In 1931, the great American writer and historian James Truslow Adams coined the term "the American Dream" in his novel, The Epic of America. This dream, Adams declared, was predicated on life being "better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability of achievement regardless of social class or circumstances of birth."
In 2012, eighty-one years after Adams forged our national ethos, only six percent of children born to parents at the bottom of the socio-economic milieu make it to the top.
Children in many European countries have greater socio-economic mobility than those in the United States. And although the U.S. leads the world in educational attainment among 55- to 64-year-olds, it ranks fourth among 35- to 44-year-olds and 10th among 25- to 34-year-olds.
How distant is Adams' dream from the reality of America today?
Over the past year, Opportunity Nation has been working to hasten economic mobility for Americans.
We've forged a coalition of more than 250 partner organizations; hosted regional summits on opportunity on college and university campuses across the country; met with dozens of elected officials to sound the alarm about declining mobility in our country; and are actively engaging with political candidates across the divide about the roles they can play in advancing mobility.
This September, Opportunity Nation will host its second national Summit to shine a spotlight on one of the earliest and most critical rungs on the ladder of opportunity: ensuring that the rising generation is equipped with the skills needed to compete in the current and future economies.
At the Summit:
- We will be putting forth a bold set of ideas that illuminate pathways to success beyond just a four-year degree, including those that link education to work. We will also work to make post-secondary pathways more affordable.
- We will be asking businesses that are leading the way through education, training, hiring and promoting to share their lessons and deepen their commitments to the 21st century American workforce.
- We will be calling on civic leaders to share their inspiring efforts and impressive impact.
- And we will hear from leading elected officials from across the political spectrum about their plans to create communities of opportunity across the country.
- Additionally, Opportunity Nation will release the 2012 Opportunity Index, unveiling new data that will spotlight the progress (or decline) that communities have experienced since the inaugural results were released last year.
Opportunity Nation will be presenting this Summit at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 19, 2012 along with lead partners TIME Magazine, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Steering Committee members Year Up, Jumpstart, United Way Worldwide, World Vision, CFED, Points of Light and America's Promise Alliance.
We look forward to seeing you there.
Follow Mark Edwards on Twitter: www.twitter.com/oppnation