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Talent and Opportunity, Abilities and Access: Minding the Gap

Talent and Opportunity, Abilities and Access: Minding the Gap

By Fulton Breen | April 27, 2015
Candidate for MBA and MA in Educational Leadership & Policy, University of Michigan Ross School of Business

Note: Fulton Breen is a member of the Ross School of Business MAP team that has been working with ETR to explore new possibilities and opportunities for our organization’s work boosting STEM education.

The president of my university, Mark Schlissel, summarized his commitment to social justice and equitable youth development with a simple but powerful observation: Talent is ubiquitous, but opportunity is not.


So what are we to do with this gap between abilities and access?


This question drew me to the interesting work being done at ETR. It’s also what brought me to graduate school to study the intersections of business and education.

We Are Missing Talent

I believe education is our primary training ground—the place we can develop students’ talents and interests and prime them for professional opportunities. We are far from the efficient frontier that will build the diverse and optimal workforce we need. We are missing raw talents located in different pockets all over the world and throughout the United States. We are even missing talent in low-income neighborhoods in the midst of Silicon Valley.

Even if we work to create an effective net to identify more students with their unique abilities, we do not have the pathways in place to allow them to develop their talents. They cannot maximize their contributions to their communities and the broader world.

What Can Be Done?

Many of us know we are far from an optimal point in this process of discovery and support, but we don’t know how to improve the situation.

Working toward improved social welfare, particularly through better youth development, is what underlies my own interests in working with ETR. ETR brings scientific rigor and research to these challenging topics, whether in health, technology or other essential fields. This is vital work, and it’s heartening to see it put into action.

I look forward to working with ETR as we consider alternative models to continue to get research, evaluation and programs to new and larger audiences, and to build on the good work already being done.

Fulton Breen is a member of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business class of 2016 and will graduate with a dual MBA/MA Educational Studies degree. He can be reached at


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