A blueprint for community-based solutions to economic inequality in America
Contrary to popular belief—and despite widespread pessimism that the American Dream is a dying concept—solutions that can remake the United States into the land of economic opportunity for all already exist. Over the past ten years, Ben Hecht has watched leaders in local communities, fed up with the political paralysis in Washington, D.C., and unable to ignore growing disparities in their own backyards, experiment with new ways of solving old problems. The twelve strategies highlighted in this book emerged from that experimentation. Taken together, they outline a blueprint for a new way of working that will rekindle the promise of America everywhere: better education, increased income and wealth, expanded access to opportunity, and more.
These strategies are not academic theories or one-offs only possible in wealthy, coastal cities. Each strategy has been proven to get results time and time again—many of them, in fact, in hundreds of urban and rural communities. Each chapter highlights the stories of the real people who are making change happen. In rural Southwest Texas, Luis Silos recently graduated from high school having earned both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree, at no cost. He joins tens of thousands of students across twenty-eight states who have benefited from similar efforts. In St. Paul, Minneapolis, a down-payment assistance and flexible mortgage program enabled Jon Li to not only achieve his dream of homeownership but to generate enough income and wealth to launch his own business that supports sixty workers. More than 50,000 Americans in forty-eight states have had similar success, building more than $20,000 in equity, on average, in the process.
Every one of these proposed solutions can be implemented without any changes in laws or regulations. The barriers to implementation are simply resistance on the part of individuals to change their own behaviors. Each of us—whether as an elected leader, engaged resident, corporate CEO, philanthropist, or investor—can act right now to take the future into our own hands and help to level the playing field for struggling Americans, everywhere.
Above all, this book provides optimism at a time when so many Americans fear for the economic future of their families and the nation.