The Opportunity Agenda – Non-Profit Spotlight

Who is The Opportunity Agenda? The Opportunity Agenda is a national public interest organization located in New York City.  We use strategic communications, research, and advocacy to promote greater and more equal opportunity for all Americans.

What is your mission? The Opportunity Agenda’s mission is building the national will to expand opportunity in America. Opportunity is a valuable national resource, as well as a critical national value.  Expanding it requires equal treatment, economic security and mobility, a voice in decisions that affect us, a chance to start over after missteps or misfortune, and Community—the idea that we are all in it together as a nation and society.  We believe that the greatest obstacles to opportunity in our nation stem from a disconnect between our national values and public support for the practices needed to uphold those values.  We therefore work through media, communications, and cultural outreach to build public support, while using policy advocacy to elevate effective solutions.  We work toward greater and more equal opportunity for all, with a focus on groups of Americans, including people of color, women, immigrants, and the LGBT community, who tend to face the steepest obstacles to equality in our society.

What makes your organization so unique in the non-profit space? The Opportunity Agenda leads with communications to move hearts, minds, and policy.  We tap media and popular culture to reach and persuade new audiences.  And we work collaboratively.  Each year, we support hundreds of business and civic leaders committed to greater opportunity, to help them communicate that mission more effectively in the media, in the boardroom, and with other stakeholders.

We conduct public opinion and media research; produce recommended talking points on issues of diversity, opportunity, and inclusion; train spokespeople on effective delivery of those messages to different audiences; place experts in the media; and provide rapid response to breaking issues.  We also work with artists and media producers to help tell the story of why opportunity for all is core to our values and in our shared interest.

Finally, we elevate what works.  Through active partnerships, we synthesize and translate research on barriers to opportunity and effective solutions into forms that key decision makers can easily customize and implement for their needs.  We identify and advocate for policies that improve people’s lives and strengthen our society.

What is your organization up to at the moment & how can CUP Members be involved? In preparation for a pending Supreme Court case, we are working to preserve the ability of private and pubic institutions to voluntarily foster diversity and inclusion.  On October 10th, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas, a constitutional challenge to the University of Texas’s use of affirmative action in its college admissions.  A decision in the case is expected in the spring of 2013.

In order to promote a diverse student body and overcome obstacles to educational opportunity facing many students, the University considers how qualified students’ racial or ethnic background will add to the diversity of each entering class, along with academic achievement, leadership qualities, artistic talent and other characteristics.  The Supreme Court will consider whether it is constitutional for universities to use their educational judgment to foster a student body that is both exceptionally academically qualified and broadly diverse.

The Court’s decision will almost certainly apply to all university admissions policies around the country.  But because similar legal principles govern diversity and inclusion in the workplace, the Court’s decision in Fisher could also affect the flexibility that corporations and other employers currently have voluntarily to promote employment diversity and inclusion.  Over fifty Fortune 100 and other leading American businesses filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case “to reaffirm the significance of diversity in higher education to America’s largest businesses.”

Public communications by the business and civic sectors can help to inform the outcome of the case, and to build support for an effective response to the Court’s decision, whatever that turns out to be.

The Opportunity Agenda is helping leaders committed to equal opportunity and inclusion to communicate why promoting diversity among qualified candidates is both constitutional and in our national interest.  We are translating opinion research, recommending messages, preparing spokespeople, and helping key leaders tell their story to their stakeholders and constituencies.  We are also asking business leaders what they need to communicate effectively on this issue.

CUP Members can learn about the case, receive our messaging advice, participate in communications strategy, volunteer as spokespeople, and support the work of The Opportunity Agenda.

WANT MORE INFORMATION??

To receive our communications resources, provide input, or participate in outreach, sign up here.  To support our work, click here.  And to learn more about The Opportunity Agenda’s other activities, visit us at www.OpportunityAgenda.org.

Remember:  Let us know that you heard about us through the Council of Urban Professionals!