Everyone Deserves the Opportunity to Rise.

The American story is one of people rising to achieve great things. Yet it’s become increasingly difficult for people to share in that experience in recent decades, the result of a two-tiered system that makes it too hard for too many to get ahead. We’re working to reverse that trend by making it easier for the least fortunate to grab hold of the economic ladder and rise. We are working toward a system in which government grants privilege to no one and everyone has an opportunity to rise. All people should have the ability to succeed, contribute to their communities, and live meaningful lives—regardless of their starting point.

We want an economic system that makes it easier for the least fortunate to grab hold of the economic ladder and rise.

Our Vision in Action

  • Americans for Prosperity united citizens in states across the country to encourage policymakers to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, reducing government favoritism in the federal tax code and saving the typical family of four more than $2,000 annually.
  • Alfa Demmellash and Alex Forrester founded Rising Tide Capital to help low-income entrepreneurs rise. The results: Average household incomes of the people they serve increase by nearly 50% within two years. Now, Alfa and Alex are partnering with The Seminar Network to make an even greater impact by scaling their model to empower more people.
  • Americans for Prosperity-Mississippi led passage of a first-in-the-nation comprehensive reform of occupational licenses—which limit access to entry-level jobs and entrepreneurship—that serves as a model for recent reforms in other states, such as Nebraska.

“Entrepreneurs are the very heart of what the American Dream is all about.”

Alfa Demmellash, founder of Rising Tide Capital 

Guiding Principles and Insights

Let’s Close the Opportunity Gap and Boost Economic Mobility. 

To put it bluntly: Today’s economic system not only denies people the opportunity to rise, but also the very belief they can do so. Millennials are the first generation to be worse off than their parents at the same point in life. Data show the poorer you are growing up, the more likely you are to stay poor through adulthood. And more than 40 percent of the country thinks America’s best days are behind us.

These trends are brought about by barriers in education, business, communities, and government that make it harder to rise. This is injustice. And we’re partnering with social entrepreneurs to remove these barriers holding people back.

That includes volunteer activists with Americans for Prosperity who are uniting citizens to make health care more affordable by, among other improvements, leveraging technology to expand access and increase choice; prevent future tax hikes by reforming state pension systems to be sustainable over the long term; stop overspending that’s led to an explosion in our national debt that will impose increasing burdens on Americans; and transform today’s social safety net—that, however well-intentioned, has trapped millions of people in long-term dependency—into a social safety springboard that helps the needy back onto their feet; among other public policy reforms.

We’re also partnering with educators at Junior Achievement USA who, by teaching the values and skills of entrepreneurship, are preparing students to compete in a rapidly evolving economy. And we’re supporting more than 30 workforce development programs that help the homeless experience earned success.

There is no silver bullet or single solution to this problem. It requires uniting educators, community and business leaders, and policymakers of all parties to fix it. So that’s what we are doing.

Economic opportunity is the most effective anti-poverty program in history.

Expand the Great Enrichment to All by Eliminating Special Favors for the Few. 

We’re fortunate to be living amidst the Great Enrichment—the most prosperous period in human history. It started in the early 1800s and was built in part on the establishment of equal rights and a recognition that people can work and do business together voluntarily and to their mutual benefit.

This country has never lived up fully to this ideal, sometimes falling far short. But to the extent that we have followed these principles, our country has flourished—increasing Americans’ standard of living by as much as 3,000% in the last two centuries alone.

The tragedy today is the pace of progress has stalled for many. Middle-class wages have failed to keep up with a booming economy. Nearly three-in-five people have less than $1,000 in savings. And 2-in-5 Americans say they would have trouble covering an emergency that cost $400.

So, what’s happening? Why are so many today being left behind? Part of the answer is public policy barriers have rigged the system in favor of a few and against everyone else.

Policies like corporate welfare have created a system in which success for some comes at the expense of others. In a recent six-year period, for example, the federal government doled out $4.4 trillion to just the top 200 U.S. companies, costing roughly $35,000 per household.

Our regulatory system has become so burdensome and complex that small businesses report spending more than $80,000 on compliance in their first year of operation—providing a steep advantage to large businesses that can more easily absorb such added costs. Meanwhile, other policies like occupational licenses stack the deck against the unemployed by requiring them to sometimes pay thousands of dollars and endure hundreds of hours of training to simply enter their chosen profession.

We want to ensure more people are able to feel more benefits from the Great Enrichment. We’re working to restore an economic system in which the only way to succeed is by benefiting others. Among other reforms, that means advancing equal rights by eliminating all special government favors—whether they be subsidies, tax credits, anticompetitive regulations, or anything else.

More Examples of the Work We Support

In Education

  • Youth Entrepreneurs empowers students to rise by identifying their unique aptitudes, learning the principles of entrepreneurship to turn them into valued skills, and applying them in a real-world setting to help themselves by creating value for others.
  • Thurgood Marshall College Fund established to the Center for Advancing Opportunity, which brings new faculty and student voices into the conversation about removing barriers to opportunity in fragile communities.
  • The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is one of the nation’s top authorities on economic policy, producing research to inform public policy reforms in Washington and states across the country.

In Communities

  • Workforce development programs such as Cara equip thousands of people each year with the values and skills to break the cycle of homelessness and experience earned success. Cara is one of 30 such programs across the country we are helping to scale.
  • Anti-poverty programs such as Chrysalis put homeless individuals on the path to self-sufficiency through job training, coaching, and mentoring.

In Government

  • Build broad-based policy coalitions across party lines to reduce corporate welfare and cronyism in Washington, D.C.—e.g., the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which gives billions of dollars to just a handful of America’s largest companies.
  • Unite citizens to oppose harmful corporate welfare in 35 states, including so-called “economic development” programs such as Enterprise Florida that are rife with cronyism.
  • Reduce occupational licensing laws and regulations in dozens of states, removing one of the biggest barriers facing entry-level workers and aspiring entrepreneurs.
  • Protect the First Amendment rights of workers, including by helping to enact five right-to-work laws since 2012, among other reforms.
  • Support the election of policy champions to the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governorships, and other state-level offices who take principled stands against special interests, even—and especially—when it’s the hard thing to do.

Bottom Line

We are uniting people to abolish today’s two-tiered system that makes it too hard for too many to get ahead. We are working toward a system where government grants privilege to no one and everyone has an opportunity to rise—regardless of their starting point in life.