For the past 30 years, the theme of individualism has dominated our national dialogue and common culture. Under the guise of personal responsibility, this narrative often celebrates individual success over the well-being of the entire community and blames individuals who fall behind instead of examining societal factors and root causes. We have watched the resulting policies leave millions of people behind. Americans are tired of this individualistic approach and are ready for a new generation of positive solutions.

Central to that vision is the notion of Community Values. This idea that we share responsibility for each other, that our fates are linked. Embracing Community Values means believing that we prosper as individuals and as a people when our politics and policies reflect that we’re all in it together. Whether described as interconnection, mutual responsibility, or loving your neighbor as you love yourself, Community Values are moral beliefs, a practical reality, and an important strategy.

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Blog Post Watch Your Mouth! Ten Phrases that Progressives Should Retire in 2013

Watching our mouths should be this year's top resolution

Along with the usual New Year’s resolutions about exercising, getting more sleep, and being more patient with the kids, progressives should add better communications to their list. We have an historic opportunity to frame the public debate this year in terms of social justice, human rights, and opportunity for all. But that requires being smarter and more deliberate in the way we talk about the nation’s priorities and future. At the very least, we need to stop using certain words and phrases that erode support for progressive values and policies. Here’s my list. I’ll ask for yours at the end of this post.

Jan 8 2013
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.

Mar 21 2012
Blog Post In Honor of International Women's Day, Let's Go From Rhetoric to Reality

The strange case of the Georgetown 3L and the bombastic talk radio host has garnered a lot of news attention lately. Unfortunately, as is too often the case, that attention has been focused on the sound and fury, which signify nothing.

Mar 8 2012
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.

Feb 21 2012
Blog Post The Occupy Movement Focuses on Foreclosures


By Alan Jenkins

As the Occupy movement enters its third month, it is moving into a new phase. Colder weather in the north, combined with aggressive push back from city officials around the country, is requiring the movement to adopt new, innovative approaches that include, but transcend, public presence as protest.

Nov 30 2011
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:

Oct 26 2011
Blog Post Genuine Investment in Jobs .. and Infrastructure

The U.S. unemployment rate remains dangerously high, and in some communities, rivals the rates of the Great Depression. Clearly, there is a jobs crisis in this country.  While the temptation for those who are employed might be to be thankful and exhort one another “not to rock the boat,” there is a plethora of reasons why that would be a Very Bad Idea. Ok, the thankful part is probably a good idea.

Aug 15 2011
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.

Jul 22 2010
Blog Post Spotlight on the U.S.-Mexico Border

While we’re spending our federal funds on policies that threaten both human rights at the border and judicial and prosecutorial safeguards, is there room for us to reaffirm our commitment to human dignity and due process? 

May 26 2010
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.

Mar 4 2010
Blog Post Framing and the Facts

At The Opportunity Agenda, we talk a lot about the importance of values and building communications around them. We do this, of course, because these values matter to us. Seeing them realized and supported are central to our goals.

Mar 2 2010
Blog Post Cold Times in New York Town

The coldest, most bitter part of winter is upon us.  Even those of us with a warm home and a proper coat have good reason to fear that truly awful type of wind, the kind that cuts through the skin and chills to the bone. And, for those among us without, this is the time of year when life becomes a struggle for very survival.

Jan 12 2010
Blog Post Peace Prize Victory for "We"

One of the shining moments in Obama's campaign from 2008 was the "Yes We Can" mantra that rang out across America. It was a powerful reminder of the founding principles rooted in our democracy, the idea that we live as "We The People." I think this is an important icon to meditate on after hearing news that President Obama is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Oct 9 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup

This week's immigration blog roundup discusses new detention center reform, an update on comprehensive immigration reform, blog news and more.

 Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Aug 6 2009
Blog Post Flint, MI: A Bastion of Community Values

 As the American economy claws its way back from the edge of a cliff, Michigan serves as a powerful example of just how bad things are in some places, and, indeed, how bad they could get for the rest of the country.  The state continues to have the highest unemployment of any state, and, while the auto bailouts appear to have prevented the wholesale collapse of the industry, there is no question that American automakers will cease to exist if they do not thoroughly reform themselves, which would send the state’s unemployment rate still higher.   And yet, in Flint, a city at the center of the storm, where more than a third of residents live in poverty, citizens refuse to give up on their community.

Aug 4 2009
Blog Post When Our Dreams Step Forward

Forty years ago this week, NASA made dreams come true, as humans stepped foot for the first time on the moon. What has impressed me is hearing over and over the praises of former NASA directors who recall the importance each member of the team, which was in the hundreds if not thousands, had in making the mission a reality. Indeed, it's a perfect example of the power we have as a nation—when we realize that we're not in it alone.

