Other Group

The Opportunity Agenda




New York, NY


Ellen Buchman



The Opportunity Agenda is a left-of-center organization that advocates for left-of-center positions on issues including immigration, education, and racial policy. The organization is a project of the Tides Center, a large left-progressive fiscal sponsorship organization. 1


The Opportunity Agenda performs the bulk of its advocacy through executive training programs and leader outreach. The organization appeals to “artists, creatives, and culture makers,” to shift public discourse on issues such as race, immigration, gender issues, and environmentalism. It offers online resources, such as toolkits, webinars, and workshops, to train nonprofit executives and other notable figures to push Opportunity Agenda’s left-of-center political stances. 2

Media Roundtables

Opportunity Agenda regularly hosts media roundtables with notable figures in public policy. The roundtables serve as a forum to discuss and seek left-of-center solutions for policy issues. Participants are often associated with left-of-center organizations, and there is a regular lack of conservative representation. Past topics have included the decriminalization of narcotics, immigration, and general approaches to leniency in criminal justice. Participants in the round table have come from organizations including the ACLU, LUPE, and UndocuBlack Network. 3


Opportunity Agenda organizes a group of fellows annually to advocate for left-of-center approaches to immigration policy, drug policy, women’s and gender issues, and race issues. Many of the fellows are known for their work with left-of-center civil rights organizations. The most recent class of fellows includes executives from organizations such as the ACLU, one of the largest left-of-center civil rights organizations in the United States; UndocuBlack Network, a left-wing organization which advocates for the abolition of border security measures; and Color of Change, a website that hosts petitions advocating for left-of-center policy implementation. 4


Ellen Buchman is the executive director for Opportunity Agenda. Buchman previously worked as the executive vice president for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a left-of-center civil rights organization. Buchman also worked for a number of other left-of-center organizations including Citizen Action, an organization that supports issues such as government-controlled health care, and as a field director for the American Association of University Women, a left-of-center organization that advocates left-of-center solutions to gender issues. 5

Alan Jenkins served as executive director and co-founder for Opportunity Agenda until his retirement in 2018. Jenkins previously served in numerous positions for several liberal organizations. Most notably, Jenkins worked as the director of human rights for the Ford Foundation, one of the largest left-of-center grantmaking foundations in the United States. Jenkins managed millions of dollars in grant funding, with most of the money going to left-of-center organizations advocating for a wide variety of issues. Jenkins also worked as associate counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the legal policy sister organization of the NAACP. 6


The Opportunity Agenda receives millions of dollars in annual grants from left-of-center and liberal organizations. It received $300,000 in 2019, and $1.5 million in 2018 from the Ford Foundation. 7 8 It also received $1.4 million between 2016 and 2018 from the MacArthur Foundation, a multi-billion dollar foundation that funds a number of left-of-center and liberal organizations,9 and $500,000 in 2013 from Atlantic Philanthropies, a left-of-center organization that funds Democratic candidates for public office as well as a left-of-center nonprofits. 10


  1. “Partner Directory: The Opportunity Agenda.” Tides Center. Accessed November 2, 2020. https://www.tides.org/project/social-venture/the-opportunity-agenda/
  2. “Partner Directory: Opportunity Agenda.” Tides Center. Accessed November 2, 2020. https://www.tides.org/project/social-venture/the-opportunity-agenda/
  3. “Media Roundtables.” Opportunity Agenda. Accessed November 2, 2020. https://www.opportunityagenda.org/pressroom/media-roundtables.
  4. “Our Fellows.” Opportunity Agenda. Accessed November 2, 2020. https://www.opportunityagenda.org/pressroom/our-fellows
  5. “User Profile: Ellen Buchman.” LinkedIn. Accessed November 2, 2020. https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/american-association-of-university-women-aauw/
  6. “Alan Jenkins Profile.” Harvard Law School Faculty Directory. Accessed November 1, 2020. https://hls.harvard.edu/faculty/directory/11522/Jenkins
  7. “Grants Database.” Ford Foundation. Accessed November 2, 2020. https://www.fordfoundation.org/work/our-grants/grants-database/grants-all?search=%26SearchText%3Dtides&page=0&minyear=2019&maxyear=2019
  8. “Grants Database.” Ford Foundation. Accessed November 2, 2020. https://www.fordfoundation.org/work/our-grants/grants-database/grants-all?search=%26SearchText%3Dtides&page=0&minyear=2018&maxyear=2018
  9. “Grants Database.” MacArthur Foundation. Accessed November 2, 2020. https://www.macfound.org/grantees/9461/
  10. “Grants Database.” Atlantic Philanthropies. Accessed November 2, 2020. https://www.atlanticphilanthropies.org/grants/opportunity-agenda

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Tracy Van Slyke
    Former Fellow
  2. Julie Rowe
    Director of Narrative, Training, and Journalism
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The Opportunity Agenda

New York, NY