Closing the Opportunity Gap

Our kids are the most precious commodity that we all share – not just the children in our immediate family, but all of our children – those who live in every neighborhood in our community.

All kids deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential, but only some get the chance.

Kids from low-income families have less access to everything from quality early childhood education to advanced placement courses in high school to sports and enrichment activities that provide mentoring and team-building skills. They fare worse academically, are less likely to go to college, less able to get good jobs, less able to contribute to their communities.

Robert Putnam, one of the world’s most renowned political scientists and author of “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis” has coined this trend the “opportunity gap.”

The starkly unequal access to opportunity facing America’s children has the potential to wreak social and economic havoc if something is not done to reverse current trends.

  • Forty-three percent of children born into the bottom economic quintile in America remain stuck in that circumstance as adults.
  • In Alabama, we have 27.5% of children living below the poverty level.

Solving these problems is not only a social obligation; it is an economic imperative.

The Foundation’s “Closing the Opportunity Gap Initiative” is aimed at narrowing the opportunity gap for financially fragile families in our eight-county area.

We have joined the Community Foundation Opportunity Network (CFON) comprised of over 50 foundations across the county.  The network will give community foundations the opportunity to speak with a collective voice about youth opportunity on a national scale, and connect practitioners working at the grassroots level with policymakers, thought leaders and funders at the regional and national levels.

Strong, thriving children grow into capable adults who can contribute to a prosperous and sustainable society.

We cannot afford for any of our kids to miss out on that opportunity.

Project Play

Only 40% of kids ages 6-12 regularly played team sports in 2013, down from 44.5% in 2008, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. In schools serving low-income youth, only 1 in 4 students play sports. Gender, race, and family income have a direct impact on child participation in sports. The goal is to get every child in the game. Sport For All, Play For Life!

Taking Action

The Foundation is engaging our communities in three areas aimed at narrowing the gap:  FAMILY, EDUCATION, and WORK.

The Foundation is focusing on four areas to provide opportunities for all of our kids.

Specifically, we are investing in the following:

  • Increasing youth access to extracurricular activities
  • Promoting parenting education
  • Expanding opportunities to help young people get well-paying jobs
  • Increasing public investment in preschool education

In the months and years ahead, we will be reaching out to you for your involvement and assistance in making this effort a reality.