America is the land of opportunity. It is also a country defined by initiative. Opportunity Nation, a coalition group, and Seattle-based Starbucks have recently launched call-to-action projects dedicated to fulfilling the promise of the American Dream.
Launched last week, the Opportunity Nation campaign is described as “a broad-based, cross-partisan coalition of nearly 200 public, private, non-profit, civilian and military organizations…joined together to create and advocate for an agenda that provides better skills, quality jobs and stronger communities to all Americans.
The centerpiece of the campaign is the Opportunity Index, which scores each state on factors such as median household income, on-time high school graduation rates, poverty, preschool attendance, access to high-speed internet, crime rates and civic participation.
"Opportunity Nation starts from the belief that the zip code you're born into shouldn't pre-determine your destiny, and that when social mobility grinds to a halt, we are in grave danger of losing the best of America," saidMark Edwards, executive director of Opportunity Nation in a statement.
The Index is comprised of data from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the Federal Communications Commission, the National Center for Education Statistics and the Center for Disease Control.
What opens the most doors to opportunity? Not money, according to the Index. Nevada, for example, has low scores in education that in part negate the state’s high average median household income. The most opportunity is in areas were youth academic and economic inclusion are highest. States with a high percentage of “Teenagers (16-19) Not in School and Not Working” have limited opportunity. States with low opportunity scores, the Index found, tend to have higher military recruitment rates.
Connecticut, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Vermont and Nebraska offer residents the most opportunity, according to the Index, while Alabama, Arkansas, West Virginia, Mississippi and Nevada provide the least.
Meanwhile, Starbucks is attempted to give the economy a caffeinated jolt with its “Create Jobs for USA initiative, which launched last week. Created in partnership with the Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), a national network of community development financial institutions, the program kicked off with $5 million has brewed up a “Create Jobs for USA” initiative, which will pool donations from Starbucks customers, Starbucks employees and “concerned citizens” into a nationwide fund for community business lending.
“Small businesses are the backbone of America, employing more than half of all private sector workers” Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in a statement. “But this critical jobs engine has stalled. We’ve got to thaw the chanels of credit so that community businesses can start hiring again.” Starbucks has stirred the pot with an initial $5 million.
Donations will be accepted online at http://www.createjobsforusa.organd at nearly 6,800 company-operated Starbucks stores. All proceeds will go to OFN to help fund loans to community businesses.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.