Opportunity Knocks

I recently had the opportunity to participate in the Opportunity Nation summit, an inspiring bipartisan, cross-sector group of business leaders, nonprofits, elected officials, and young people committed to restoring the American Dream. Much of the focus of the summit was on improving prospects for the 5.5 million young Americans (16 – 24 years old) that are neither in school or working. It was therefore especially fitting that the Opportunity Nation Coalition Plan released at the summit recognized reducing teen and unplanned pregnancy through evidence-based approaches as one of the key ways to move forward. As the report noted, many young people become parents before they say they are ready, which can make it harder to achieve education and career goals.

Most Americans understand this powerful link between the power to decide if and when to get pregnant and opportunity. It is wonderful to see this connection increasingly being recognized by a variety of influential thought leaders as they propose agendas for improving opportunity in America. 

In recent months, groups as diverse as the Center for American Progress, a bipartisan group convened by AEI and Brookings, Opportunity Nation Coalition, Bridgespan, the U.S. Partnership for Mobility from Poverty funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the National Conference of State Legislatures have—each in their own way—highlighted that reducing unplanned pregnancy is one powerful way to improve opportunity, and have identified concrete steps that could make a difference. These include supporting evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs such as the federal Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program and Personal Responsibility Education Program, ensuring all women have information about and access to the most effective and reliable birth control so they can use what’s best for them, using media and technology to reach young people where they are, and changing social norms about intentional childbearing.   

Recent articles in Fast Company and The Atlantic underscore the rationale in compelling ways that will hopefully create even more momentum. Empowering women with information and tools to delay pregnancy until they want to become parents offers both serious economic return on investment and can improve opportunity for multiple generations. And for those who may be afraid birth control is too controversial, fear not. There is broad public support for evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs and birth control is widely supported. We can do this!

Authored by: Andrea Kane

Andrea Kane is the Vice President for Policy and Strategic Partnerships at The National Campaign.  She is responsible for The National Campaign’s public policy program, as well as forging strategic partnerships with a range of public and private sector organizations.  During her time at the Campaign, she has helped launch The National Campaign’s work with community colleges, youth in foster care, and with Latino communities.

From 2001 through 2008, she was also affiliated with the Brookings Institution’s Center on Children and Families in various capacities. Before joining The National Campaign in 2001, Andrea served at the White House Domestic Policy Council as a special assistant to President Clinton. She has also worked at the National Governors’ Association, and at the state and local level in California, Texas, and Virginia.

She studied Government at Smith College, received a BA from Cornell University and an MPA from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.

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