The American story is defined by the simple fact that where a person begins in life does not dictate where they will end up. Tens of millions of people from all walks of life, many of whom started with very little, have built prosperous lives and achieved great things in America. However, the American Dream feels increasingly out of reach for too many people, the result of a two-tiered system that makes it too hard for too many to get ahead. We’re working to reverse that trend by making it easier for all Americans, no matter their station in life, to grab hold of the economic ladder and rise. We are working toward a system in which everyone has access to opportunity and government grants privilege to no one. All people should be empowered to earn success, contribute to their communities, and live meaningful lives—regardless of their starting point.
We want an economy that makes it easier for everyone to grab hold of the economic ladder and rise.
Our vision in action
- Meeting the moment during the pandemic – the Stand Together community helped launch SkillUp, a coalition connecting workers with transformational opportunities to gain new skills and secure in-demand jobs. The SkillUp Together Fund provides grants for Americans displaced by COVID-19 to cover the cost of training, equipment, and special support services. There are currently over 37,000 workers upskilling on the platform.
- Americans for Prosperity united citizens in states across the country to encourage policymakers to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, saving the typical family of four more than $2,000.
- Americans for Prosperity – Ohio led landmark comprehensive regulatory reform, streamlining the state’s regulatory system in order to deliver better results at a much lower cost to families, workers, and businesses.
- Alfa Demmellash and Alex Forrester founded Rising Tide Capital to help low-income entrepreneurs. The results: average household incomes of the people they serve increase by nearly 50 percent within two years. Today, Alfa and Alex are partnering with Stand Together Foundation to make an even greater impact by scaling their model across the country to empower more people.
“Entrepreneurs are the very heart of what the American Dream is all about.” —Alfa Demmellash, founder of Rising Tide Capital.
Guiding principles and insights
Let’s close the opportunity gap and boost economic mobility
To put it bluntly, today’s economic system not only denies too many people sufficient opportunity to rise, but also the very belief they can do so. Millennials are the first generation to be worse off than their parents at the same point in life. Data show those who grow up in poor families are more likely to stay poor through adulthood. Additionally, more than 40 percent of the country thinks America’s best days are behind us.
These trends are due to barriers in education, business, communities, and government that make it harder to increase economic mobility. This is an injustice, and the Stand Together community is partnering with social entrepreneurs to remove these barriers holding people back, including:
- Volunteer activists with Americans for Prosperity who are uniting citizens to reduce the cost and burden of government on everyone who participates in our economy, including workers, families, employers, and entrepreneurs. They are doing so by reducing the burden of taxes so people can keep more of what they earn and invest back in our economy; reforming the regulatory system to make it easier to engage in meaningful work and start a new business; and fighting to rein in excessive government spending that threatens our economic stability today and in the future.
- Leaders at 75+ programs that are helping Americans gain the skills and access the resources they need to climb the socioeconomic ladder, such as workforce development, financial literacy, and access to capital.
There is no silver bullet or single solution to this problem. It requires uniting educators, community and business leaders, and policymakers of all parties to fix it.
Economic opportunity is the most effective anti-poverty program in history.
Expand the Great Enrichment to all by eliminating special favors for the few
We’re fortunate to be living in the Great Enrichment, the most prosperous period in human history. Starting in the early 1800s, it was built in part on the establishment of equal rights and a recognition that people can work and do business together voluntarily to their mutual benefit.
This country has never lived up fully to this ideal, sometimes falling far short. But to the extent that we have followed these principles, our country has flourished—increasing Americans’ standard of living by as much as 3,000 percent in the last two centuries alone.
But the pace of progress has stalled for too many. Nearly three-in-five people have less than $1,000 in savings, and two-in-five Americans say they would have trouble covering an emergency that cost $400.
So, what’s happening? Why are so many being left behind? Part of the answer is that public policy barriers have rigged the system in favor of a few, against everyone else.
Policies like corporate welfare have created a system in which success for some comes at the expense of others. In a recent six-year period, for example, the federal government doled out $4.4 trillion to just the top 200 U.S. companies, costing roughly $35,000 per household.
Our regulatory system has become so burdensome and complex that small businesses report spending more than $80,000 on compliance in their first year of operation—providing a steep advantage to large businesses that can more easily absorb such added costs. Meanwhile, other policies like occupational licenses often stack the deck against the unemployed by requiring them to sometimes pay thousands of dollars and endure hundreds of hours of training to simply enter their chosen profession.
We want to ensure more people are able to experience the benefits from the Great Enrichment. We’re working to build an economic system in which the only way to succeed is by benefiting others. Among other reforms, that means advancing equal rights by eliminating all special government favors—whether they be subsidies, tax credits, or anticompetitive regulations.
More examples of the work supported by the Stand Together community:
- The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is one of the nation’s top authorities on economic policy, producing research to inform public policy reforms in Washington, D.C. and states across the country.
- The Ciocca Center for Principled Entrepreneurship at Catholic University brings together business professionals, academics and students to address current business issues and develop projects to grow companies, lift communities and allow individuals to flourish.
- Workforce development programs such as Cara equip thousands of people each year with the values and skills to break the cycle of homelessness and experience earned success. Cara is one of 40+ such programs across the country Stand Together Foundation is partnering with.
- Financial freedom and access to capital programs are bridging the economic divide, like dfree® — the only faith-based wealth-building system designed specifically with the African-American community in mind.
- Build broad-based policy coalitions across party lines to reduce corporate welfare and cronyism in the federal government and in state capitals across the country.
- Reduce occupational licensing laws and regulations in dozens of states, removing one of the biggest barriers facing entry-level workers and aspiring entrepreneurs.
- Protect workers’ rights, including helping to enact five right-to-work laws since 2012, among other reforms.
- Support policy champions at all levels of government who take principled stands against special interests, even—and especially—when it’s the hard thing to do.
Our community is uniting people to abolish today’s two-tiered system that makes it too hard for too many to get ahead. We are working toward a system where government grants privilege to no one and everyone has an opportunity to rise—regardless of their starting point in life.