Realizing the Opportunity of America's Increasing Diversity

America is changing -- and we need an all hands on deck approach to build an economy that is strong, sustainable, and provides opportunities for all.

Already the majority of babies born in the United States are Latino, Asian, Native American, African American, and other people of color. In the near future, people of color will constitute the majority of our labor force and voting population. What we do -- or don't do -- today to prepare our increasingly diverse youth and workforce will determine how well America will fare in the global, hyper-connected economy of tomorrow.

This is why at PolicyLink, we say that equity is the superior growth model for America's Tomorrow. Fairness has become more than a moral issue -- it is now an economic imperative.

Philanthropic leaders can and should play a major role in advancing a new economic model based on fairness and inclusion, and many foundation leaders are rising to the challenge. Phillip Henderson, president of the Surdna Foundation, is demonstrating essential leadership in this area, and recently wrote in EquityBlog:

"At Surdna we are interested in sustainable communities, and we have a strong sense that social justice and equity are critical to making our communities livable, prosperous, and ultimately sustainable ... This is a more fundamental observation," he continues, "about how we need to embrace what our nation is becoming and turn what some would fear -- a growing proportion of our communities becoming majority people of color -- into a source of economic and social strength."

I spend a good deal of my time traveling from one city to another, visiting exemplary programs and lending my support to projects working to increase access to healthy food, provide job training, and establish public-private partnerships like Promise Neighborhoods, which provide cradle to college opportunities that enable young children to finish college, build a career, and make a contribution to the greater good.

I am heartened by the work I've seen and the commitments made by philanthropic as well as corporate partners. They maintain my faith that together, we can create a tomorrow where everyone participates and prospers. Henderson concludes that building an equitable economy "is no small feat. It requires a broad and deep attitudinal shift that's not about the political left finally selling the rest of America on social justice. It's about helping all of us see a path forward."

I couldn't agree more.

Read Phillip Henderson's full statement on EquityBlog.