Ensuring Equal and Expanded Opportunity

Go to Home Opportunity initiative

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 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. Such plans can serve all Americans fairly and effectively, or they can create and perpetuate unfairness and inequality based on race, gender, or other aspects of who we are. 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 current recovery process is an opportunity to prepare us as a country for the 21st century global economy. Any economic recovery policy should not only jump-start the economy in the short-term, but also invest in lasting opportunity for all—this means that recovery efforts must do more than simply return us to the conditions that existed at the beginning of this economic crisis. At the end of 2008, different American groups and communities experienced starkly unequal levels of opportunity. African American individual income was only 75.6 percent of white income, and Latino individual median income was 71.6 percent of white median income. Moreover, women made only 76.8 percent the median income of men, and 13.2 percent of Americans were living in poverty.

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.

Economic Recovery and Opportunity Tools:

Promoting Opportunity through Impact Statements: A Tool for Policymakers to Assess Equity - Issue Brief (2012)
The American Constitution Society is pleased to distribute “Promoting Opportunity through Impact Statements: A Tool for Policymakers to Assess Equity,” an Issue Brief by The Opportunity Agenda Executive Director Alan Jenkins and his staff. In this Issue Brief, the authors recommend that administrative agencies use Opportunity Impact Statements (OIS) to evaluate government funded projects for compliance with equal opportunity and anti-discrimination laws like Title VI. They suggest that by making an agency fully cognizant of its civil rights compliance, an OIS could significantly improve access to quality employment, education, housing, transportation, and healthcare.

Related links: "New Orleans Grew More Unequal After Hurricane Katrina: Report," The Huffington Post, April 26, 2012. 

Analysis of Public Opinion and Media Content: Economic Recovery and Equal Opportunity in the Public Discourse - FULL REPORT - PDF 
(Executive Summary - PDF)
This report analyzes mainstream media coverage and a large body of public opinion research regarding America’s economic recovery and the ways in which it is affecting different communities and groups within our society.  The report is intended to identify trends in reporting and beliefs, with the aim of contributing to a more robust, more accurate, and more sophisticated public discourse on this subject.

Policy Brief: Reforming HUD's Regulations to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing - PDF
The Opportunity Agenda applauds HUD’s efforts to revitalize its duty to administer all housing and community development programs “in a manner affirmatively to further the policies of [the Fair Housing Act].” Here are our recommendations, and proposed model regulatory language, for changes to HUD’s existing affirmatively further fair housing (“AFFH”) regulations.

Toolkit: Sample Media Materials for October 30th Release of Data on Stimulus Spending - PDF
This document contains ideas and sample materials to use in media outreach around the October 30, 2009 release of stimulus spending data. Coverage is likely to lean toward a frame of government waste or discussions of whether or not the funds stimulated general growth. It will take proactive efforts to ensure coverage includes an angle about equity and overlooked groups and communities. These tips are meant to be low-cost options for achieving this goal.

Fact Sheet: Ensuring Equal Opportunity in Our Nation's Economic Recovery Efforts - PDF
This fact sheet provides information and ideas for ensuring that federal investments in America’s economic recovery create greater and more equal opportunity for all.  Specifically, it describes the ways in which existing laws require equal opportunity in jobs, housing, health care, transportation, and other sectors, and offers specific ideas for holding public and private officials accountable.

Talking Points: Talking Economic Recovery and Equal Opportunity - PDF
This memo offers communications advice for promoting greater and more equal opportunity during the current economic downturn.  It draws on recent opinion research, media analysis, and experience from the field to offer promising approaches and messages.

Policy Brief: Proposed Metrics for Equitable and Expanded Opportunity in the Economic Recovery - PDF
This memorandum outlines a proposal from The Opportunity Agenda, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, The Center for Social Inclusion, and Leadership Conference for Civil Rights for measuring equity throughout the ongoing economic recovery process.

Policy Brief: The Opportunity Impact Statement (OIS) - PDF
Policy Brief: OIS Summary - PDF

The Opportunity Impact Statement (OIS) is a comprehensive evaluation tool that public bodies, affected communities, and the private sector can use to ensure that programs and projects offer equal and expanded opportunity for everyone in a community or region, as required by law.

Legal Analysis: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Accountability & Community Provisions Summary - Excel File
This summary provides an analysis of provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as related to transparency and specific communities.

The State of Opportunity in America (2009)
The State of Opportunity in America, 2009 documents America’s progress in protecting opportunity for everyone who lives here. By analyzing government data across a range of indicators, this report assesses the state of opportunity for our nation as a whole, as well as for different groups within our society.