Big Ideas and New Narratives from the Opportunity Agenda Community

March 29, 2016

Spring has been busy for The Opportunity Agenda’s community. Where you see big ideas and ground-breaking culture, The Opportunity Agenda’s partners and Fellows aren’t hard to find.

Khalil Cumberbatch (CI ’15), ‎Manager of Training and Communications at JustLeadershipUSA, will be featured in the New School Humanities Action Lab's first national exhibit, “States of Incarceration.” The exhibit focuses on local histories of incarceration in 20 cities, and gives people directly impacted by incarceration a forum to share their memories and experiences.

Kassandra Frederique (CI ’15), NY state director for Drug Policy Alliance, is moving innovative policy—she partnered with the mayor and community members to develop and launch The Ithaca Plan, a groundbreaking new drug policy strategy that aims to prevent drug use and sales, reduce overdose deaths and infectious disease, decrease rates of incarceration, expand access to treatment, and save taxpayers money. The comprehensive plan is the first of its kind in the nation and was widely covered in many outlets, including AlterNet’s in-depth look at the recommendations and NPR’s interview with Mayor Myrick.

Recognizing that understanding a problem is the first step to addressing it, two of our partners are innovating with data solutions this month. To help non-profit sector leadership become more representative of the richness of American life, the Building Movement Project is conducting a multistage research project about the barriers that people of color face in becoming non-profit leaders. The final stage of this research is a first-of-its-kind survey of non-profit staff and board members about their experiences at work, views of leadership, and perspectives on nonprofits and race. To participate in this quick survey and contribute to making the non-profit world more diverse, click here.

At the same time, PolicyLink and the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity expanded their National Equity Atlas to include data around school poverty and air pollution, helping local leaders design inclusive policy solutions that are responsive to the needs of their communities.

Creative Change alumni Manauvaskar Kublall (CC '09 and ’10), Beka Economopoulos (CC ’12), Candy Chang (CC ’13), and Lori Hanu (CC ’11) are looking for the truth behind dominant narratives. Manauvaskar’s True Frames video project brings people together around the most pressing issues in education reform, creating opportunity for collaboration in what can be a contentious movement.

Beka and her partners at Not An Alternative are running a multi-platform Mining the HMNS campaign, investigating how corporate donors to the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences shape the Museum’s presentation of the fossil fuel industry and how the industry impacts low-income communities in the city. Candy’s new participatory mural, The Atlas of Tomorrow, is opening in Philadelphia, giving passersby the chance to spin a dial on the wall to select one of 64 fable-like stories along the mural for poetic guidance.  Lori (CC ’11) is challenging the distinction between doing good and leading well in her column with Conscious Company Magazine.

Other members of the Opportunity Agenda community are working to get the message out on how policy can make a profound difference in people’s lives. Roberta Meyers (CI ’15), Director of the Legal Action Center’s National H.I.R.E. Network, wrote in Crain’s New York Business about how removing barriers for job applicants with a criminal history is good for applicants and businesses alike. Pedro Rios of American Friends Service Committee San Diego brought his perspectives to The Hill, one of the most influential publications in the Beltway, about how body-worn cameras for border patrol agents could save lives.