Cycle of Opportunity

The Bell Policy Center first introduced the Cycle of Opportunity concept in 2002 to illustrate how we believe opportunity is created and sustained in the 21st century.

It represents a series of experiences and events that build on one another and accumulate over a lifetime of effort and make it possible for families and individuals to realize their full economic, social, and personal potential.

If someone gets a good education, he or she is more likely to get a job that pays well. With a good-paying job, he or she is more likely to be economically self-sufficient. That means this person is in a better position to buy a home and provide future opportunities for his or her children. And if those kids are born healthy and able to get a good education themselves, the Cycle of Opportunity continues.

Most middle-class American families can identify the point at which they entered the Cycle of Opportunity — whether it was when an ancestor homesteaded a farm, when the GI Bill allowed a veteran to become the first in his family to graduate from college, or when fair lending laws made it possible for the great-great-granddaughter of slaves to buy a home.

Whatever the entry point, the Cycle of Opportunity is self-sustaining. Once a family is in, it is likely to stay there from generation to generation.

Individual effort fuels the Cycle of Opportunity. All sectors of society play a role in sustaining it — families, businesses, schools, and communities.

Government plays an important role as well. Just as well-functioning markets have been critical to generating prosperity in this country, effective government action ensures prosperity is available to more and more working families.

The way to make opportunity real for all Coloradans is to focus on how society generates opportunity and how it helps families move into the Cycle of Opportunity. To do so, we must move away from the argument over more or less government and toward a reasoned discussion of what is the right kind of government, complete with discussions about how this entity should provide for its citizens.