‘Bowling Alone’ author sets stage for conversations on solutions to challenges facing state

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Hundreds of people listened to Robert D. Putnam speak at theDelaware Community Foundation’s inaugural Leadership Lecture on Wednesday night,the organization reported.

Last week’s Leadership Lecture, which featured well-known sociologist and author ofOur Kids: The American Dream in CrisisandBowling Alone,Putnam, was the first of what will be an annual Delaware Community Foundationevent to spark conversations statewide and bring people together to build solutions to our greatest challenges.

Putnam spoke to an audience of 300 people at the Baby Grand (Edith & Alexander Giacco Building) in Wilmington about what the foundation said is the growing imbalance of access to health care, education, employment and other opportunities necessary to achieve social and economic success in Delaware and throughout the country.

“The very first words we said when we became America were, ‘All men are created equal.’ It’s in our DNA. Our DNA is not that everyone is going to have equal success, but how well you do is going to depend on you. It shouldn’t depend on how well your parents did,” he said. “That is no longer true in America. Every year it’s becoming less true in America, and I fear it’s becoming less true in Delaware.”

Putnam’s presentation was followed by a Take Action Fair. Attendees learned how to get informed, get connected and get in the conversation by talking with representatives from DCF funds and initiatives including the African American Empowerment Fund, Arsht-Cannon Fund, DCF scholarships program, Fund for Women, Next Generation, Rodel Foundation and Youth Philanthropy Board.

DCF CEO Stuart Comstock-Gay said, “At the DCF, we believe in the American Dream. We believe that this elusive idea is something worthwhile. It’s never been fully available to everybody – for African Americans, Hispanics, new citizens, women – but it’s always been worth reaching for.”

Through what was described as a thoughtful and rigorous process, the DCF has identified three focus areas in which it can provide civic leadership: the success of Delaware youth, a thriving Latino population and equitable communities.

Along with Wednesday’s Leadership Lecture, the initiative involves a statewide program of Book Circles that took place throughout the fall, a soon-to-be-announced restructured grants program, and a slate of Focus Conversations about community issues scheduled for 2019.

“For the DCF, this work is our core: improving the quality of life for Delawareans. And a better quality of life is only possible when all people have the opportunity to succeed,” Comstock-Gay said.

Putnam’s presentation was supported by the 1916 Fund at the DCF, JPMorgan Chase and Christiana Care Health System. The Book Circles were possible through a partnership with Delaware Humanities.

For more information, visitdelcf.org/building-opportunity.

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