The Opportunity Institute is a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote social and economic mobility, with a general focus on educational opportunities. Its education initiatives span across early childhood development, Pre-K through 12th grade, higher education, and juvenile education assistance.
The institute has a number of projects that focus on different areas of education and exists in select states throughout America.
Partners for Each and Every Child is centered on school finance, teaching, early childhood education, poverty, and government relations. This project is implemented in California, Colorado, Mississippi, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, and New Jersey. 1
Renewing Communities is a partnership with the Stanford Criminal Justice Center that aims to assist incarcerated criminals with their transition back into society by assisting with their academic access. According to Stanford, in 2014 no prisoners incarcerated in California were enrolled in face-to-face community college courses. By 2017, all but one state prison had prisoners enrolled for a total of 4,500 students. 2 3
The Opportunity Institute’s leadership includes many left-leaning advocates who have served with or donated to Democratic administrations. They have pushed back against the Trump administration on issues even outside of education, calling the administration’s immigration enforcement policies “unconscionable.” 6
Maria Echaveste is the president and CEO of The Opportunity Institute. Her career spans across high levels of government, education, and private sector policy. Echaveste served as Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton from 1998-2001 after serving as White House Director of Public Liaison from 1997-1998. 7 Prior to her roles in the White House, she was the Clinton administration’s administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor. 8 In the private sector she founded Nueva Vista Group, a public policy lobbying group whose employees have contributed millions of dollars to left-leaning initiatives. 9
President Barack Obama appointed her as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico in 2014, but after a lengthy confirmation process Echaveste withdrew her name from consideration citing family well-being as the reason. 10
Christopher Edley, Jr. is the co-founder and president emeritus. His background is primarily in academic policy and leadership, having served as the dean of Berkeley Law School from 2004-2013. 11 Prior to his tenure at Berkeley, Edley taught at Harvard Law School for 23 years. 12 He has been critical of President Trump specifically regarding school policy. In a co-authored op-ed, Edley suggested that Trump’s policy on student discipline may have contributed to Nikolas Cruz’ murderous rampage at Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018. 13
Tom Steyer is a former chairman of the board of directors. The hedge-fund billionaire has also been a prominent donor to left-leaning political campaigns and initiatives to advance the environmental agenda on global warming. 14 He founded the media campaign Need to Impeach, where he spent over $80 million dollars on ads advocating President Donald Trump’s impeachment. He stepped down from his position as president of the campaign before announcing his own campaign for the Oval Office in 2019. 15 16
- Partners for Each And Every Child. Accessed February 25, 2020. https://partnersforeachandeverychild.org/.
- Ashe, Stephanie. “Joint Study by the Stanford Criminal Justice Center and The Opportunity Institute: California Leads the Nation in College Opportunities for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Students.” Stanford Law School. Accessed February 25, 2020. https://law.stanford.edu/press/joint-study-stanford-criminal-justice-center-opportunity-institute-california-leads-nation-college-opportunities-incarcerated-formerly-incarcerated-students/.
- Silbert, Rebecca, Debbie Mukamal, Rebecca Silbert, Debbie Mukamal, Corrections to College, and Stanford Criminal Justice Center. “How Philanthropy Can Create Public Systems Change (SSIR).” Stanford Social Innovation Review: Informing and Inspiring Leaders of Social Change. Accessed February 25, 2020. https://ssir.org/articles/entry/how_philanthropy_can_create_public_systems_change.
- “Whole Child Equity.” The Opportunity Institute. Accessed February 25, 2020. https://theopportunityinstitute.org/whole-child-equity.
- Strauss, Valerie. “Perspective | Report: The Effect Chronic Stress Has on Children at School – and Why Policymakers Should Care.” The Washington Post. WP Company, May 22, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/05/22/report-effect-chronic-stress-has-children-school-why-policymakers-should-care/.
- Oi. “Process and Protest: After the Immigration Rallies.” The Opportunity Institute. The Opportunity Institute, July 3, 2018. https://theopportunityinstitute.org/blog/2018/7/3/process-and-protest-after-the-immigration-rallies.
- “Maria Echaveste.” C. Accessed February 24, 2020. https://www.c-span.org/person/?mariaechaveste.
- “Maria Echaveste.” GU Politics. Accessed February 24, 2020. http://politics.georgetown.edu/maria-echaveste/.
- “Nueva Vista Group Lobbying Profile.” OpenSecrets. Accessed February 24, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/federal-lobbying/firms/summary?cycle=2019&id=D000036296.
- Dovere, Edward-Isaac. “Mexico Ambassador Nominee Withdraws.” POLITICO, January 30, 2015. https://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/maria-echaveste-mexico-ambassador-nominee-withdraws-114780.
- Ramanathan, Arun, and Christopher Edley Jr. “Open Forum: Unfunded Pensions Are Hurting California Students and Teachers.” SFChronicle.com. San Francisco Chronicle, June 11, 2019. https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Open-Forum-Unfunded-pensions-are-hurting-13966938.php.
- “Christopher Edley, Jr.” Berkeley Law. Accessed February 24, 2020. https://www.law.berkeley.edu/our-faculty/faculty-profiles/christopher-edley/.
- Darling-Hammond, Linda, and Christopher Edley. “Just as Schools Were Becoming Safer, Trump ‘Safety’ Commission Likely to Halt Progress.” TheHill, December 12, 2018. https://thehill.com/opinion/education/421061-just-as-schools-were-becoming-safer-trump-safety-commission-halts-progress.
- Davenport, Coral. “Billionaire Environmentalist to Spend $25 Million to Turn Out Young Voters.” The New York Times. April 25, 2016. Accessed May 03, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/26/us/politics/thomas-steyer-nextgen-climate-change-voters.html.
- Dovere, Edward-Isaac. “Tom Steyer on Impeachment: ‘We Have Won the Argument. Period.’.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, May 29, 2019. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/05/tom-steyer-trump-impeachment/590194/.