Have we let the American Dream die?

The United States has stagnated for 50 years.

Entering school ready to learn, receiving a quality education, securing a good-paying job—the numbers haven’t moved. Measure by race, gender, or geography, and they’ve worsened. Covid-19 and the explosion of racial tensions are setting things back even more.

Trillions of dollars have been spent on myriad policies, programs, and school models—“silver bullets” that haven’t moved the numbers. Progressives and conservatives alike have had some great ideas. But we can’t even agree on the life outcomes to measure progress.

We need a new social contract for the 21st century between institutions and the people they serve.

It needs to put people first, beginning with meeting basic needs and then helping individuals and families meet critical milestones for securing stable, comfortable lives along a pathway to lifelong success.

We’ve found hundreds of local initiatives doing just that: building a new social contract; facilitating the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to work with communities to meet basic needs and reduce disparities along the Pathway to Lifelong Success.

That’s Finding Common Purpose.

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Prenatal to Kindergarten

From a healthy birth to entering kindergarten ready to learn is a critical stage for getting on a pathway to lifelong success. Local initiatives across the country are building the formal early childhood system our nation lacks, one that can ensure a strong handoff to the formal education system.
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Kindergarten to Middle School

Education from kindergarten through middle school—especially math and reading proficiency—are the building blocks of creating academic preparedness for high school and beyond. Initiatives across the country are bringing together schools and nonprofit service providers to ensure students are ready as they move along the pathway to high school.
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High School to Post-Secondary Education/Training

Education and training from high school and beyond is about more than “schooling.” It’s preparation for finding and keeping a good-paying job. Initiatives across the country are building career pathways for young adults, bringing together high schools, two-and four-year colleges, and employers to help prepare them to enter the workforce.
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Entering Workforce to Achieving Stability

The early job years should be stable, providing at least enough to meet basic needs as they allow for beginning to build a long-term financial foundation. Local initiatives are putting systems in place that help people make that kind of progress as they create their futures.
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Building Assets to Financial Security

Income—not employment—is the key indicator of individual and societal health. A combination of benefits and wages should allow individuals and families not only to meet basic needs, but also provide for some leisure and allow for accumulating enough savings so aging is a new life opportunity, not a struggle.
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Healthy Aging to End of Life

As we get older and eventually leave the workforce, new challenges to remaining healthy and secure arise that call for more formalized ways to provide support. Age-friendly communities are emerging and creating the infrastructure needed to support people as they enter this final stage of life.