A FEW WEEKS AGO, I had a chance to visit with Robert Putnam, the renowned Harvard professor, counselor to every recent U.S. President, and author of the 1996 book, Bowling Alone.
In his newest book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, Putnam ties together a significant amount of fresh research that brings the American Dream into the modern light of day. The image isn’t pretty.
We’ve long believed that each child, regardless of their background, can take advantage of hard work, determination and a good education to map their course in life. After all, we live in the Land of Opportunity.
However, Putnam points out the relatively recent phenomenon of an “opportunity gap” that now exists in America. It’s getting much harder for poor kids to change the trajectory of their lives. Many don’t even have a fighting chance.
Thankfully, Putnam proposes several strategies, including:
• Encourage stable, caring families – especially with policies targeted at low-income families and prison reform for nonviolent crime;
• Create high-quality early childhood programs;
• Help (often single) parents build parenting skills, such as through coaching and home visits;
• Improve public education, especially in high poverty schools; and
• Provide mentoring support for low-income kids.
Much of CFT’s influence is already aimed at these areas. Many donor-advised funds are used that way. Through Community Impact and Caruth grants, we’re helping to build financial stability for low-income working families and providing mentoring support. Educate Texas strengthens the public education system statewide. Plus, there is so much smart momentum in our community around early childhood programs.
Still, there’s a long way to go if the chance for anyone to be a thriving part of American life will be more than a dream from days gone by. We’re proud to help continue that work alongside you.
President and CEO