Building One America
January 2000

President Clinton launched a historic initiative to create One America: a place where we respect others’ differences and, at the same time, embrace the common values that unite us. To reach this goal, he created a new office in the White House to ensure that we have a coordinated strategy to close the opportunity gaps that exist for minorities and the underserved in this country, and build the One America we want for all of our nation’s children. The One America Initiative works to close the opportunity gap that still exists in America, ensure economic opportunity throughout our cities, rural communities and Tribal reservations, and to promote understanding and reconciliation of the tensions that still divide us.

President Clinton's New Markets Initiative: In his 1999 State of the Union, President Clinton proposed the New Markets initiative to help spur economic development in urban and rural communities that have not shared fully in the benefits of the nation’s strong economy. The President succeeded in achieving broad bipartisan support for his initiative and won funding for new initiatives like:

  • America’s Private Investment Companies, partnerships modeled on the Overseas Private Investment Corporation's (OPIC) successful investment
  • fund that will leverage $800 million of new investment.
  • New Markets Venture Capital Program: Including New Market Venture Capital Firms and BusinessLINC to bring investment and technical assistance to help entrepreneurs who transform their small businesses and great ideas into thriving companies.

Expanding Investment in Urban and Rural Areas: The Clinton-Gore Administration has created 31 Empowerment Zones and more than 100 Enterprise Communities that are creating new jobs, new opportunities and stronger communities. In FY99, President Clinton and Congress provided a first-year funding of $55 million for the new EZs, and $5 million in first-year funding for 20 new rural Enterprise Communities announced in January. The FY 2000 budget provides a total of $70 million in funding for EZ/ECs.

Economic Gains for All Americans: President Clinton and Vice President Gore have created the conditions for economic success that have produced the longest peacetime economic expansion in history. This economy has produced gains for all Americans:

  • Record Low Unemployment: African-American unemployment dropped from 14.2 percent in 1992 to 8.0 percent in 1999, while the unemployment rate for Hispanics has fallen from 11.6 percent in 1992 to 6.4 percent in 1999 -- both the lowest rates on record.

  • Higher Incomes: Median household income for African Americans is up 15.1 percent (or $3,317) since 1993, while median household income for Hispanics is up 15.9 percent (or $3,880) since 1993.

  • Lowest Poverty Rate in Two Decades: The African-American poverty rate has dropped from 33.1 percent in 1993 to 26.1 percent in 1998 -- the lowest level ever recorded and the largest five-year drop in African-American poverty in more than a quarter century. The poverty rate for Hispanics is at the lowest level since 1979, and dropped to 25.6 percent in 1998.

High Standards and Historic New Investment In Our Schools: The President fought for and won initiatives to hire 100,000 quality teachers to reduce class size; slots for 200,000 new Head Start students; new after school and summer school programs; GEAR-UP college preparation opportunities and new Internet connections for classrooms. He also provided support and leadership that resulted in higher standards for practically every student and school.

Improving our Nations' Health: In 1998, President Clinton announced an initiative to end racial and ethnic health disparities. The effort sets a national goal of eliminating the longstanding disparities by the year 2010 in six key health areas: infant mortality, diabetes, cancer screening and management, heart disease, AIDS and immunizations. For example, African Americans suffer from diabetes at 70 percent higher rates than white Americans, white males from Appalachia suffer the highest lung cancer rate in the country, American Indians suffer diabetes at extremely high rates, and Vietnamese woman have cervical cancer rates at 5 times the national average.

Preventing Hate Crimes: President Clinton signed the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act, which provides for longer sentences for hate crimes. The President also hosted the first White House Conference on Hate Crimes, which examined laws and remedies that could deter hate crimes, highlighted solutions that are working across the country, and continued the frank and open dialogue. Now the President is working with Congress to strengthen existing hate crimes laws by passing the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Working to End Racial Profiling: To help determine where and when racial profiling occurs, the President directed Cabinet agencies to collect data on the race, ethnicity, and gender of individuals subject to certain stops by federal law enforcement. The President has also supported increased resources for police integrity and ethics training and to improve the diversity of local police forces.

Expanding Civil Rights Enforcement: This year President Clinton proposed a significant increase in funding to prosecute criminal civil rights cases (including hate crimes and police misconduct), enforce the American with Disabilities Act, pursue EEOC employment actions and prevent housing discrimination, and other civil rights enforcement efforts.

Promoting National and Community Service: President Clinton proclaimed Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national holiday and day of service and the President and Vice President Gore have led the nation in an annual "day on." The President also initiated AmeriCorps, which in five years has allowed 150,000 young people to serve in their communities while earning money for college or skills training.

Welcoming New Americans: Since 1993, the U.S. has welcomed 4.4 million new American citizens. Faced with this unprecedented number of applications, the Administration undertook an initiative that has significantly reduced the backlog of citizenship applications and is restoring timely processing. Furthermore, the Administration’s English as a Second Language/Civics Education Initiative will provide limited English speaking adults with instruction in both English literacy and critical life skills necessary for effective citizenship and civic participation.

Providing Fairness for Legal Immigrants: The President believes that legal immigrants should have the same economic opportunity and bear the same responsibility as other members of society. In 1997 and 1998, the President fought for and succeeded in restoring disability, health and nutritional benefits for certain legal immigrants, and he will continue to press for additional restorations.

Appointing the Most Diverse Administration in History: President Clinton has appointed twice as many African American appointees as any previous administration and the most Hispanic judicial nominees. Women make up 44 percent of Clinton Administration appointees, including 29 percent of the positions requiring Senate confirmation and 30 percent of the President’s judicial nominees. Record numbers of people with disabilities are also serving in the White House and throughout the Clinton-Gore Administration.

The President's One America office has brought together government, pubic and private sectors to combat discrimination and racial disparities, increase investment and action to build opportunity, and promote open dialogue across the country. Among other things the office has:

  • Launched Lawyers for One America in cooperation with the Justice Department, ABA, and other national and local bar as a response to increase diversity within the legal profession and expand access to legal resources.

  • Convened meetings with health professionals, the Surgeon General, and health policy experts that have resulted in a coordinated effort to eliminate disparities in health care, research, and incidence of disease
  • Crafted a proactive strategy to address tensions that can arise between communities of color and law enforcement. This process involved elected officials, police associations, and advocacy organizations like the Urban League and La Raza.


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