February 17, 2021, Join a Webinar about the New "Youth and Opportunity" Issue Discussion Materials

Blog Category: 

  • Net Impact
  • Up to Us
  • NIFI

Register for the webinar - Wednesday, February 17, 2021, 3-4 p.m. ET


Join us and learn how to convene an impactful forum using the new issue discussion guide –  Youth and Opportunity: What Should We Do for Future Generations to Thrive? – co-produced by the National Issues Forums Institute  (NIF) and Up to Us. During this event, you will learn about the framework and supporting materials to enrich deliberative forums in person and online. Examples of how to host a virtual forum will also be shared. Learn how students, faculty, and administrators from US-based colleges and universities that moderate a forum using the discussion guide can apply for a micro grant


  • Betty Knighton, President, National Issues Forums Institute
  • Christy Stanker, Senior Program Manager, Up to Us
  • Brad Rourke, Program Officer, Kettering Foundation 
  • Kara Dillard, Assistant Professor, James Madison University; Operations Manager, Common Ground for Action (CGA), National Issues Forums Institute
  • Patty Dineen, Contributing Editor, National Issues Forums Institute website 

Based on public research, the issue guide presents three options that address concerns about the challenges of Youth and Opportunity, along with the tradeoffs and disadvantages of each. The options presented are:

Option One: Many young people need more education and training to realize their full potential and lead successful lives.

This option says that we must rethink what it means to prepare young people for a vastly different social and economic landscape through the rest of this century. The global economy is fueling competition, while automation is shrinking the number of jobs. A greater share of the jobs that remain will require a college degree or other advanced training.

Option Two: Not everyone in the United States has an equal chance to succeed.

Entrenched biases toward race, religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation have created an uneven playing field. This not only unjustly creates serious barriers for millions of young people but also deprives society of the contributions many of them would have made if they had access to the same opportunities enjoyed by their more fortunate peers. This option says that if we want to harness the potential of the next generation’s creativity and diversity, we need to safeguard people against unfair treatment.

Option Three: Deep-rooted problems in our society have not been addressed, putting the next generation at risk.

Our rising national debt has put our country on an unstable footing, limiting our ability to invest in future growth or tackle present challenges. This option holds that we cannot make progress on other fronts if we don’t address the problems that threaten to bankrupt us. We need to increase and sustain our efforts to leave a more secure economy for future generations.

National Issues Forums Institute issues guides are nonpartisan, nongovernmental, and are intended to provide the basis for a deliberative conversation in which citizens weigh the options for action against the things they hold valuable, making their own determination about what should be done.

Participants may download a free copy of the issue guide here, but webinar participants are not required to have a copy.

Youth and Opportunity  was prepared for the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) in collaboration with the Kettering Foundation and Up to Us. National Issues Forums issue guides are used by civic and educational organizations interested in addressing public issues. These organizations use the books in locally initiated forums convened each year in communities around the country. Recent topics have included US politics, the national debt, America’s role in the world, and immigration. For more information on the National Issues Forums, visit: www.nifi.org.

Founded in 1927, the Kettering Foundation of Dayton, Ohio (with an office in Washington, DC), is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute that studies the public’s role in democracy. It provides issue guides and other research for the National Issues Forums. For information about the Kettering Foundation, please visit www.kettering.org.

Launched in 2012, Up to Us is a rapidly growing, nonpartisan movement of young people who recognize that, when it comes to securing their future opportunities, they have no better advocates than themselves. Amid high-profile debates over jobs and the economy, social mobility, health care, and tax reform, Up to Us is the only nationwide, campus-based campaign focused on building a sustainable economic and fiscal future for the next generation. This unique program provides emerging leaders a platform for facilitating a collaborative dialogue on the country’s most vexing challenges.