Article courtesy of WMD via “The Rundown”
According to a working paper from researchers at Harvard University and the University of British Columbia, the five happiest cities in the U.S. all happen to be located in one state: Louisiana, which also ranks as the happiest state.
Specifically, the list-toppers are Lafayette, Houma, Shreveport-Bossier City, Baton Rouge and Alexandria.
Rounding out the top 10 happiest cities are Rochester, Minnesota; Corpus Christi, Texas; Lake Charles, Louisiana; Nashville, Tennessee; and Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
The paper, co-authored by Harvard professor Edward Glaeser, UBC Vancouver School of Economics professor Joshua Gottlieb and Harvard doctoral student Oren Ziv, used data from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey titled the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
It was adjusted for age, sex, race, income and other factors, as women, for example, are happier than men, and married couples are happier than single or divorced respondents.
On the other end of the spectrum, the unhappiest cities had New York City topping the list, followed by St. Joseph, Missouri; South Bend, Indiana; Erie, Pennsylvania; Evansville, Indiana-Henderson, Kentucky; Toledo, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Jersey City, New Jersey; Gary, Indiana; and Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton, Pennsylvania.
“Nearly all of the unhappiest places in the nation lean heavily Democratic when it comes to voting,” noted Caroline Schaeffer of the Independent Journal Review.
Among the goals of the study was to explain why many “unhappy” cities were still seeing population growth. After all, why would people move there if it were such an awful place?
“Self-reported unhappiness is high in [many] declining cities, and this tendency persists even when we control for income, race and other personal characteristics,” the authors write. “Why are the residents of some cities persistently less happy? Given that they are, why do people choose to live in unhappy places?”
The report concludes many of the unhappy cities have always been so according to limited data. Higher wages play a role in enticing people to move to unhappy places, as does lower housing costs.
The Huffington Post | By Rebecca Klein
An essay that appeared recently in The Washington Post has brought renewed attention to discipline disparities taking place across all school levels, even in preschool. In the essay, black mother Tunette Powell wrote that her two preschool-aged sons have been suspended from schools a total of eight times, and she wonders if these suspensions might be the result of unintentional biases against black students.
“The problem is not that we have a bunch of racist teachers and administrators. I believe most educators want to help all children. But many aren’t aware of the biases and prejudices that they, like all of us, harbor, and our current system offers very little diversity training to preschool staff,” wrote Powell.
Powell’s essay was grounded in personal experience, but also draws from U.S. Department of Education data. Using this data, Powell points out that even though black students accounted for only 18 percent of preschoolers in the 2011- 12 school year, 42 percent of these students were suspended once that year, and 48 percent received multiple suspensions.
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Crystal Johnson struggled 11 days for access to clean water flowing freely from the tap. She does not live in an impoverished nation. The single mother resides in the heart of Detroit. Johnson, 38, had her water shut off without notice because of a delinquent bill. “It was a trying time,” she said. “It was really rough because we had a one-year-old in the house.”
She couldn’t afford to pay her water bills for six months after losing an income. Her water bill was a staggering $4000. Johnson was stunned. She went back and forth with Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD) over how they calculated the sky-high bill. The Water Department wouldn’t budge. After 11 days, with the help of family and friends, Johnson managed to come up with $1,100 to get her water switched back on.
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by Frederick H. Lowe
Staff Writer, The NorthStar News & Analysis
Howard University Board of Trustees on Monday named Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., a cancer surgeon, as the Washington, D.C., school’s 17th president.
“I am deeply honored to be selected by the board of trustees to lead this great university,” Frederick said. “Howard University has been an unparalleled catalyst since its founding, opening doors and expanding opportunity for untold individuals while driving research, innovation, service and excellence. On the cusp of our 150th anniversary, I could not be more humbled to accept the mantle of leadership and embrace the sacred trust of our motto, Truth and Service.”
Howard, which is named in honor of Union Army Gen. Oliver O. Howard, was founded March 2, 1867. In 2012, the school’s enrollment was slightly over 10,000. The university’s endowment now stands at $600 million, the highest it has been in the school’s history.
The presidential search committee, chaired by Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., on Monday selected Frederick to succeed Sidney Ribeau, Ph.D., who announced in October 2013 that he would retire in December after five years at the helm. Ribeau was 65 years old at the time.
Frederick had served as Howard’s interim president since Ribeau’s announcement.
Frederick has a long history at Howard.
He enrolled in Howard as a 16 year-old from Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, to become a physician. Frederick earned a bachelor’s of science degree and a M.D. at the school.
At 22 years old, Frederick entered the surgical residency program at Howard University Hospital. He completed a post-doctoral research fellowship and surgical oncology fellowship at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
He also earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Howard University’s School of Business.
