowledge on the topic — a digestible overview of an extremely rich and varied body of research. It reviews a significant set of materials, representing many of the key approaches and themes that characterize the scholarship as a whole.

Page Media Market Research: Media Consumption Trends Among Black Men

This study analyzed African-American men’s media consumption habits. It investigates a wide range of national and regional media platforms to provide insights into how African-American men consume media. It identified which media sources are likely to have the greatest impact on the thinking and attitudes of this segment of the American population and offers a series of recommendations about where interventions may be most fruitful.

Page Public Opinion Research Related to Black Male Achievement

This analysis provides an overview of some central themes emerging from public opinion research regarding understandings of black male achievement, awareness of racial disparities, and the causes of and responsibility for addressing them. It is intended to offer communicators a synthesis of key ideas that exist in public understanding that can either derail the conversation or move it forward.

Page Media Images and Public Opinion on Black Men and Boys

Media Images and Public Opinion on Black Men and Boys 

READ ALSO: A Moment of Opportunity - Transforming the Criminal Justice System 

Images of black men and boys in the media overall are a distortion of reality in a variety of ways, as extensive audits conducted by scholars and researchers over the years show.

Page Supporting Occupy Wall Street


Learn more: Gan Golan and Occupy Halloween On the News

Thirteen Things America Can Do to Stop Foreclosures and Fulfill the American Dream

Access to an affordable home under fair and sustainable terms is crucial to our economic security and central to the American Dream. But misconduct by banks and lenders, inadequate rules and enforcement, and record unemployment rates are robbing millions of Americans of their homes and security while ravaging whole communities and holding back our national recovery.

Page Breaking Through the Clutter: Tips for Talking to the Mainstream Media About Economic Opportunity and Inequality in America

Download this document (PDF)

The mainstream media is a frustrating, but necessary, means of getting our ideas out to people who might support and join us. Here are a few ideas for getting beyond the distortions and clutter to reach everyday Americans:

Page Public Opinion Monthly (July 2011)

Economic Opportunity, Human Rights, and the Role of Government

By: Jill Mizell

July 27, 2011

Page Public Opinion Monthly (September 2010)

Public Support for Policies for Equal Recovery and Opportunity

Looking at the road ahead, Public Opinion Monthly reviewed public support for policies, which promote equal opportunity for more communities in our society.

By Eleni Delimpaltadaki

Page Public Opinion Monthly (April 2010)

Keeping the American Dream in 2010 Alive. With or without government intervention? Public Opinion and Facts.

The American dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement—James Truslow Adams.

Page Holding Recipients of Stimulus Funds Accountable

On February 17, 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was signed into law, launching an unprecedented public investment in economic recovery—$787 billion. Clearly, an investment of this size should reflect and promote our shared American belief in equality.

Page Public Opinion Monthly (November 2009)

November Roundup:

Suspects of Terrorism and Due Process
Race in the Age of Obama

This month’s insight into the public mind is on rights for suspects of terrorism and due process, and racial attitudes in the age of Obama, a topic which we will continue to track and analyze here over time.

Communications Talking About Proposals to Change the 14th Amendment

On January 5, 2011, a group of state lawmakers and political operatives from Georgia and a few other states unveiled a scheme to attack an important constitutional freedom: the American Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Passed after the Civil War, the Clause guarantees that children who are born in America are American citizens. But these operatives would eliminate that constitutional guarantee, in a misguided attempt to address immigration.

Blog Post Measuring What Matters

We measure a lot of stuff in our society—stuff like gasoline prices, Hollywood box office numbers and, Heaven help us, Kim Kardashian’s Twitter followers (there are 20.7 million, in case you’re wondering). But it’s rare that we try to measure our progress in achieving the American ideal of opportunity, especially when it comes to our nation’s young people.

Blog Post A Tale of Two Covers


So these two magazines arrived at my house over the weekend. The juxtaposition is amazing. The new issue of The Atlantic touts a cover story on "The Future of Work," which it illustrates with a photo of three white guys in business suits standing over a woman who's dutifully typing at a laptop. In other words, the "future" of work, as this cover imagines it, looks a lot like the 1950s--laptop notwithstanding.

Contrast that with the December 2013 cover of Fast Company, which features "Secrets of the Most Productive People" and depicts musician, producer and burgeoning business mogul Pharrell Williams.

