As an often acrimonious political climate polarizes policy discussions across government, the disconnect between coastal city dwellers and the rest of the country has only grown. Middle America feels left behind as a changing economy, increased globalization, and cuts to vital social programs pose new challenges to its communities. In April, the Institute’s Ascend program went to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where it brought together 200 leaders working in the service of children and families from all over the country and across the political spectrum. Along with CAP Tulsa, one of the largest anti-poverty agencies in Oklahoma, Ascend held the first-ever 2Gen Practice Institute. Participants represented a variety of organizations, including the United Way, Catholic Charities, Goodwill, and Head Start. The event focused on serving families through two-generation programs that meet the needs of children and the adults in their lives together.
Most important, it was an opportunity to hear from Oklahoma parents about the realities of their lives and what types of supports would be most helpful. Rich dialogue in more than 20 breakout sessions over three days armed participants with new partnerships and tools, and with renewed purpose and ideas.