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NEW YORK, NY – During the closing plenary of the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting, President Bill Clinton today announced REWORK AMERICA, the Markle Economic Future Initiative's CGI Commitment to Action. REWORK AMERICA is an extraordinary partnership focused on the changes brought about by today's networked world. The Markle Economic Future Initiative will help drive innovations that expand opportunities for employment and broaden ways for all Americans to learn and train for the work of the future.
Co-chaired by Markle CEO and President Zoë Baird and Starbucks chairman, president and ceo Howard Schultz, the Markle Economic Future Initiative brings together a broad collaboration of entrepreneurs, technology leaders, CEOs, educators, community and religious leaders, and other partners to empower all Americans to succeed in today's digital economy. The members believe it will take strong leadership in these transformational times to advance actions that help all Americans gain access to the resources they need to share in the benefits of the new economy. Markle is committing $50 million dollars to REWORK AMERICA.
The members of REWORK AMERICA share a vision of a hopeful future for our nation, one in which the changes brought about by a networked world work for us and where more Americans are optimistic about their chances for learning, training, and employment. In a collective point of view (reworkamerica.org), the members offer their thoughts for pairing ideas with powerful actions to accelerate innovations that return opportunities to all Americans.
While uncertainty and pessimism about the future remain high, there is a strong foundation on which to rebuild. In fact, 70 percent of middle class Americans in a recent Markle commissioned national survey said they want the chance to advance their education and training to learn new skills in math, science, and technology. Eighty six percent agreed that learning throughout one's lifetime is critical to keeping up in today's world. And nearly 9 out of 10 middle class Americans expressed support for access to resources that can help American small businesses expand into new markets.
"There is no challenge more important for the strength of our nation than the challenge of advancing economic opportunity for all Americans," said Markle CEO and President and Markle Economic Future Initiative co-chair Zoë Baird. "Americans are known for their creativity and entrepreneurship. By mastering innovations in learning and business growth, we can reach for a better future in which all Americans prosper in the networked world."
Technology is making it easier than ever to tap into learning that is more flexible, affordable, and personalized. It also is creating new ways for Americans to work or to start and grow a business, aided by tech platforms that can bring the world's growing middle class as potential customers to our tablets. We need to enable Americans to connect with buyers around the world and to bring the operational power and insight of large businesses into the hands of small entrepreneurs and main street businesses. And 21st century learning options are needed to develop credentials that correlate with work that will carry Americans into the future and enable people to keep learning throughout their lives.
"I have long believed the best investment a leader can make is in their own people and their futures," said Howard Schultz, chairman, president and ceo of Starbucks and co-chair of the Markle Economic Future Initiative. "Today, too many of our youth believe the American Dream is impossible to achieve. It's more important now than ever for business, community and government leaders to come together to create pathways to opportunity for young Americans to become the kind of leaders who will move our country forward. Together we can create a future where the doors to opportunity are shut on no one and access to the American Dream is open to everyone."
Markle has long taken a leadership role with collaborations that use technology tools to address previously intractable public problems, including overcoming obstacles to economic growth. The recent Starbucks-Arizona State University partnership, inspired by the Markle Initiative, is one example of a groundbreaking prototype for creating opportunities that rethink learning, skill development, and readiness for the work of the future. The innovative plan will provide access to an online college education at ASU for thousands of Starbucks partners (employees) in the United States. Collaborations with other educational institutions and businesses are also currently being developed to help Americans navigate the new economy.
"We are in a period of momentous change in America," said Purdue University President and Initiative member Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr., former governor of Indiana and former director of the Office of Management and Budget. "One of our most important assets has always been the knowledge and skills of our workforce and the nation's economic success will depend on our effectiveness at educating students in an increasingly technological world. But we can no longer rely on traditional strengths alone to prepare for the 21st century economy. We must reimagine the way we teach and use today's new tools to design educational platforms that foster the skills today's employers say they prize most."
"Many students are leaving college laden with debt, often to discover that employment is yet another challenge," said ASU President and Initiative member Michael Crow. "But this doesn't have to be. We now have the ability to expand the pathways to learning and to rethink how every individual can be ensured of a pathway to opportunity and employment. With new learning technologies and tools, we can advance flexible and personalized learning and generate new market ready credentials based on demonstrated knowledge, rather than only the more traditional pathways of post-secondary education. These new opportunities allow learning to be pursued at all times and in any venue."
"More than ever, education is the single most reliable way to break the cycle of generational poverty," said Geoffrey Canada, Initiative member and president of the non-profit Harlem Children’s Zone. "The digital technology revolution has given us incredible new tools for learning, but it also raises the educational bar for future generations. For that reason, it is incumbent on our country to increase access to all of our young people and Rework America is a terrific step in that direction."
Initiative member and chairman and CEO of salesforce.com, Marc Benioff said, "We're in the middle of an incredible transformation, driven by new social, mobile and connected cloud technologies. By embracing these new technologies, we can prepare our youth for the jobs of tomorrow, and encourage entrepreneurs to build new companies to propel our economy forward."
"In order to restore the American dream, in order to bring back hope and promise for so many people in this nation, we need strong visionary leadership," said Reverend Calvin Butts, III, pastor of The Abyssinian Baptist Church of New York City, president of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury and Initiative member. "Leadership has to be more than just strong and visionary in the sense of rhetoric, it has to be ready to take risks."
"Americans have always been good at innovation and seizing a challenge and making it work for them," said Initiative member and Leavitt Partners Chairman Michael Leavitt, the former governor of Utah and a former cabinet official. "But we need to recognize this is a genuine challenge and that we need to take steps to help build new jobs and new skills for the future. And the sooner we do this, the better."
Lisa MacSpadden or William Herbig
Markle works to realize the potential of information technology to address previously intractable public problems for the economic security, health, and national security of all Americans. Markle’s current initiative is focused on accelerating innovations that use the forces of technology and globalization to return opportunities to Americans in today’s rapidly changing networked economy. For more information, visit markle.org and follow us on Twitter @MarkleFdn.