Blog Post DeMarco Must Go


Edward DeMarco (above) at a lecture at Vanderbilt University 

This article appeared originally at ourfuture.org

It’s time for President Obama to fire and quickly replace the Acting Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Edward DeMarco, with a Director who will uphold the Agency’s mission to “support housing finance and affordable housing, and support a stable and liquid mortgage market.” DeMarco, a holdover from the Bush administration, is interim head of the FHFA, which currently oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Blog Post Changing Stereotypes in Wake of Tragedy


The Opportunity Agenda hosted the panel "Learning from Trayvon." Photo courtesy of Ivy Ashe/The Vineyard Gazette

By Katie Ruppel  

Read original article here (PDF)

Music videos, movies, the Internet and the news have embedded the stereotypes of African American men as dangerous and violent in society, said the chairman and CEO of BET Networks, Debra Lee, at a forum on Friday afternoon.

“If we look at media in general and live off of what the mass media serves up about black men, you might arrive on the Vineyard in particular and think you are on another planet,” Mrs. Lee said in her opening remarks. “What do I mean by that? On the Vineyard you see black fathers with their children and their wives. And wait for it... they have jobs. This is not the impression that you get from media day-to-day in America.”

Blog Post Opportunity Impact Statement: Ensuring an Economy that Works

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Americans prioritize finding solutions for our economy and job creation, and it is clear that we need an economy that works for all of us. This means building the jobs and the infrastructure that will create equal opportunities for success for all Americans. In order to make smart and necessary decisions about how and where we spend our money, we need to evaluate the impact of spending, while also honoring our commitment to avoid engaging in discrimination.

Blog Post Protecting Fair Lending Is Key To Our Economic Recovery

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Most Americans correctly understand that the economic meltdown was caused by a perfect storm of misconduct in the lending and financial industries and inadequate rules and enforcement.  A 2010 Pew Financial Reform Project poll, for example, found that American likely voters overwhelmingly blamed banks for making unsustainable mortgages (42%) and too little regulation of Wall Street (24%) for the crisis.

Fewer are aware, however, of the role that racial bias and discrimination by lenders and brokers played in creating the crisis.  Understanding that role and the tools available to correct it is key to ensuring our nation's full economic recovery.

Blog Post Poverty, Opportunity, and the 2012 Presidential Election

 A recent forum in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, provided an in-depth discussion into the level of concern in the United States about poverty and opportunity, particularly concerning children. Spotlight on Poverty also looked at whether or not these issues will be factors in the upcoming presidential election. Overall, people believe strongly that equal opportunity for children of all races is very important; that not all children currently have full access to opportunity; and that presidential candidates’ views on poverty are very important. But, many think that neither the candidates nor the media are discussing poverty enough.

Blog Post Public Opinion Roundup: Equal Opportunity and Fairness

 Year after year, equal opportunity and fairness are critically important values on the minds of Americans. Surveys find a collective desire for greater economic equality, greater government involvement in employment and opportunity, and a more widespread distribution of wealth, but people don’t think that these values are reflected in the current economy.  For example, a November 2011 poll found that just over half of Americans said that a major problem in the U.S. is that “everyone does not have an equal chance in life.” The same number agreed with this statement in September 2010. More than two of three Democrats and one in two Independents agreed, but more than half of Republicans disagreed. 

 

Blog Post December 6: National Day of Action

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Photo by Quint Cobb

Access to an affordable home under fair and sustainable terms is crucial to our economic security and central to the American Dream. But misconduct by banks and lenders, inadequate rules and enforcement, and record unemployment rates are robbing millions of Americans of their homes and security while ravaging whole communities and holding back our national recovery.

Blog Post Immigration Blog Round Up, November 7

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Photo by ElvertBarnes

Following in the steps of Arizona, Georgia, Utah and Indiana, Alabama has joined the campaign of attrition against undocumented immigrants by implementing a new anti-immigrant law, HB 56.  While the law is similar to its counterparts – Arizona SB 1070 and Georgia HB 87, to name a few- it’s more restrictive. For example, it requires schools to check the immigration status of children and their parents. Since its enactment, the law has ignited fear, panic, and disruptions in the everyday lives of Latino communities, including U.S. citizens.  A significant number of Latino students have not been showing up to school, employees are not reporting to work, and homes have suddenly become uninhabited.

Blog Post Heeding the Voice of the 99 Percent

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Photo by david_shankbone

When a group of young people camped out in Zuccotti Park near Wall Street in mid-September to express their disappointment toward the way corporations have mishandled the economy, it barely made the local newspapers’ front pages. Four weeks later, and with hundreds of thousands of people joining the movement, Occupy Wall Street has captured the attention of national and international media, and it has provided a golden opportunity for lawmakers, intellectuals, unions, and President Obama to channel the participants’ efforts into their agenda.

