Putnam’s return visit to Winston-Salem underscores the belief that communities flourish when all children have access to opportunities that enable them to reach their full potential and contribute back to community life.
Family Services will host acclaimed author and social scientist Robert D. Putnam who is helping to kick off the first annual Raising Every Child community event on Tuesday, November 1, at 11:30 a.m. at the Downtown Marriott.
Putnam is the author of the New York Times bestselling books, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis” and “Bowling Alone.” His nationally recognized public advocacy for creating a just and prosperous society has inspired communities across the US to address issues that are vital to improving the lives of children and families whose potential has been lost under the weight of poverty, marginalization, and disadvantage.
On Tuesday, Putnam will present his startling examination of the growing “opportunity gap” that is preventing communities like Winston-Salem/Forsyth County from flourishing. His address, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” will engage city leaders and visionaries who will be called upon to collaborate and innovate in order to ensure that every child in Forsyth County has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential.
“There are times when a singular event can crystalize a community’s commitment to a great cause,” says Bob Feikema, President and CEO of Family Services.
“Putnam’s visit comes at a time when our community is rallying to ensure that all our youngest children have the resources and support they need to move out of the generational cycle of disadvantage and to succeed. The corporate, philanthropic, education, nonprofit, and civic sectors are poised to make major investments in early childhood development. Dr. Putnam’s visit is an occasion for the community to come together to affirm its commitment to make Forsyth County the best place in North Carolina for families with young children,” Feikema explains.
Initial investments in early childhood development are already being made through such initiatives as the Forsyth Promise, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust’s Great Expectations initiative, and Project Impact. The latter is spearheaded by Reynolds American with a goal of raising $45 million over six years, a portion of which will help to increase the number of pre-K classrooms in the county.
As the preeminent agency in the community for demonstrating success in early child development, behavioral development, and improvement among struggling families with young children, Family Services will support the roll out of these community initiatives.
A long-time friend to Winston-Salem, Dr. Putnam captivated our Winston-Salem leaders several years ago with his groundbreaking study on the importance of social capital or “community connectedness.” That work led local leaders and the Winston-Salem Foundation to found the ECHO Network, which generated a movement to strengthen neighborhoods through resource-sharing and community collaboration.
As a celebrity among action-minded civic leaders and academicians, Putnam possesses the rare ability to combine serious research with dynamic public advocacy. In addition to underscoring Family Services’ commitment to families with young children, his appearance is designed to boost community efforts to expand the availability of quality early childhood development programs in Forsyth County.
“Dr. Putnam’s visit couldn’t be timelier, as the addition of up to 14 pre-K classrooms in the county schools will be included in the school bond referendum that will be up for a vote on November 8,” says Feikema.
About Robert D. Putnam
Robert D. Putnam is the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the British Academy, and past president of the American Political Science Association. He has received numerous scholarly honors, including the Skytte Prize, the most prestigious global award in political science, and the National Humanities Medal, the nation’s highest honor for contributions to the humanities. He has written fourteen books, translated into more than twenty languages, including Bowling Alone and Making Democracy Work, both among the most cited publications in the social sciences in the last half century. His 2010 book, co-authored with David E. Campbell, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, won the American Political Science Association’s 2011 Woodrow Wilson award as the best book in political science. He has consulted for the last three American presidents, the last three British prime ministers, the last French president, prime ministers from Ireland to Singapore, and hundreds of grassroots leaders and activists in many countries. His latest book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, on the growing class gap among American young people, was published in March 2015.