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Baltimore - So Much More than The Wire
This guest post was co-authored by Debby Goldberg, Vice-President for Housing Policy & Special Projects at the National Fair Housing Alliance and Eva-Marie Malone, Economic Opportunity Coordinator at The Opportunity Agenda.
We all want and deserve to live in diverse, thriving communities in which our opportunities are not circumscribed by our zip code. “About a quarter of Baltimore residents live below the poverty line. The unemployment rate in zip code 21217, where the riots broke out on Monday, was 19.1% in 2011.” The unemployment rate in Roland Park, a suburban area of Baltimore, was 5.2%. Communities built on values of equality and opportunity would be the realization of the American Dream in which we all believe.
|May 1 2015|
From commercials to detention reform: Immigration from All Sides
||Jun 27 2007|
FEMA's tactics in the post-Katrina climate
||Jun 28 2007|
Schools Decision Feedback
In the aftermath of the Supreme
In addition to the many opinions
In light of Justice
However, not all writers agree with this
For more commentary on the ruling,
|Jul 10 2007|
Does socioeconomic balancing also integrate schools?
||Jul 16 2007|
Without Prejudice: Entirely too much prejudice?
||Jul 18 2007|
More problems in structuring immigration reform
||Jul 18 2007|
Online organizing against new BET show
||Jul 23 2007|
Economic Opportunity Hot in the Primary States
The ONE Campaign has conducted a poll of likely Iowa Caucus-goers, and the results are extremely encouraging for those working on issues of economic opportunity and mobility:
|Aug 17 2007|
Immigrants Boycott Western Union
||Sep 13 2007|
The Revolution Is Digitized
|Oct 2 2007|
On Being a Kid: Health Care, Photo-Ops, and Video Games
||Oct 5 2007|
A Human Right to Health
|Oct 10 2007|
Life in a Diverse America
|Oct 18 2007|
Daily Blog Round-Up 6/18/07
||Jun 18 2007|
Daily Blog Round-Up 6/11/07
We wanted to first give a shoutout to Racialicious, which is fast becoming one of our favorite blogs for their great reporting and abundance of good links to reporting on issues of racial justice.
|Jun 11 2007|
Why Now is the Time to Tackle Poverty
Every couple of generations, the stars align to create the potential for monumental, transformative social change. It turns out we're in just such a moment right now when it comes to tackling poverty in the United States.
I don't blame you for being skeptical. Economic inequality is growing, big corporations are consolidating their political power, and our federal government is mired in partisan gridlock. So why am I still smiling?
|Sep 26 2014|
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|
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.
|Dec 21 2011|
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.
|Mar 12 2010|
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|
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|
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.
|Nov 20 2009|
Tale of Two Health Crises
Maria Foscarinis, a lawyer, is Founder and Executive Director, of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, a not-for-profit organization based in Washington, D.C.
Twenty two years ago I received shocking news: I had Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer of the lymphatic system that affects primarily young people. At the age of 30 I began a long and to date successful effort to fight the disease and regain my health.
|Aug 18 2009|
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.
|Feb 1 2009|
What Can an Equitable Recovery Look Like?
Recovery from a natural disaster should be able to make survivors “whole.” However, when the starting point is life in one of the poorest and most dangerous countries in the Western hemisphere, getting back to normal becomes a trickier proposition. Haiti has the highest rates of infant, under-five and maternal mortality in the Western hemisphere. In 2003, 80% of the population was estimated to live under the international poverty line. As demonstrated by the extended recovery process from Hurricane Katrina, economic condition has a determinative effect on the a
|Jan 25 2010|
Opportunity in Images: Take Two
Earlier this year, we teamed up with students in the Masters in Media Studies program at the New School University here in New York. As part of a media production class, we became the "client" and the students became graphic designers, tasked with creating images representing the core values of community, equality, and human rights apply to one of three initiatives: Immigration reform, health care equity, and the 2008 election.
Here's a sample of some of the great work they produced. These images are creative commons licensed (Attribution), and the name of the designer can be found in the description. We encourage everyone to Remix and Reuse them in your own work. You can find the full set of images here.
|May 14 2007|
Daily Blog Round-up: 6/1/07
||Jun 4 2007|
Daily Blog Round-Up 6/4/07
||Jun 5 2007|
DREAM Act Vote Today in Senate
|Oct 24 2007|
Spitzer Reaches Agreement with Federal Government on Licenses for Immigrants
||Oct 29 2007|
Opportunity Radio: After the Storm
Episode 6 of our podcast, Opportunity Radio, is now available.