Blog Post Building Community Through Equitable Access To Financial Services, Part 1: Banking In Immigrant Communities

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Photo by The Urban Snapper

I worked for several years as a Sous Chef at a well known Brooklyn restaurant. During the Black Out of 2003, three of the porters (from the Mexican state of Michoacán) stayed well into the night to help clean and put perishables on ice by candle light. Toward the wee hours, as we wrapped up, I offered to write them checks for all their help, but they didn’t have bank accounts. I was new to the city, and balked at how a person could function without a checking account. But they were not alone. Ensuring fair access to financial services for immigrants - including depository banking and loan lending (in particular mortgage lending) - is key not only to our economic recovery, but also to the well-being and stability of all of our communities. Limiting or discouraging access to mainstream banking services hurts all communities regardless of income.

Blog Post A Congratulatory Note to Our New Grads (With a Caveat)
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 Photo by Will Folsom

My niece—who is pursuing a degree in psychology—asked me last Sunday to review her essay on the American Dream for one of her English courses. Her essay began explaining what the “American Dream” ought to be: economic mobility, home ownership, and better education. But the remaining two pages offered a gloomy viewpoint: the American Dream has become more and more elusive for her.

Blog Post Social Media, Opportunity, and Time 100

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Photo by Philippe Martin

Most recently, Time magazine revealed yet another list of the world’s most influential people in the world, and this time Wael Ghonim, a Google executive from Egypt, is at the helm of this selected group thanks to his active participation during the revolts against the Hosni Mubarak regime by way of social media tools—primarily Facebook. What’s more, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made the cut for this list (his second mention in a row on this publication after being selected “Person of the Year” in 2010). Finally, Google’s CEO Larry Page was also included.

Blog Post Bi-Weekly Public Opinion Round Up - International Women's Day

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Mothers march on 100th anniversary of International Women's Day in San Francisco
photo  by Steve Rhodes

ON 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY, WOMEN STILL STRUGGLE FOR EQUALITY

 

Blog Post Bi-Weekly Public Opinion Round Up - Marriage Equality

 

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 Photo by Fritz Liess

GROWING SUPPORT FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY


 Obama Administration Announces It Will No Longer Defend the Defense of Marriage Act

Blog Post 30 Years of Treading Water Leaves You Awfully Tired

For those of us who can still even stomach it, the first Friday of the month—the usual day for the release of the previous month’s federal Employment Situation Summary, known informally as the jobs report—has become a fairly pathetic ritual, particularly for optimists.  We hope for some proof, any proof, that a real recovery is underway.  If jobs were shed across the board, but the unemployment rate trended lightly downward, we try to pretend that it wasn’t because still more people have pulled themselves out of the formal count by giving up looking for work entirely.  If private sector job growth and public sector job loss cancel each other out, we put on our market fundamentalist wishful thinking caps and talk about how private sector jobs are somehow more sustainable than their public sector equivalents.  And when modest job growth does occur, even when it’s below even the basic replacement rate needed to accommodate a growing workforce, well, that’s when we bring out the champagne.

Blog Post New Challenges, New Solutions

It’s in all of our interest to define common-sense solutions to jump-start our economic recovery and to push for innovative ideas that leave aside partisan politics.

Blog Post America Lags Behind on Equal Rights for LGBT Community

While Americans grappled over the military’s contentious “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in court last week, the Argentine Senate passed a bill last Thursday legalizing gay marriage and allowing same-sex couples to adopt children.

Blog Post Beware the Easy Answer

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about the state of affairs in America. His assessment was as follows: America never goes too far one way or too far the other. It’s like a sine wave; sometimes one side is up for a little while and the other side is down, then they switch. Despite this yo-yo phenomenon, overall he felt like things were improving.

Blog Post It’s Called a Safety Net for a Reason

In May, 431,000 new jobs were added to the economy.  On the surface, this seems like good news.  However, 411,000 of those jobs were temporary Census workers.  Private employers added 41,000 new jobs to the economy.  These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg in a changed employment landscape.

Blog Post Rallies for the DREAM Act Continue Across the Nation

Activists for the immigration reform DREAM Act are preparing a rally tomorrow in Harrisonburg, Virginia that they hope will raise attention and support from Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. Virginia’s other Democratic senator, Jim Webb, is a known advocate of the Act, and voted in favor of it in 2007.

Blog Post What is a Recovery Without Widespread Job Growth?

At a time like this, even modest, and potentially temporary, declines in the unemployment rate deserve a round of applause.  Well, unless the decline in the unemployment rate only brings it back to where it was for the first three months of the year.  And unless the rate remains significantly higher for people who had been stranded furthest from opportunity even before the recession.  So, maybe a golf clap?

