Replicating a J.D. Vance Anomaly: A J.D. Vance Story of Upward Mobility

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Middlelayers, Inc.: With the help of his family, community, and wider social support system, Vance transcended poverty and disadvantage to attend Yale Law School and become the best selling author of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. While his story is an anomaly, it poses an important question: how can we replicate J.D.’s social support system to help millions of other children have access to the American Dream?

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These problems were not created by governments or corporations or anyone else. We created them, and only we can fix them. JD Vance

In support of on-going economic and social development efforts, Middlelayers, Inc. will be hosting a viewing of their documentary film to engage the public in a conversation about children’s rights, collective responsibility, and community-based solutions to address disparities in health, education, and mobility. Replicating a J.D. Vance Anomaly will be shown to 9th through 12th grade students at Middletown High School on January 17, 2018.

J.D. Vance’s story is the embodiment of the American Dream of upward mobility. With the help of his family, community, and wider social support system, Vance transcended poverty and disadvantage to attend Yale Law School and become the best selling author of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (JD Vance, 2016, http://www.harpercollins.com). While his story is an anomaly, it poses an important question: how can we replicate J.D.’s social support system to help millions of other children have access to the American Dream?

Replicating a J.D. Vance Anomaly challenges students to reflect on this question and consider their role in building solutions to the community’s most pressing social problems. Students will be introduced to concepts such as social support, social capital, and social networks and will learn the value of these assets in promoting socio-economic development and equality of opportunity for children and adolescents who grow up as J.D. did. The objective of the film is to inspire hope and action among Middletown’s youth by sharing J.D. Vance’s story and providing a road map to upward mobility.

Equal economic opportunity and upward mobility are cornerstones of the American national identity. Yet, communities across the county are trapped in cycles of poverty and disadvantage that extend across generations and obstruct traditional pathways to upward economic mobility. The Pew Charitable Trust (Economic Mobility in the US,http://www.pewtrusts.org/~/media/assets/2015/07/fsm-irs-report_artfinal.pdf) found that family advantage and disadvantage have an extensive impact on the future economic potential of children: approximately half of parental income advantages/disadvantages are passed on to children. Vance’s story of success exemplifies the importance of increasing social capital and social support among marginalized youth to promote opportunity and mobility. Through interviews with Middletown leaders, the film aims to develop a public understanding of social capital and its implication for community and youth development. Following the film, 12th grade students will compete in an essay contest where they will be asked to assess community-based approaches to increase social capital and promote upward mobility among marginalized populations. The top two winners will receive cash prizes provided by Middlelayers.

About Middlelayers

Inspired by the story of J.D.Vance, Middlelayers is a start- up dedicated to promoting upward mobility by improving social integration and increasing social capital among marginalized populations through the advent of new technology. The mission of Middlelayers is to make community services more accessible to those who need them and to offer tools for providers to more efficiently deliver those services. Dr. Mintu Bachann is the founder and CEO of Middlelayers. Established in 2017, Middlelayers in based in Jacksonville, FL.

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Tess Goldhagen
@middlelayers
since: 06/2017
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