After the Storm: A Conversation with Author David Dante Troutt
If you have trouble with our subscription links, you can open your iTunes Music Store and search for Opportunity Radio.
|Sep 18 2006|
For Better or Worse
If you are in DC and have some free time on September 28th, we recommend you check out this (free) forum at the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. It should be an engaging and informative discussion about the impact of race, poverty, and gender on African American women and their families. Details below.
For Better or For Worse: The Implications of Poverty, Gender and Race on African American Women and Their Families
When: Thursday, September 28, 2006, 4 PM – 6 PM
Where: Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
RSVP: RSpraggins@deltafoundation.net or call (202) 347-1337.
The Forum Discussion brings thought-provoking speakers, scholars, activists and community leaders to discuss poverty, race and gender and their impact on African American women and their families. These discussions promise to generate personal reflection and social action within our communities.
This event will show the depths and varieties of women’s poverty. A distinguished panel will discuss and examine the connection between the social, economic, cultural and political impact of poverty on African American women and their families
Moderated by: Dr. Chester Hartman, Director of Research, Poverty & Race Research Action Council, and co-editor of There is No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster: Race, Class, and Hurricane Katrina just published by Routledge.
Confirmed panelists include:
Dr. Roderick Harrison, Director of Databank at The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, DC.
Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever, Director of the Poverty, Education and Social Justice Programs at The Institute for Women Policy Research in Washington, DC.
Dr. William Spriggs, Chair of the Economics Department at Howard University in Washington, DC.
Dr. Susan Popkin, Senior Research Associate, Metropolitan Housing and Communities Planning center at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC.
A Q&A session will follow.
|Sep 19 2006|
650 Economists Agree . . .
Five Nobel Prize Winners and 650 economists agree, raising the mimimum wage is a good idea.
Right now, the minimum wage is at its lowest real value since 1951. As the experts all note below (5 Nobel winners - how's that for backing up my claim?), indexing the minimum wage to inflation is an excellent way to protect our lowest paid workers and provide them with the economic security they need to support their families and pursue the American Dream.
My one quibble is that they make a special effort to note that this increase will mostly assist low-income, female, adults. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but it sounds like a counter argument to the oft-repeated claim that a raise in the mimimum wage will primarily effect teenagers. To which I would respond - what's wrong with that? College costs are skyrocketting, student debt is at unmanageable levels. Don't working teenagers deserve a pay raise as much as anyone?
As I said though, maybe I'm reading too much into those lines. In any case, a strong statement in favor of workers, economic security, and the American Dream. Check it out.
|Oct 13 2006|
Podcast: Participate in a Conversation About Health Equity
On Thursday, The Opportunity Agenda will record the 7th edition of Opportunity Radio - our monthly podcast. In this edition, Brian Smedley, Research Director and co-founder of The Opportunity Agenda, and director of the Institute of Medicine study "Unequal Treatment," will talk with Rinku Sen, executive director of the Applied Research Center and publisher of Color Lines magazine, about the issue of health care disparities.
Brian and Rinku will define health disparities, discuss the scope of the problem, and explore what Rinku and ARC are doing to combat disparities and help all Americans achieve health equity - or equality in access to, and quality of, care. During this conversation, we would like Brian and Rinku to answer questions posed by you, our readers.
If you have a question about equity, access, and the role that race, ethnicity, and gender play in American health care, please post your question in the comments. Brian and Rinku will do their best to provide answers to your questions during their conversation. If any questions are not addressed during out podcast, we'll do out best to answer those questions in the comments or through an additional blog post.
This is a topic not often addressed in health care debates or in the blogosphere. Even health policy blogs frequently gloss over the topic or avoid it alltogether. Never the less, it is an important issue affecting millions of Americans every day and in many places across the country it is an issue that is getting worse.
No question is too big or small, and we genuinely want to hear from you on this issue. If you'd like to become more informed before diving into the conversation, here are some facts and resources to get you started:
|Oct 23 2006|
Schizophrenia at The Times; Unequal Treatment for the Patients
Over at the New York Times, it looks like the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. Readers today may have noticed a distinct schizophrenia between the Times coverage of New York State Hospital closures on the front page and on its editorial pages. Unfortunately, despite two tries, the Times still fails to get the story right.