Blog Post Women Hold Up Half the Sky

In light of International Women’s Day and the 54th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, on Tuesday, March 9th, the Urban Agenda’s Human Rights Project, The National Council on Research for Women and the Center for Women’s Global Leadership joined together with The Opportunity Agenda to hold a side event at the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

Blog Post A Government that Reflects America's Values

According to a 2007 poll, Americans define human rights as the rights to equal opportunity, freedom from discrimination, a fair criminal justice system, and freedom from torture or abuse by law enforcement. Despite the current political wrangling over how to reform it, a majority of Americans even believe that access to health care is a human right.

Blog Post A Crisis for America

Across the country, our youth – the future of our country – took to the streets today. Protestors closed college campuses and secondary schools in a national day to defend the current state of public education. With rising tuition costs, budget cuts, increased layoffs and growing class sizes, parents, students and concerned citizens are trying to get their voices heard in the education crisis.

Blog Post Bi-Weekly Public Opinion Roundup

Bi-Weekly Public Opinion Roundup

The upcoming November elections draw near, both Democrats and Republicans are in an election state of mind. Both parties are focusing on trying to appease their voter base, while Obama and his administration push forward to make due on some promises such as health care reform and the repeal of the ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ military policy.

Blog Post The Disparate Impact of the Downturn

While it is a deeply-held American belief that we’re all in this together, there has long been a truism that when the economy gets a cold, the poor get pneumonia. It’s a glib way of noting that any downturn in the economy has a disparate impact on those least prepared to handle it.

Blog Post Equality Disparities in Tech Firms?

As seen in the chart below, that's been making the rounds, the stimulus is working. The Obama Administration, using numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is touting that the number of jobs lost is lessening.

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Blog Post Looking Ahead

Exactly one year ago our nation, and much of this world, was in a state of panic and turmoil. Companies and industries were shedding jobs faster than we could count. The stock market was tanking in front of our eyes. Waking up every morning to look at the headlines of the newspaper was a daunting task in fear of what a new day could bring to the American people. We needed a lifeline.

Blog Post Race in the Age of Obama and the Economic Recovery

With an African-American President leading our country, do we still need to think about and create solutions for historic barriers to opportunity? The answer? Absolutely.

Blog Post Talking Race at the Tea Party Convention

At the National Tea Party Convention, former Rep. Tom Tancredo decried "the cult of multiculturalism," and argued that President Obama was elected because "we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country."

Blog Post Long Overdue

In last week’s State of the Union Address, President Obama took a pivotal step towards repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Approximately 16 years later, this repeal is far overdue.

Blog Post Corporate Cash Breeds Inequality

When the founding fathers gathered to declare independence, they were responding to consolidated power in the form of the monarchy and the church.  The system that they designed to govern the United States was intentionally complex and diffuse, with checks and balances in place to prevent any single individual or group from exerting undue influence over the process.  This past Thursday, with their ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court violated these intentions, enhancing the influence of a small handful of very powerful institutions and providing them with the tools to crowd out diverse voices.

Blog Post Talking About Racial Equity in the Age of Obama

A unique challenge faces advocates for meaningful dialogue on racial inequality and injustice in America. As people of color have made even modest gains in education, economic security, and professional opportunities over the past few decades, some Americans have increasingly insisted that racial discrimination is largely a thing of the past. Today that sentiment is more widespread and vocal than ever, just a few days after what would have been Dr.

Blog Post The Opportunity Agenda Cited in Newsweek

In a column for Newsweek, Ellis Cose details a new U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report outlining the dismantling of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice by the Bush administration.

Blog Post Racial Segregation in U.S. Schools: Illinois Terminates Chicago’s Desegregation Decree

All people should have the opportunity to succeed in life, regardless of their race. But a recent Illinois district court decision jeopardizes that possibility.

Blog Post The Future with a Green Economy

While we are making significant strides in leveraging our economy – and our country – out of a very difficult time period for millions of people, we need to be cognizant of how we do so. As new stimulus-funded opportunities take shape, communities and groups who are traditionally marginalized, historically overlooked, and most affected by the recession deserve priority in seizing these opportunities. However, it is up to us to ensure that the recovery makes investments that are equitable, transparent, and fair.

Blog Post Possible Internet Regulations Threaten Opportunity

As reported Oct. 22 on NPR, current efforts by telecom providers threaten access to information and applications on the Internet. Possible changes by the Federal Communications Commission highlight these efforts, which pertain to what power internet service providers have in restricting access that conflicts with their own interest.