Frederick, 43, is married and he and his wife have two children.
While most of his peers were focused on graduating and figuring out “what’s next?”, Kevin Stonewall was discovering colon cancer breakthroughs during his last year of the high school.
As a student working at a Rush University lab during his senior year, the teen from Chicago’s South Side (Ashburn neighborhood) found a critical age-related drawback in an experimental vaccine aimed at preventing colon cancer in mice, according to a report from DNAInfo.
The current rising sophomore and biomedical engineering major at the University of Wisconsin Madison continues to follow his love for science and research a colon cancer vaccine that can be tested on the elderly, and ultimately, be a cure.
“I am very passionate about doing colon cancer research,” Stonewall said. “If it works on humans, I would be overwhelmed. My whole life would flash in front of me.”
Stonewall’s lab director at Rush University, Carl Ruby, said that Stonewall’s experiment helped scientists realize that they needed a special vaccine for older subjects. Ruby said Stonewall, “should be heralded for helping to develop more effective colon cancer treatments that will impact the elderly, the population that is most susceptible to colon cancer.”
Ruby added, ““He has all the tools. He will go far.”
Stonewall’s first tools were four microscopes he received one Christmas from his parents when he was in the fifth grade.
His passion to cure colon cancer was ignited during his freshman year at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, after the uncle of one of his good friends was diagnosed with it and eventually died. “Cancer has taken over a whole bunch of lives, and I felt like I needed to step up and do something about it,” said Stonewall.
According to the Prevent Cancer Foundation, colon cancer is the third most common cancer among African American men and women. African Americans are diagnosed with colon cancer more than any other ethnic group and also have the highest death rates from the disease. Stonewall’s research is critically needed.
Stonewall has won numerous awards for his research and was a finalist for the Intel International Science and Engineer Fair in 2013.
The results of his research were presented at the national meeting for the Society for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer in Washington, D.C., and he is listed as lead author.
To read more about this amazing young man, click here.
By JESSE WASHINGTON of the Associated Press via Huff Post Black Voices
America’s black colleges are struggling for funds. The Republican Party is struggling to attract black voters.
Enter a $25 million gift to the United Negro College Fund from the conservative Koch brothers, which has pitted the needs of black students against liberals’ insistence that the Kochs are pursuing a racist political agenda.
Whether genuine philanthropy, political jujitsu or some of both, the gift sparked a debate that peaked when Lee Saunders, president of the powerful American Federation for State, County and Municipal Employees union, sent the UNCF a blistering letter ending the union’s financial support.
Historically black colleges and universities have educated a huge percentage of black America. Today, HBCUs are facing unprecedented challenges: decreases in government funding, tougher parent loan eligibility, and the threat of losing even more federal aid based on low retention and graduation rates.
In this environment, how could the UNCF turn down $25 million — much of it earmarked for direct distribution to needy students?
“I can take their money and use it for good,” said Walter Kimbrough, president of Dillard University.
Kimbrough’s historically black university has already received about $50,000 from the Kochs’ UNCF gift, earmarked for students whose parents no longer qualify for federal PLUS loans.
Dillard is giving the money in increments of $2,000 to $5,000 to candidates such as an honor student whose single mother lost her job due to health issues. The student had been planning to sleep on classmates’ couches because she didn’t have money for room and board, Kimbrough said.
Kimbrough does not agree with much of the Kochs’ political actions. But “I’ll still fight for things important to the African-American community, and I’ll use their money to do it,” he said.
David and Charles Koch inherited an oil business from their engineer father and expanded it into the privately held Koch Industries, which had $115 billion in 2013 revenues, according to Forbes. They are reviled by liberals for donating hundreds of millions to conservative causes, and have been labeled as racists particularly for their support of laws that critics say make it harder for black people to vote.
“They are white supremacists . They are flooding our country with money,” the activist and entertainer Harry Belafonte said last year.
A Koch spokesperson, Melissa Cohlmia, called Belafonte’s remarks “false and reprehensible.” She said the Kochs “have devoted their lives to advancing tolerance and a free society — where every individual is judged on his or her individual merits and they are free to make decisions about their lives.”
The Kochs have black and white supporters who say their efforts to require voter ID have nothing to do with race, and everything to do with stopping rampant fraud at the polls. Democrats say fraud is minuscule and insignificant, and that the goal of voter ID is to suppress Democratic votes in poor areas, which are disproportionately black. And if the Kochs fund initiatives that unfairly keep black people from voting, Democrats say, that is racist.
As executive director of Color of Change, Rashad Robinson has battled organizations funded by the Kochs such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, which led efforts nationwide to pass voter ID and “stand your ground” laws. Color of Change says 69 corporations have cut ties with ALEC due to their activism.
