Last week, I attended the second Opportunity Nation Summit in our nation’s capital, where many prominent movers and shakers gathered to reassess the challenges plaguing the legacy of social mobility evoked by the “American Dream.” We recognize that the challenges are immense, but I left the conference with a renewed sense of purpose and the feeling that we are all in this together.
Last year, I wrote about the Opportunity Index, an innovative measure of social mobility created through collaboration by Measure of America and the Opportunity Nation teams. At the time, I was living in the Mississippi Delta, so I was extremely dismayed by the lack of opportunity present there. Now, I feel conflicted because the revised index reiterated the stark contrast (and 20-point gap) between Mississippi, ranked #50, and Massachusetts, ranked #6. I’m no longer in the Delta, but I still carry what I saw there with me and still worry about it’s future. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts prospers in part due to a great sense of community pride, in which you you feel like no one is truly happy unless everyone is afforded a certain standard of living. To be candid, that’s simply not an ethic you get from Mississippi; however, I’m proud of my friends and former colleagues who are continuing to do solid work there.
As for me, I was honored to be on stage in order to state my commitment to action based on our Shared Plan of Action. I was a little nervous due to standing next to Governor Deval Patrick shortly before my brief part, but here’s what I would have said as scribed:
My name is Anthony Britt and I serve as a Program Manager at City Year Boston. I’m excited about this plan because as a Teach for America corps member in Mississippi, I saw everyday that overcoming a lack of opportunity requires a true community effort extending beyond an effective teacher in the classroom.
I will activate our plan by leading a team of 12 young adults, who, as mentors, are dedicated to keeping students in school and on track to graduate primarily through academic and behavior coaching. Mentorship provides additional support that is mission critical to the success of all students.
I am committed to taking action with Opportunity Nation through City Year because we don’t wait around for things to get better; we make better happen.
I hope you will join us.
Anthony Britt is a City Year Boston Program Manager. This post represents his own perspective and not necessarily those of City Year or AmeriCorps.