Sunday evening brought to a close an inspiring and transformational weekend at the Stand Together Summit in Palm Springs, California.
The theme: Stand Together to Help Every Person Rise.
Stand Together unites people from all walks of life to remove the barriers that are holding people back so that everyone can realize their American dream.
Hundreds of social entrepreneurs, business leaders, teachers, scholars, policy makers, leaders of community-based nonprofits, and more came together to tackle the biggest challenges facing our country and to find ways of making progress at a time when our country is increasingly divided.
Stand Together founder Charles Koch described the challenge—and the unique opportunity—this way: “We must create a thriving society, where everyone can reach their full potential. But the current debates in our country are taking us off target—way off. Our plan is to present a better alternative… it starts by demanding: No more false choices.”
Hear Charles Koch talk about how his deep belief in people drives Stand Together’s efforts:
Together, we can elevate the voices of millions of Americans who are looking for a better way and spark movements that transform how our country tackles its biggest challenges.
People don’t have to settle for false choices between two bad ideas. And they don’t have to accept that some problems are just too big to solve. There has to be a better way. And there is.
Here are six opportunities we discussed at the Summit where we are helping to empower millions to chart a better way together:
In education, the debate has for too long been a false choice: Public school and private schools. In reality, there are good public schools and good private schools. But there are also too many of both that rely on teaching to the test. This one-size-fits-all approach stifles teachers’ passion for education, and it prevents many students from realizing their potential.
That’s why yes. every kid—an organization in the Stand Together community—is uniting with parents, students, teachers, and policy makers to develop a better way in education that emphasizes individualized learning that focuses on helping every person discover and develop their unique gifts.
See how this approach is bringing people together on education:
In addressing poverty, we see another false choice: Either double-down on programs that make poverty a little easier to endure but harder to escape or take a do-nothing attitude that says people should pull themselves up by the bootstraps.
Presented with these options, it’s not surprising that more than 80 percent of the American people say they are dissatisfied with how we currently address poverty.
That’s why Stand Together supports 168 community-based organizations that are empowering people to break the cycle of poverty for good.
Community First! Village, a project of Mobile Loaves, is one of them. Based in Austin, Texas, Community First! is a community specially built to help hundreds of people who are experiencing chronic homelessness. Not only does its approach provide housing, but it provides support and meaningful relationships to help people rebuild their lives. Mobile Loaves is now in a position to grow, and they have a plan to replicate their approach in cities across the country.
See how Mobile Loaves & Fishes is helping people experiencing homelessness transform their lives:
Today, our immigration system is broken. And this dysfunction allows voices on the extremes to dominate the conversion. One side calls for drastic cuts to legal immigration, while the other side wants to abolish the federal agency and laws designed to keep dangerous people out of our country.
These extreme views don’t reflect the true beliefs of most Americans. 75% of Americans believe immigration is good and most support taking reasonable measures to secure the border.
And that makes sense: America should let in anyone who will contribute to our society and keep out anyone who will do us harm.
That’s why Stand Together is launching several initiatives to help people make their voices heard on immigration. One of them is called Common Ground. Launched in October in Miami, Common Ground is an exhibit that emphasizes the shared values that can unite Americans on immigration.
We’ve already seen a tremendous response, including requests to bring the exhibit to dozens more cities. And later this year, Common Ground will be featured at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions and at SXSW.
In this video, see how Common Ground can help change the conversation
America must have a strong military. But our country must be more realistic about what military force can achieve. Today’s foreign policy has led to seemingly endless wars—creating moral, fiscal, constitutional, and security problems.
14,700 Americans have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 970,000 veterans have returned from recent wars with injuries. And American taxpayers have spent more than $6 trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—more than military operations in World War I and II combined—yet global terrorism has actually been on the rise since 2001.
In fact, 69% of veterans and most of the public support ending the war in Afghanistan.
That’s why Concerned Veterans for America has launched efforts like End Endless Wars, a national campaign to elevate the voices of veterans, military families, and concerned citizens to transform how our country engages in foreign policy by emphasizing realism and restraint.
Economic opportunity has helped countless people succeed, but it’s at risk from unsustainable government spending. This recklessness doesn’t just drive up the national debt—it also fuels special interest politics, or cronyism, where well-connected get handouts or other special favors from their friends in Washington.
That’s wrong—and the American people know it. 70 percent of Americans agree that the economy is rigged to favor special interests. And 84 percent believe politicians have too much power over the economy.
That’s why Stand Together launched Unrig, a nationwide grassroots effort to spark a movement to end cronyism in all its forms.
See how grassroots activists are bringing people together to work for good policy
In politics, most people feel they have to choose between extremes that don’t represent their true beliefs—or settle for intense partisanship that often stands in the way of good ideas. In fact, nearly 60 percent of Americans don’t feel represented by either party.
The better way is to make good policy good politics: Uniting nonpartisan policy coalitions around shared values and goals.
That’s why Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Prosperity Action—two organizations in the Stand Together Community—support grassroots efforts to elevate the voices of millions of Americans who want a better way in politics. These efforts support policymakers who will get good things done—regardless of party. With this approach, Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Prosperity Action see more opportunity to make a difference in politics and are planning to engage in more elections than ever before.
Uniting a diversity of voices
These six opportunities discussed at the Summit are just a few of the initiatives Stand Together is supporting to help forge a better way together.
The only way to transform how our country tackles the biggest challenges of our time is to do so together. That’s why Stand Together is inviting people from all walks of life to join us in these efforts, working with people wherever we can find common ground—even if it’s just one issue.
Let’s Stand Together to help every person rise.