Former North Carolina Senator and vice presidential candidate, John Edwards could be coming to a college near you.
Edwards is on a 10 day 10 stop college tour to promote Opportunity Rocks, a student led effort to motivate young people to fight poverty. As director for the Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and of the Center for Promise and Opportunity, Edwards has made it his mission to combat the type of poverty that tends to drown a community in times of disaster.
“Poverty is the great moral issue of our century,” said Edwards as he spoke to a group of 1,500 students at University of California-Berkeley. Revisiting the poverty that was unmasked in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina Edwards said, “They didn’t leave because they couldn’t.”
Edwards will visit Dartmouth College, Florida A&M, Harvard University, University of Michigan €”Ann Arbor, University of North Carolina €” Chapel Hill, University of Texas €” Austin, Yale University, and University of Wisconsin €” Madison. His rationale for using college students to fuel his movement is simple. “Young people on college campuses have sparked movements in the past,” said Edwards.
Opportunity Rocks has a two-part mission: get young people more involved in community service, and get them to advocate policies that expand opportunity for people in poverty.
Through Opportunity Rocks, Edwards is asking students to commit to doing 20 hours of community service per semester. Exactly what students will be doing in the community has yet to be determined.
The Center for Promise and Opportunity also hopes to address the arguably unlivable minimum wage which Edward calls a “national disgrace.” Edwards seeks to give vouchers to poor families that will enable them to live where they please. He would also like to issue work bonds through which the government would match any savings that low income families manage to amass.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau more than 37 million Americans live in poverty. More than 22.5 percent of African Americans live below the poverty line and according to the Children’s Defense Fund, 932,000 black kids live in households with after-tax earnings less than half the official poverty level – $7,064 a year for a family of three.
“I’ve always felt it’s a moral responsibility to fight poverty because too many people in America aren’t getting the fair shot they deserve. That’s why I’m excited about Opportunity Rocks,” said Edwards.