The front page notes that while the Berger Commission proposed closing 9 hospitals, other recommendations on "right sizing" 48 other institutions constituted sweeping change that could have profound effects on NY State health care:
Over on the Op-Ed page, however, the Gray Lady's editorial board praised the Commission for its "modest" and "courageous" actions in reigning in New York's wayward hospital system. For the editors, the only real problem lies with the legislature - "cowards" who might choose to reject the courageous commission's recommendations.
Both articles fail to note that the closings and restructuring will likely exacerbate existing health disparities - particularly in major metropolitan areas - and take jobs away from many health care workers. Both articles also fail to note that the chance of the legislature rejecting the Commision's recommendations are next to zero due to a promised federal bail-out of the system (to the tune of $1.5 Billion) contingent upon the state's acceptance (pdf) and implementation of the commission's recommendations.
Our partners at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest covered this much more thoroughly and eloquently than I could. Here is a letter they sent to Governor Pataki and Governor Elect Spitzer about yesterday's announcement:
For more information - including fact sheets, maps (of New York City), and reports, visit The Opportunity Agenda.
If you would like to take action, you can send you comments to the state assembly here:
|Nov 29 2006|
Mapping Disparity - Healthcarethatworks.org
Today we're happy to announce the launch of a new project that we've had in the works for a few months now - www.healthcarethatworks.org.
Health Care That Works is a new website designed to visually illustrate the economic and racial disparities that exist in New York City's health care system, and drive all New Yorker's of conscience to take action by emailing their elected officials.
The site is a Google Map mash-up
But the site is more than just a visual resource, it is also a data-rich resource for researchers that contains a variety of reports and fact sheets (as well as data on the patient demographics, payer source, and quality scores for each hospital), a community forum for health care advocates and New Yorkers, and an activism tool that encourages New Yorkers to write to their elected officials in support of creating a health care system that works equally for all.
We think that Health Care That Works can be a valuable resource that sheds light on the underreported issues of racial and economic disparities in health care. Let us know what you think here in the comments, or over in the Health Care That Works forums.
|Jan 16 2007|
Update: (Google) Mapping Health Care Disparities
We've only been live for a few days, but Health Care That Works, our Google Maps Mashup of health care disparities and hospital closings in NYC, is already getting a lot of attention. So far we've been featured on the following blogs:
|Jan 18 2007|
State of Opportunity; State of the Union
Last night President Bush delivered his 6th State of the Union Address. Thanks to a terrific interactive tool put out by the New York Times, we're able to determine that Bush mentioned opportunity 8 times in his speech - more than in any other State of the Union address he has delivered thus far. In almost each instance, he referenced the need to spread hope and opportunity and build a brighter future for our country.
It's wonderful to hear the President promote the value of opportunity
Last year, just after the President's 2006 Address (in which one of the only references to opportunity came coupled with a broken promise to rebuild New Orleans - curiously absent from last night's speech), The Opportunity Agenda released a report - The State of Opportunity in America. In this report, we measured America's progress in expanding opportunity along a variety of indicators and issues. Our findings were not encouraging.
Next month, we'll release an update to the State of Opportunity Report. For now, here's a sample of our findings:
We'll have more in a few weeks. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, you can fact-check the President's statements and policy proposals through this tool created by Think Progress.
We also recommend you check out the SOTU review offered by our friends at the Drum Major Institute.
What did you think of the President's address and his newfound commitment to spreading opportunity?
|Jan 24 2007|
Separate and Unequal Transport
At the end of December, three advocacy groups in San Francisco released MTC, Where Are Our Buses?, a report about disparities in transportation funding which adversely affect people of color and low-income populations. Public Advocates, Urban Habitat, and Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) have labeled the Bay Area's transit system "Separate and Unequal," and provide compelling evidence to support their claim.
Released on the 50-year anniversary of the civil rights campaign to integrate bus service in Montgomery, Alabama, the report details recent funding and route decisions made by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), and how they have impacted the local population. At issue are the differences in subsidies provided to Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), Caltrain (both of which service primarily white suburbs), and AC Transit buses to the East Bay area (a region in which 80% of the residents are people of color). According to a press release by Urban Habitat, the report "details both the sizeable funding disparities per passenger, and the resulting disparities in transit service as BART and Caltrain services have more than doubled, while AC Transit service has contracted by 30%." Further, the report provides data that "public dollars subsidize the trips of BART and Caltrain commuters, who are disproportionately white, at three to five times higher levels than the trips of AC Transit’s mostly minority ridership."
The report also discusses local efforts to hold the MTC accountable, from a class-action law suit filed in federal court, alleging racial discrimination, to the MTC Minority Citizens’ Advisory Committee’s (MCAC) which has issued a series of recommendations on improving environmental justice. So far, the MTC has yet to institute any changes in its policy.
