By Deborah Smolover. Deborah Smolover is a Managing Partner of New Profit and Executive Director of America Forward.
If you had five minutes with each candidate running for President, what would you want them to know? What game-changing policy proposals do our community of innovators want to see signed into law in the first 100 days after the next inauguration? With a press hungry for new stories during one of the longest campaign cycles in history, how can we inspire them to spotlight innovative local solutions ready to transform into national change?
Every four years America Forward tackles these questions head-on. And this campaign cycle we are starting earlier than ever before, with presidential campaigns in full swing more than 18 months before Election Day 2020.
Today, we are proud to announce the launch of United to Move America Forward: Campaign Engagement 2020, our Coalition’s presidential engagement campaign that will lift up our organizations’, our social entrepreneurs’, and our communities’ issues to the national agenda, and elevate our innovative policy ideas to the full slate of 2020 candidates. The field is packed with 25 declared candidates, many of whom are current officeholders, and the time is now ripe to lift up innovative solutions that can bring our country together to ensure our government is working for all communities.
Earlier this month, America Forward began a series of roundtable discussions to bring together organization leaders across sectors to discuss the challenges they face as they try to improve life outcomes for people in their communities and throughout the country. We heard about the barriers caused by antiquated federal laws and structures that often prevent meaningful change on the ground and at a broader systemic level. We also heard bold new ideas of how government can work better to overcome those barriers through innovative new policy approaches.
In roundtable discussions in Washington D.C., New York, Boston, and San Francisco, several shared themes emerged in dialogues with organization leaders working with young children, opportunity youth, displaced workers, and individuals engaged in a year of national service. We heard that the next President needs to implement policies that restore faith in democracy, demand that government funding is tied to results, incorporate whole child approaches to education, address the needs of today’s postsecondary students, meet the challenge of preparing today’s workers for the future of work, increase equity and opportunity, elevate youth voice, tackle social determinants of health, and expand national service.
We will continue our listening tour across the country into the summer and bring more voices to the table. But, there’s one thing we know already: Our communities know what they need, and whoever prevails in the presidential race must embrace policies that ensure that every child in this country has the opportunity for a successful future and that every person who has fallen off the path of opportunity has a second chance at a successful life. As one roundtable participant said, “local is the laboratory of democracy,” and, as we heard from another, “social entrepreneurs can be the new bridge to a new democracy.”
Now the hard job begins as we develop specific policy proposals to bring to the candidates and their campaigns, and work to raise those ideas in the national agenda. Over the next year, we will collaborate with our Coalition organizations to develop a policy briefing book and policy white papers to socialize our ideas with every presidential campaign. From now through Election Day, we will engage with campaign policy staffs, offer site visits, and host campaign roundtables and forums. Our community is energized. We’re ready to engage.
America is looking for policy solutions that can once again unite our country. Every day, America Forward organizations work tirelessly to unite change-makers across sectors to create catalytic policy change, unite social innovation and evidence-based policies with novel funding methods, and unite local communities with national policymakers. Beginning today, and working together throughout the 2020 election cycle, our community of innovators will become United to Move America Forward.
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