Equality of Opportunity Initiative

Closing America’s Opportunity Gaps

All Americans should have the opportunity to earn their success, rise on their merit, and live their own American Dream.

But far too often, the opportunity to obtain an education, secure a job, start a business, and provide for your family is determined by your skin color. These systemic inequalities hurt individuals, communities, our economy, and our society.

In June, the Chamber convened the National Summit on Equality of Opportunity, where leaders from across the private and public sectors discussed solutions to some of the underlying challenges driving inequality of opportunity for Black Americans in four critical areas: education, employment, entrepreneurship, and the criminal justice system.

This historic virtual event kicked off the Equality of Opportunity Initiative, through which the U.S. Chamber has partnered with more than 500 chambers and associations across the country to pursue policy and private sector solutions to bridge underlying racial divides that contribute to broader, systemic inequalities in our society.

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National Summit on Equality of Opportunity

On June 25, 2020, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted the National Summit on Equality of Opportunity, and convened leaders from across the private and public sectors discuss solutions to some of the underlying challenges driving inequality of opportunity for Black Americans.


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America’s Opportunity Gaps by the Numbers

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched the Equality of Opportunity Initiative to address opportunity gaps that perpetuate broader inequalities in our society and hold back individual and business success and economic growth. Our initial report, America’s Opportunity Gaps by the Numbers shows the magnitude of opportunity gaps in six key areas. The findings will inform our work as we pursue targeted, data-driven, and sustainable solutions that will help deliver the American promise of equal opportunity to all.

Read the Report


Equality of Opportunity Agenda

In order to drive meaningful, measurable impact through public policy and private sector solutions, we must listen, learn, and lead.

Driven by data and informed by conversations with business, government, academic, and civic leaders, in July 2020 we developed this initial Equality of Opportunity Agenda to advance private sector solutions and best practices, scale impactful programs, and drive policy action at the federal, state, and local level.

Read our Policy Agenda



Equality of Opportunity Legislation

This initiative seeks to develop and advance data-driven business and policy solutions to bridge opportunity gaps and ensure that Black Americans and people of color have greater opportunities to succeed. As part of this effort, the Chamber is identifying specific legislative solutions it is encouraging Congress to pass.



The Chamber’s Strategic Alliances group continues its work in diversity in business and education by partnering with institutions like the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and the Minority Business Development Agency:

Next-Gen Business Partnership Program

Through the Next-Gen program, the U.S. Chamber is working with historically black colleges and universities and minority serving institutions to expose students to new career opportunities, promote entrepreneurship, and advance diversity at all levels of business.

Business Case for Racial Equity: Research and Roundtables  

In partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the U.S. Chamber is working to build and advance the business case for racial equity through research and roundtable conversations in select communities across the country.

Partnership with the Minority Business Development Agency

Through a partnership with the Minority Business Development Agency at the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Chamber is working to strengthen Black-owned businesses, and we are collaborating with Skys The Limit to inspire and develop the next generation of diverse entrepreneurs.



Policy Advocacy on Diversity and Inclusion

The U.S. Chamber advocates for policies that advance diversity, equality and inclusion in our economy, including corporate board diversity, prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and more.

Research on Race and Health Disparities

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Corporate Citizenship Center partnered with Amway to assess and provide insights on racial disparities in health in Kent County, Michigan, with a focus on maternal and childhood health.

Incorporating Inclusion Initiative

In partnership with the Gill Foundation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Incorporating Inclusion initiative is a first-of-its-kind research and education program established to demonstrate the corporate and community value of LGBT-inclusive workplaces.

Small Business Diversity Research

Through the MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index, the Chamber has explored the unique challenges facing minority small business owners.

Special Report on Race and Inequality on Main Street

A new report from MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce indicates that the coronavirus pandemic has hit minority-owned small businesses disproportionately hard as more minority-owned businesses fear permanent closure and are struggling to secure loans.

Additionally, there has been a 17-point increase from the beginning of 2020 in the number of small businesses believing minority-owned small businesses face more challenges than non-minority owned ones.



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U.S. Chamber Foundation

In September, the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Center team, along with our Strategic Alliances division, launched the Coalition to Back Black Business with Amex and the nation’s Black chambers of commerce to distribute $10M in grants and mentorship to Black business owners across the country.

The Center for Education and Workforce (CEW) continues to be a leading voice on accessibility to childcare, K-12 accountability and school choice, equitable educational funding, and promoting career and college readiness through programs like the cutting-edge Talent Pipeline Management curriculum and academy and reports like Building a More Inclusive Talent Marketplace: Increasing Opportunity Through Community and Business-Led Initiatives and Talent Pipeline Management Resource Guide: Connecting Opportunity Populations to Better Career Pathways.

Employing the formerly incarcerated can present its own challenges, but also opportunities for businesses. The replication of best practices, such as those developed by the Society for Human Resource Management can help employers to confidently hire employees with a criminal background. In 2019, the Foundation’s Emerging Issues team launched America Working Forward: Hidden Workforce, a project exploring employer-led programs that give inmates and ex-offenders training and support as they re-enter the workforce.


Thanks to the more than 500 state and local chambers and national business associations that have already joined the Equality of Opportunity Initiative.

These organizations will participate in the National Summit, and they have committed to hosting similar conversations and taking action in their own communities and industries to address inequality of opportunity across America.




The initiative’s national steering committee represents leaders across industries and geographies:

  • Geoff Freeman, President and CEO, Consumer Brands Association
  • Glenn Hamer, President and CEO, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • John Harmon, Founder, President and CEO, African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey 
  • Bill Miller, President and CEO, American Gaming Association
  • Susan Neely, President and CEO, American Council of Life Insurers 
  • Vincent B. Orange, Sr., President and CEO, DC Chamber of Commerce 
  • Carlos Phillips, President and CEO, Greenville (SC) Chamber of Commerce 
  • Jim Rooney, President and CEO, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
  • Maria Salinas, President and CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Matt Shay, President and CEO, National Retail Federation

"As our nation undertakes a necessary conversation about systemic racism, we will listen thoughtfully and lead solutions to help ensure Black Americans and people of color have greater opportunities to succeed in the American enterprise system."