I recently attended City Year New Hampshire’s Starry Starry Night gala with my employee colleagues. At the event, Robert D. Putnam, New Hampshire resident, and Malkim Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University, was honored with the Lifetime of Service Award in recognition of his work across the country to examine the growing opportunity gap between the children of the wealthiest and poorest in our society. Putnam describes this program in Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, and this is what City Year Corp Members witness every day while working with students in one of six public schools in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Unfortunately, this story is not unique. Fifty or sixty years ago when communities were talking about “our kids” they meant every child in the community. Now, more and more, when a person says “our kids” they really mean my own children. The focus has shifted from wanting every child to succeed to wanting only the best for THEIR children. Putnam’s work is critical and I hope that it continues to have a positive impact on a growing problem. I encourage all of you to read Putman’s book. While it is disheartening what has happened to many communities in the United States, I think we can slowly move things in the right direction to make sure all of “our kids” have access to extracurricular activities, responsible mentors, and, most importantly, a bright future.