Anchored by Thursday Night Dinner (TND), a weekly gathering of AOK family members of all ages, AOK addresses two, inter-related opportunities.

1. Unleashing the potential of youth

Millions of young people in our country fall through the cracks, even though they are smart, creative, entrepreneurial and want to make a positive contribution to society. Our nation can no longer afford to squander the talent, innovation and passion these young people offer. We see incredible potential in the youth that gather around our dining room table—potential that is too often wasted. In the nation’s capital:

  • 28% of children live below the federal poverty level.
  • Public schools have a high school graduation rate of 59% as of 2012.
  • 17% of youth ages 18 to 24 were neither in school nor working in 2012.

These statistics are replicated in cities and communities across the country. Too many of our children are being raised without the support, resources and love they need to be happy, successful adults who make a positive difference in their communities. We all lose if we allow this crisis of lost potential to continue.

AOK recognizes the incredible value our young people have to offer our nation and builds communities that surround them with love and high expectations, challenge them to shoot for the stars, and provide the full range of resources they need to succeed.

2. Building Community

Anyone who has turned on a television or opened a newspaper in the last decade or so can’t help but notice that we are a country described more by what divides us than by what unites us. We are defined more by the walls we build than the tables we set. Our communities are fragmented. We live in bubbles of various kinds—racial, ethnic, generational, socio-economic—that seem insurmountable. In an age when we’re supposedly more connected than ever, many of us feel isolated, lonely. Our friends have become ‘friends’ and we don’t communicate, we ‘like’ and ‘share’. And many of us feel powerless to do anything about it.

AOK helps address—on a very human scale—the profound yearning for stronger, more diverse, trusting relationships and communities that so many in our society feel, regardless of age, socio-economic status, race or ethnic heritage. We bring people of all ages and backgrounds to our table to support each other, to forge deep and honest connections, and to create a mutually supportive community. AOK is rooted in the conviction that we all bring value to the table, we can all inspire others and we can all aspire to be better versions of ourselves.