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Look around. You didn’t get to where you are in life by accident.

Why do some people have a life filled with opportunities while others can barely catch a break? And how does this compare to where you are in this moment of your life?

We encourage our children to set the highest goals imaginable. We tell them they can climb, reach and eventually soar. But for some, dreaming of a bright future remains just that: a dream.

Pathways to opportunity in America are unique to each individual; however, for the most part, we can predict who will succeed and who will not based on the conditions of their birth. 

Interactions among global economic forces, government policies, and business practices have generated a self-sustaining set of dynamics that continues to drive disparities in opportunity. 

America's future depends on whether we act now to create policies and interventions that clear the pathways to opportunity for everyone.


The Dynamics of Opportunity in America

Our children are beginning life from very different starting points that place them on disparate trajectories of growth and development, ultimately leading to vastly different adult outcomes. How did we get to a place where circumstances of birth have become so determinative? The Dynamics of Opportunity in America is written by leaders from a range of fields including education, economics, demography, and political science. These authors illuminate key aspects of the problem and offer suggestions for how to reverse harmful trends. Understanding the dynamics of opportunity and transforming this understanding into policies and programs is critical for not only the life outcomes of individual Americans and their children, but also the country as a whole.

Read the Chapters or Buy a Hardcover

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Together, we can create new solutions and programs to expand opportunity for every individual. Visit the ETS email preference center and select “The ETS Opportunity Project” to learn more. 

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Author Nicholas Wyman on Opportunity

June 29, 2016

We connected with Nicholas Wyman, CEO of the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation and author of Job U, about the power of skill building and ways to create alternative pathways when it comes to expanding opportunity.


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An Ongoing Dialogue: Understanding Contributors to the Opportunity Gap

May 13, 2016

The opportunity gap in America is a complex, multi-faceted issue. Stemming from many internal and external factors (early childhood development, changing economies and personal environment, to name a few), the problem of decreasing opportunity in America isn’t just an isolated challenge—it’s a large-scale, societal problem.


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About the Project

The ETS Opportunity Project is an initiative from ETS, the world’s leading nonprofit educational research and assessment organization. The project aims to catalyze a conversation among individuals and organizations interested in and engaged with efforts to reduce disparities in opportunity. Together, we can create an actionable and flexible framework that can guide efforts to restore and redefine pathways to opportunity in America.

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