According to AJ Napolis of Urban Habitat, "At stake is not only the access of low-income bus riders and their families to economic and educational opportunities, but the vitality of our communities," citing a study that a cut in transport funding can cost a community ten times more in travel costs and lost income.
|Feb 8 2007|
The Real Costs of Bush's Budget
An editorial in today's New York Times takes a closer look at Bush's '07 budget, and notes that programs designed to increase access to health care among low-income Americans - particularly children - are the latest casualty of Bush's crusade to lower taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
As Families USA notes in a press release, this is contrary to previous statements by Bush:
Families USA also notes that, besides funding SCHIP at a level inadequate to retain current enrollment numbers, the president's plan will actually reduce SCHIP eligibility in 18 states including California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland,
Hundreds of thousands of children in these states will lose their coverage and enter the ranks of the uninsured. The move is a stark contrast to current public opinion, as well counterproductive to new policy initiatives that seek to expand coverage for children at the state level.
Health care is a human right. Until we provide a fair, equitable system that provides access to those most in need, our nation will never live up to its full potential as a society of equal opportunity for all Americans. President Bush's proposed cuts to Medicaid and SCHIP, which will put hundreds of thousands of children at risk for unnecessary health complications, moves us further away that ideal America we all want to achieve.
|Feb 12 2007|
Opportunity Agenda in the News
Two op-eds by the Opportunity Agenda are making their way around the net.
Over at Tom Paine, Opportunity Agenda co-founders Alan Jenkins and Brian Smedley have an article assessing the state of health care equity five years after the release of the ground breaking study, Unequal Treatment:
Both pieces offer solutions as well as critiques of the problem. Go give them a read.
|May 3 2007|
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.
|Mar 11 2009|
The Promise of Opportunity
Taking another look at "New Progressive Voices," a collection of essays outlining a new long-term, progressive vision for America, today we turn to our Executive Director, Alan Jenkins', contribution.
The piece paints a bleak picture. Alan outlines many of the problems facing regular Americans today. Many people are having trouble getting a job that pays a living wage, paying for health care, and getting their children into quality schools. Tying this together with the present high rates of incarceration, all signs point to a general lack of opportunity in America.
In keeping with goals of this essay collection Alan's essay, "The Promise of Opportunity," strives to give concrete solutions to these communal ills. Alan's essay suggests making "opportunity" a metric by which to consider the viability of federal programs.
To read the full article, click here.
|Sep 23 2008|
Monday Health Blog Roundup
• This past week there have been a number of news articles about the Black AIDS Institute study on the racial disparities among those living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. The New York Times pointed to the part of the study that said that if one only counted the African American population in the U.S., the country would have the 16th highest rate of people with AIDS:
The Washington Post's coverage of the study focused on the Institute’s criticism of the federal government’s approach to addressing the AIDS crisis in black communities:
A DMI Blog posting last Thursday also discussed the study and questioned whether the next President would choose to focus on tackling racial disparities in the American HIV/AIDS population, or would continue to ignore the issue:
• The Kaiser Health Disparities Report has pointed out that new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the presence of racial disparities in the current U.S. infant mortality rates. According to the new data, black infants are 2.4 times more likely to die before they turn one year old than white infants are:
• An editorial in last week’s Los Angeles Times discusses how rising food prices are actually likely to increase obesity rates in the U.S., not decrease them. In many other parts of the world, an increase in food prices leads to an increase in rates of hunger (not obesity). However, the article points out that obesity has a lot to do with the type of food people consume, not just the amount:
Obesity rates have long been more prevalent in poor communities in the U.S. - the article also points out that the states that have the highest rates of obesity also have the highest proportion of families living in poverty. People living in poor communities, particularly poor communities of color, must have access to healthy food in order to prevent these health disparities from becoming more extreme. To learn more about inadequate health care access in communities of color, read the CERD report to the UN, Unequal Health Outcomes in the United States.