Blog Post Investing in our Future

The U.S. economy is lurching towards recovery.  We continue to see nearly as many disheartening indicators as we do reasons to be optimistic, but it does appear that the worst is behind us. Even if the freefall is over, though, the question of whether or not we will return to pre-crisis levels of inequality, or emerge as a nation with a robust economy that is able to create economic security and mobility for all, has yet to be answered.

Blog Post The Big Picture: Health, Justice, and Abortion

As the United States government prepares for further personnel shifts in the administration, Americans are anxious to know the nominees' priorities. How refreshing, then, to see health and justice for the American people trump politics. As Judge Sotomayor faces the scrutiny of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Obama has nominated Regina Benjamin to be the next Surgeon General-- America's "top doctor." Part of what will make, and has made, these women such phenomenal public servants is their refusal to be snagged by the issue of abortion.

Blog Post Comprehensive Sexual Education Keeps Our Kids Safe

We teach our kids to wash their hands during flu season, we teach them to wear a seat belt in the car, we teach them not to talk to strangers. We do these things in order to give our children the knowledge to protect themselves and achieve all that they are capable of.  Part of ensuring that American children have access to the opportunity is ensuring their safety.

Blog Post Educational Inequality: Failing Our Students, Failing Ourselves

The theory behind high-quality public education is that there’s real value—civic, economic, and cultural—in providing every member of our society with the tools to fully utilize his or her potential.   When we all understand our civic rights and obligations, our democracy is stronger.  When we’re all skilled, our economy is more robust.  When our imaginations flourish, our culture is richer.  Conversely, when we systematically fail to provide some members of our nation with a quality education, we preclude these individuals from making their full contributions to our nation, our economy, and our culture.  It is disturbing, then, that persistent educational inequalities exist.

Blog Post An Uneven Journey

Earlier this year, I visited my father, who lives in the Bay Area. As we drove from the Oakland airport, the conversation quickly turned to the Obama presidency. Born in 1923, my dad survived the Great Depression, fought in World War II, endured vicious Jim Crow segregation and violence, participated in the Civil Rights Movement, and, this year, witnessed the inauguration of an African-American president of the United States.

Blog Post Van Jones as Green Jobs Czar

Brentin Mock at The American Prospect reports on the nomination of West Coast green jobs and urban revitalization advocate Van Jones to the White House position of Green Jobs Czar. Van Jones is the founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Green For All.  He is author of the New York Times Bestseller The Green Collar Economy.

Blog Post Now For the Hard Part...

Two weeks ago in this space I called for equal opportunity guarantees in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Ensuring equal and expanded opportunity for all, I argued, will be crucial to a broad and lasting economic recovery that upholds our nation’s values.

Blog Post The Pentagon (Finally) Displays Some Pragmatism

Urgency has a strange way of making people more pragmatic.  In the context of a crisis, outdated prejudices become stumbling blocks and, consequently, not so deeply held.  It’s surprising, then, that it took the Pentagon so long to realize that, at a time when our military is stretched thin in two combat wars, turning applicants away from the armed forces due to immigration status was not a workable solution.

Blog Post An Internship Where We Pay You

In a piece for Slate.com, Timothy Noah writes about the disturbing phenomenon of putting coveted summer internships up for auction at elite private schools. Clearly this is putting those who cannot pay, but are well qualified for the position, at an immediate disadvantage. Opportunity is quite literally being sold to the highest bidder.

Blog Post The State of Opportunity in America (2009) Released

The Opportunity Agenda is pleased to announce the release of our 2009 State of Opportunity in America report. The report documents America’s progress in protecting opportunity for everyone who lives here, and finds that access to full and equal opportunity is still very much a mixed reality.

Blog Post Dr. King's Modern Legacy

In the days just before and after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 80th birthday, I had the opportunity to visit two places that are integral to his modern day legacy: Washington, DC and the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. As I witnessed the inauguration of Barack Obama as the nation’s 44th president, I thought of Dr. King’s admonition, in his 1963 I Have a Dream Speech, that “we cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.” Despite some continuing problems at the ballot box, this was an election about which Dr. King could be truly satisfied; African Americans turned out in record numbers to elect the nation’s first African-American president.

In the same speech, Dr. King reminded the nation that “when the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable Rights’ of ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’”

For anyone who’s visited the Gulf Coast recently, it is obvious that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as the people of the Lower Ninth Ward—overwhelmingly poor and African-American—are concerned. The world witnessed in 2005 how our government left the region’s people to drown in their homes and suffer unspeakable conditions in the New Orleans Convention Center and Superdome. More than three years later, that abandonment continues.

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