Alan Jenkins

Alan Jenkins is the executive director of The Opportunity Agenda, a communications, research, and advocacy organization with the mission of building the national will to expand opportunity in America.

Recent Articles

Recovering Opportunity

Racial barriers continue to hold back millions of Americans -- and our economy.

(iStockphoto)
When he signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) -- the economic stimulus package -- President Barack Obama promised it would "begin the process of restoring the economy and making America a stronger and more prosperous nation." The act invests some $787 billion in unemployment assistance, tax cuts, support to cash-strapped state governments, job creation, job training, education, and infrastructure. Less noticed but just as important is the act's commitment to securing more equitable opportunity for all Americans. In its text and in its implementation, the act holds the potential for a transformative shift toward greater equity in our economy. But fulfilling the potential of this little-noticed mission of equal opportunity will require vigilance, activism, and innovation. With an African American president, it is tempting to think that racial and ethnic barriers to opportunity are largely a thing of the past. More prominent in progressive circles is the idea...

Inequality, Race, and Remedy

Our nation, at its best, pursues the ideal that what we look like and where we come from should not determine the benefits, burdens, or responsibilities that we bear in our society. Because we believe that all people are created equal in terms of rights, dignity, and the potential to achieve great things, we see inequality based on race, gender, and other social characteristics as not only unfortunate but unjust. The value of equality, democratic voice, physical and economic security, social mobility, a shared sense of responsibility for one another, and a chance to start over after misfortune or missteps -- what many Americans call redemption -- are the moral pillars of the American ideal of opportunity. Many Americans of goodwill who want to reduce poverty believe that race is no longer relevant to understanding the problem, or to fashioning solutions for it. This view often reflects compassion as well as pragmatism. But we cannot solve the problem of poverty -- or, indeed, be the...