Trust in our elected leaders is at an all-time low, and this election cycle is not doing anyone any favors. Yet, in the midst of the partisan posturing, in September US Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced a bipartisan bill, the Two-Generation Economic Empowerment Act, to increase opportunities for families living in poverty through programs targeting both children and their parents together. The Two-Generation Economic Empowerment Act is an example of how bipartisan leadership is still possible and able to break through gridlock. The joint action of these senators is emblematic of the “Aspen Idea” – that leaders can come together around shared values to confront some of the most pressing challenges facing society.
The Two-Generation Economic Empowerment Act is aimed at increasing families’ economic security, educational success, and health and well-being. By aligning existing systems and funding streams that cross early learning and care, workforce, and housing, the Act will make a difference in the lives of children and families while making services more effective, something we can all get behind.
At Ascend at the Aspen Institute, we are energized by this legislative breakthrough, which is a culmination of years of work with partners around the country, including community leaders from New Mexico and Maine.
The next president has an opportunity to act on this groundswell in support of common sense strategies to support families who need it.
“While we’ve seen signs of economic recovery, far too many families in New Mexico and across the nation are still struggling to make ends meet and can’t escape multigenerational poverty,” said Senator Heinrich.
It has been more than 50 years since President Johnson declared a “war on poverty,” noted Senator Collins.
“Millions of Americans still struggle to find the resources they need to meet the basic necessities of life. The bill marks an important first step toward reevaluating our approach to poverty-reducing programs and encouraging innovative, more effective uses of taxpayer dollars,” she said.
All families want to thrive and reach their full potential. We know that if we support families holistically and reduce the barriers they face, both children and parents will be more successful. This effort builds on an exciting movement of innovation and collaboration bubbling up in communities and states across the country – a movement that is focusing on serving children and parents together, and combining key services such as child care and workforce policies in ways that make sense for families.
The 2Gen Act is a positive and concrete step forward to ensure the “American Dream” of opportunity can pass from one generation to the next. We call on the incoming president and other national and state leaders to join forward-thinking organizations around the country in breaking the cycle of poverty for this generation and generations to come.