Jul 22 2009
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.

Jun 29 2009
Blog Post Investing in Opportunities for Youth = Investing in the Community

Recently, in Baltimore, Maryland several hundred youth, their parents, teachers, and other supporters gathered to protest Mayor Sheila Dixon’s series of proposed budget cuts to various youth resources. 

Jun 17 2009
Communications Toolkit: Talking About American Opportunity (2006)

TOOLKITTOUTHOME_0.JPGThis toolkit represents the best thinking about how to use the Opportunity Frame from the communications professionals at the SPIN Project, the leaders of The Opportunity Agenda, other communications professionals engaged in defining the Opportunity Frame, and grassroots leaders from across the country working on critically important issues. 

May 1 2009
Blog Post A Community-Minded Generation

Much has been made of the vitality that President Obama brings to the White House.  To be sure, this is in part the story of his relative youth—only Clinton, Grant, Kennedy, and Theodore Roosevelt were younger when assuming the office—but it’s also a function of his ability to convince the millennial generation (or vocalize the millennial generation’s belief) that their voices matter.  Given the size and scope of the challenges facing our nation, we need young people to see the stake that they have in their communities.    

Apr 14 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup 4/2/09

This week's blog roundup includes coverage on immigration-related news from a few states, including New Jersey, and some reports reviewing DHS.

The Blue Panel report on integrating immigrants in New Jersey, commissioned by Governor Corzine, is finally out.  Recommendations include:

Apr 2 2009
Blog Post Thursday Immigration Blog Roundup 3/26/09

This week's updates include the economic crisis and immigrants, more on the Family Unity tour, and local immigration news from New Jersey, California, and Alabama.

National News

Amnesty International (AI) released its report on immigrant detention in the United States.  AI's recommendations include:

Mar 26 2009
Blog Post Opportunity on Ice

There's been a lot of conversation lately over what Wall Street needs to finally fix the economy.  Some say a good paddling, those most outraged with federal money paying AIG bonuses, while others feel that reinvestment in assets is the only way to jump start its engine and finally pull the world out of the mud.  What Wall Street needs isn't so much a massive flow of cash, but a deepening understanding in their interconnectedness with communities all around the country.

Mar 25 2009
Communications Talking Points: A Core Narrative for Immigration Advocates (2009)

It’s time to tell a new story about immigration in this country. We propose a flexible, values-based framework that we can use to start a variety of conversations: We need workable solutions that uphold our values and help us move forward together.

Mar 15 2009
Blog Post Investing in Early Education Equality

Education is perhaps the closest thing we have to a social panacea.  When it works, it can fuel social mobility, economic productivity, crime prevention, and personal fulfillment.  And we know that the earlier a child enters school, the more likely he or she is to have a successful academic career.  So why is it so hard to make universal preschool a national priority?

Mar 3 2009
Blog Post Hollywood on Immigration: We're All in it Together

The recently-released trailer for the upcoming film Crossing Over illustrates the power of values-based messaging.

Feb 12 2009
Blog Post The Change of Power, The Breath of Opportunity

The cold could not quell the flame that burned in the hearts of two million Americans, huddled together in masses across the National Mall to welcome in the 44th President of the United States.  Indeed, President Obama's inauguration speech harkened the breath of American Values, which hung in the naked cherry trees like hoar ice along the Potomac on an early January morning.

Jan 20 2009
Communications Media Tool: Five Ways to Promote Community Values in Your State (2008)

During an election year, how can you promote your issue with limited resources?  This sheet offers simple ways to promote the concept of community values, but you can use it to think about how to promote a variety of causes and issues. 

Jan 15 2009
Communications Toolkit: Community Values (2008)

commValuesToolkit.pngThis publication contains a balance of historical context, framing advice, resources, practical tools and strategies for moving toward a new political conversation.  

Dec 10 2008
Video Video: Desireena Talks About Community

 A Filipina-American media producer talks about the support she receives from the gay community, and why strong, supportive communities are a key to opportunity.

May 15 2008
Communications Sample Op-ed: Community Values - Des Moines Register (2007)

This Op-ed is an example of harnessing a media opportunity, in this case the Iowa caucuses, to frame a message.


Dec 15 2007
Communications Media Coverage: Heartland Presidential Forum - Campaign for Community Values (2007)

Held December 2, 2007 in Des Moines, IA, the Heartland Presidential Forum kicked off the Campaign for Community Values.  The resulting press coverage included a values dimension otherwise missing in much of the caucus coverage.


Dec 1 2007
Research Brochure: About The Opportunity Agenda (2008)

Read about The Opportunity Agenda in our new brochure.


Jan 20 2007
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