||The Founding Alliance
The Presidents’ Summit began as one person’s idea, but it quickly became a partnership, an alliance to lift up, magnify and accelerate the work of all.
Points of Light and the Corporation for National and Community Service helped organize the Summit and brought strengths in citizen service. As the gathering took shape with its focus on children and youth, Communities In Schools, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the United Way of America and MENTOR joined the team.
These six founding organizations in turn leveraged their national networks, organized delegations and mobilized others — activities that became hallmarks of Alliance partners and began to give America’s Promise the reach and strength to support communities in the years to come.
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For the sake of our nation and our children, we cannot afford to allow the wrong road to become jammed, while the right road remains traveled by only those blessed with greater means or privilege. We cannot afford to surrender America’s Promise.
CONFERENCE PROGRAM, PRESIDENTS' SUMMIT FOR AMERICA'S FUTURE, APRIL 1997
A Well-Represented Nation
The animating idea behind the Presidents’ Summit mobilized Americans from all walks of life and scores of communities to answer the call on behalf of America’s children.
Among the 3,000 participants were 25 governors, 9 lieutenant governors, 92 mayors, 122 key business leaders, seven Cabinet members and delegations from 145 communities.
The media was well-represented, including opinion shapers from William Kristol to Clarence Page, Arianna Huffington to Sam Donaldson to LL Cool J (representing MTV). Also attending: civil rights leader Dorothy Height, future Senator Al Franken, future presidential candidate (and George Romney’s son) Mitt Romney, future Governors John Kasich and Ed Rendell and future First Lady Laura Bush.
It had been billed as the Presidents’ Summit. In reality, it was the nation’s.
Finding a Name
The Presidents’ summit developed into America’s Promise Alliance in recognition that answering the call to improve the lives’ of America’s youth was going to be a sustained effort living well beyond that day in 1997. The name “America’s Promise” came from Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in which Dr.t King compared the Constitution and Declaration of Independence to a promissory note.
“The note,” Dr. King said, “was a promise that all men — yes, black men as well as white men — would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
That solemn promise of a nation, as yet unfilled, lay at the heart of the presidents’ call to action for America’s young people, and to the creation and naming of America’s Promise.