Successes from The Opportunity Agenda

The Foundation learned yesterday about two exciting developments courtesy of The Opportunity Agenda. Their efforts to translate the values and ideas of opportunity and human rights into public policy are clearly paying off.

The first is that the Obama Administration has included language proposed by The Opportunity Agenda that requires all federal agencies to adhere to the full range of equal opportunity laws in their implementation of the economic stimulus package. Specifically, thanks to the efforts of its frequent partner the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the Administration used its language in the Office of Management and Budget’sInitial Implementing Guidance” for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

So what does this mean exactly? Well it means that agencies must ensure that federally-funded projects have neither an intentional nor an unintended discriminatory impact based on race, gender, disability, language ability and other grounds. And it cuts across diverse sectors, from employment, to housing, to education, to transportation, to lending, and beyond. The OMB guidance is a crucial step in The Opportunity Agenda’s State of Opportunity Initiative, which seeks to ensure that economic recovery efforts expand opportunity for all communities. If you want to read OMB’s full memorandum it is available here.
The Opportunity Agenda reports that its next step will be to push for implementation of this mandate at the federal, state and local level, in collaboration with their partners around the country.
The second exciting development is that the organization’s opinion research was recently used in the Montana Legislature’s recent hearings on the human right to health in that state. You can find a recording of the hearing here. Pioneering Montana lawmakers and advocates, along with its partner the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, have been at the forefront of the effort to establish health care as a domestic human right consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As part of its US Human Rights Initiative, The Opportunity Agenda is providing opinion research, communications tools, advocate training, and policy ideas to advance this goal.
Congratulations to all the hard work being done by everyone over at The Opportunity Agenda!