• An essay in The New York Times discusses how the American Medical Association’s apology for its past racism towards black physicians and patients brought to light the historical split between the AMA and the National Medical Association, a group that represents black physicians. The essay pointed out that while last month’s apology was an important step in bridging the gap between the two organizations, more needs to be done to overcome the inadequate representation of black physicians in the medical profession:
|Aug 4 2008|
Crime is Not an Isolated Action, in New Orleans and Beyond
|Oct 31 2007|
San Francisco Hospital Closure Will Deny Health Care Access to Underserved Communities
|Nov 5 2007|
'Reckless Optimism': People Really Are Able to Turn Their Lives Around
|Nov 13 2007|
The Katrina of Public Health
|Nov 27 2007|
Birth of a Movement
|Dec 4 2007|
Undocumented Immigrant Honored in Arizona
|Dec 5 2007|
A Debate on Housing, Live from the New Orleans City Council
|Dec 20 2007|
Baking More Pie
With a tongue-in-cheek ad declaring “Our prices are insane!,” last week’s Education Week section of the New York Times ran a cover story entitled “The Low Cost of College.” Inside, an article by David Leonhardt describes a surprising trend among elite American universities. They are actually reducing tuition and increasing aid for low-income and middle classed students.
Beginning next fall, schools including Dartmouth, Haverford, and Rice will offer grants instead of loans to lower income students. They are following the lead of schools like Harvard, which announced in 2006 that parents making less than $60,000 would not have to pay anything toward their kids’ education. And many schools are reaching out to middle class families too—Harvard announced in December that it would also offer significant financial aid to families making less than $180,000.
Leonhardt’s article points out that these efforts are extremely modest compared to the substantial decrease in low-income students at elite schools over the last two decades. As we reported in The State of Opportunity in America, “since 1983…the increase in tuition costs at both public and private four-year institutions has greatly outpaced the increase in median family income.”
As Leonhardt’s piece correctly notes, increases in the federal Pell grant—which typically goes to families making less than $40,000—would accomplish far greater positive change, as would reforms that transcend these elite schools, like “preparing more low- and middle-income children to attend college, lifting the graduation rates at community colleges and large four-year colleges, and simplifying and expanding federal financial aid.”
The article falls short, though, when it comes to discussing the reasons why any of these changes are worth making in the first place. Explaining that “there are several arguments for increasing economic diversity at elite colleges,” the article says (1) “it makes the universities more consistent with their self-image as meritocracies;” (2) these colleges “have come to play arguably a larger role in American society;” and (3) “recent research also suggests that lower-income students benefit more from an elite education than other students do.”
Is that really it? Those reasons, it seems to me, are both cynical and narrow. They are out of touch with the promise of opportunity that a quality college education represents for successive generations of Americans. What about these reasons:
Why do the reasons matter? Because if opening elite schools to low-income families is just about making Ivy League bureaucrats proud of themselves, or because poor kids may get an incrementally greater value than rich kids, then it's about others, not about all of us.
Just as important, connecting financial aid polices to our national values and interests leads to other, more profound questions. Like so many articles about higher education, the piece fails to ask how we can go beyond ways of dividing up the existing educational pie, and actually bake more pie. Clearly, the future of our nation depends not only on achieving a mix of students from different backgrounds, but also on expanding educational opportunities so that every kid who can do the work has access to a school that taps her or his full potential. Expanding opportunity and, therefore, shared prosperity, is where we should set our sights as a nation.
|Apr 29 2008|
Rising rents are not only displacing New York residents but their food as well. As the New York Times reports, the city of eight million now has just over 550 moderately sized supermarkets, defined as at least 10,000 square feet.
The dearth of easily available fresh food isn't confined to poor communities but these areas are disproportionately affected. A Health Department study from last year specifically compared the Upper East Side with Harlem finding a vast disparity in access to healthy foods. Harlem has twice as many bodegas, or corner stores, than the Upper East Side but these stores typically offer less healthy food. Only three percent of Harlem bodegas even sell leafy green vegetables. Expanding to other food options, 16 percent of Harlem restaurants serve fast food compared to only four percent on the Upper East Side.
Predictably, the result is Harlem residents are three to four times as likely to be obese or have diabetes. Yesterday's NYT article features an excellent citywide map (see below) showing the correlation of low supermarket density and incidences of diabetes. Pay particular attention to the Bronx and the intersection of Queens and Brooklyn.
|May 6 2008|
Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?
The United States is a vastly unequal country, not just in terms of income and wealth, but also in terms of access to opportunity - some communities have it, some don't. And it turns out this inequality of opportunity hurts not just the poor or people of color who face a legacy of discrimination, but everyone in our society. That’s because inequality literally harms our health – people at every descending step of the socioeconomic ladder have worse health than those just one rung above, and societies characterized by high levels of inequality have poorer health than those that are more equal.
