Building Opportunity: What does it mean?

“Opportunity moments can change the trajectory of a person’s life,” said Joshua Mbanusi, the keynote speaker at Opportunity of Saint Paul’s learning community event on May 22. Using his own story as the backdrop to a content-rich presentation, Mr. Mbanusi talked about the moment in his life when a high school adviser opened a door for him and exposed him to new ways of thinking about his future.

That message resonated with the group of Opportunity Saint Paul volunteers and partners who gathered May 22 at Mount Zion Temple. Mr. Mbanusi defined opportunity moments as those times “when your own unique blend of personal drive and ingenuity is matched with public support from systems and institutions that show you windows of opportunities you may not have heard about or known.”

Mr. Mbanusi is a program manager at MDC, a nonprofit in Durham, North Carolina, that focuses on poverty alleviation across the South through improvements in education, employment, economic security, and strategic philanthropy. MDC’s research and reports provide the framework for the Opportunity Saint Paul program. His presentation also included eye-opening data regarding opportunity in Saint Paul.

The learning event also included an interfaith dialogue session led by Hamline University professor Earl Schwartz. Using texts from Deuteronomy 21: 1, 6, 7 and 8, as well as the Babylonian Talmud Sotah 38b, Professor Schwartz asked attendees to grapple with the “fatal left-undones” in our community.

Opportunity Saint Paul’s last learning community event of the year will take place July 26, as staff and volunteers gear up for the 2018-2019 program year.