Public health scholars have known this for quite some time. But now a new, powerful documentary series by California Newsreel promises to inform a far broader audience of the pernicious effects of inequality on health. This series, “Unnatural Causes,” is airing on PBS stations around the country, and tells the stories of real people – some poor, some middle class, some well-off – and how their access to opportunity affects not only their health, but the health of others in their communities. It shows how, for example, the health of nearly every resident of a small town in Western Michigan declined when a major factory closed, relocating the plant to Mexico where the company could pay workers wages one-tenth of those earned by the Michigan workers. It shows how subtle, persistent racism and social deprivation can lead to a higher incidence of low birth weight babies among black women. And it shows how a Pacific Island community’s health was compromised when the U.S. government uprooted it, disrupting traditional health and nutritional practices.
Cynics might suggest that inequality is a natural phenomena – some people are “winners,” others “losers” in a competition for resources. Or that attempts to solve – or even raise awareness of – these problems are un-American, and can lead only to radical strategies such as the redistribution of resources.
But addressing inequality doesn’t take a revolution. We can begin by asking ourselves what kind of country we want to be. If we believe – as most Americans do – that the United States should be a place where everyone has a fair chance to achieve their full potential, then we can focus on achievable policy solutions. These include things like providing access to high-quality early child education programs for all children, reforming school financing to equalize the quality of education in K through 12th grade, and reducing financial barriers to college. We should also support living wage policies, so that no one who works full-time is forced to live in poverty, and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit program. We should provide job training so that more people can participate in high-growth jobs, such as in the technology industry. We should invest in affordable housing and fix the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. We should support housing mobility programs, so that people in low-opportunity communities can move to better neighborhoods, and invest in jobs and schools in low-opportunity communities so that they become attractive places to live and work.
These are but some of the ways to restore opportunity and improve our health. It doesn’t take a revolution – just a reconciling of our beliefs with our actions.
|Apr 2 2008|
Alan Jenkins on The Tavis Smiley Show
Listen to the Tavis Smiley Show as The Opportunity Agenda's
The Tavis Smiley Show airs
|Mar 31 2008|
Still Changing After All of These Years
Celebrating forty years of outreach to America's marginalized, the Center for Community Change has helped carry on the dreams of America's most inspirational dreamers. Launched in 1968, following the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the center was a direct response to the war on poverty that was embarked upon during the 1960s.
We're excited about the work that we've been able to do with the Center for Community Change, working to foster values that bring our communities together and open the doorway for opportunity to all Americans. Forty years after RFK was gunned down in front of the nation's eye, I find a great sense of satisfaction and hope in the cry for change that many have been calling for in recent times.
The spirit of Kennedy seems alive and well in the hearts of the many attendees I encountered last Friday at the Better Deal Conference in Washington. The conference set out the many issues that young Americans face; issues such as the fact that many find themselves achieving a lesser standard of living than that of their parents. Key issues such as housing raise some serious questions as to the obstacles that our Future Majority will face.
However, in spite of the mountain that has risen in front of young Americans since their parents traveled down these same roads, a great energy was felt throughout the crowd. Rev. Lennox Yearwood, from the Hip Hop Caucus said that the children born after 1968 are part of the "Dream Generation," those who have lived in the world that Dr. King had dreamed of when he imagined freedom ringing from the highest mountain.
with the National Mall only a few blocks from the Beter Deal conference, where Dr. King had cried out his dream, change seemed well masted in the horizon.
The seeds that the Center for Community Change has planted over the past forty years continue to grow, and bear the fruit of our future leaders. Their voice is strong, and when reflecting on the work CCC has done over the past forty years, I'm excited to think what the next forty will hold.
|May 12 2008|
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.
|Apr 15 2009|
|Page||BUILDING PUBLIC AWARENESS OF INEQUALITY: WHAT THE RESEARCH SHOWS||Sep 1 2015|
Top Public Opinion Insights To Begin The New Year
By Jhanidya Bermeo
|Dec 17 2013|
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.
|Mar 15 2009|
Brochure: About The Opportunity Agenda (2008)
Read about The Opportunity Agenda in our new brochure.
|Jan 20 2007|
Book: All Things Being Equal (2007)
The Opportunity Agenda's first book, All Things Being Equal, documents critical ideas about the state of opportunity.
|Apr 1 2009|
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.
|Apr 1 2009|
|Research||Public Opinion: State Policy Makers and Human Rights (2008)||Oct 15 2008|
|Research||Report: Home Ownership and Wealth Building Impeded (2006)||Mar 1 2009|
Report: State of Opportunity (2006)
If 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
|Feb 15 2009|
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The Opportunity Agenda is a project of Tides Center