“Charity is not justice,” Robinson said.
“Giving someone a check at the end of spending years putting in laws to suppress them is not justice. It’s cover,” he said. “It’s maybe allowing the Kochs to sleep well at night.”
Unlike union president Saunders, who criticized UNCF president Michael Lomax for accepting the $25 million and then speaking at a Koch conference, Robinson would not say the gift should have been declined. But he still found it “incredibly challenging.”
“This money is just a drop in the bucket for the Kochs. This is money in the sofa,” he said. “It will not help to shift or change the damage they do and continue to do.”
The racism accusations rankle Armstrong Williams, a black conservative commentator and entrepreneur who graduated from historically black South Carolina State University. He noted that the Kochs have donated smaller amounts to the UNCF for the past decade, and have given to many historically white universities.
“If somebody asks them if they have ever given money to a black institution and they say no, that further cements the idea that they’re racist. So how can they win?” Williams said.
“It sets an example for others to rise above partisanship to do things that empower black students,” he said.
Some see the donation as an opportunity that extends beyond students who need money for school.
“One should not be subject to the simplicity of black and white arguments about this. It’s become divisive, and it shouldn’t be,” said professor Eric Walters, a past president of the faculty senate at Howard University, where he studies neuroscience and molecular genetics.
Walters said the UNCF and HBCUs should use the spotlight of the Koch donation to start new research on the influence of money on politics: “Not for a political agenda, but for scholarship. To educate a Republican or a Democrat.”
He also would like to see the HBCU community use this opportunity to generate dialogue about how the Kochs’ wider agenda impacts black Americans — and to challenge others to donate as much as the Kochs.
If they do, Walters said, “you can leave the Koch brothers behind, black people.”
The Associated Press via Huff Post Black Voices
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Civil rights leaders at the NAACP annual convention in Las Vegas on Tuesday worried that dwindling African-American turnout in November could lead to the expansion of voter-identification laws that make it harder for that community to vote in subsequent contests.
In 2012, blacks turned out at a higher rate than whites for what is believed to be the first time in American history and helped re-elect President Obama. But in the prior midterm election, in 2010, blacks turned out at a much lower rate, and Republicans won control of the House of Representatives and many state and local offices.
Jotaka Eaddy, the NAACP’s voting rights director, told a panel on black turnout and voter suppression that “as a result we saw a wave of voter-suppression laws.” Eaddy said 22 states passed laws stiffening requirements on the identification needed to vote, a move that disproportionately affects poor and minority voters.
Added the Rev. William Barber, an NAACP board member: “We’re in a position to have 2010 all over again unless we do something about it.”
Polls have shown that Democrats, including black voters, are far less enthusiastic about the coming midterm elections than Republicans, who could win control of the U.S. Senate. President Obama has said that Democrats have to learn to mobilize voters in non-presidential elections.
One way blacks have been motivated is by warnings of Republican attempts to limit their ability to vote. Republicans say they are only trying to stamp out voter fraud, but Democrats have highlighted the efforts to mobilize black voters. That effort continued Tuesday as speakers noted that the upcoming election will occur as the Voting Rights Act has, in their view, been gutted by a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
NAACP President Cornell William Brooks said in an interview that because turnout generally drops among all groups in midterm elections, each vote has an even bigger impact — making voter protections more critical.
“Off-year elections only emphasize the degree to which we need a full and robust Voting Rights Act,” Brooks said.
“That’s what ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ is all about. Helping more of our young people stay on track. Providing the support they need to think more broadly about their future. Building on what works – when it works, in those critical life-changing moments.”
– President Barack Obama, February 27, 2014
Posted: July, 21, 2014
In February, as part of his plan to make 2014 a year of action focused on expanding opportunity for all Americans, the President unveiled the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential. As part of the initiative’s launch, the President also established the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force to review public and private sector programs, policies, and strategies and determine ways the Federal Government can better support these efforts, and how to better involve State and local officials, the private sector, and the philanthropic community.
Today, the President will announce new commitments in support of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative at the Walker Jones Education Center in Washington, DC. Following the announcement, the President will hold a town hall session where he will take questions from the group of DC-area youth who will attend the event. During the session, the President will highlight how the My Brother’s Keeper initiative and the Administration continue to work to build ladders of opportunity for all young people across the country. In attendance at the event will be leaders from 60-plus school districts across the country with the Council of the Great City Schools, parents, business leaders, athletes, mayors and members of Congress.
Today, Magic Johnson Enterprises’ Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Deloitte CEO Joe Echevarria launched the National Convening Council (“NCC”), an independent private sector initiative bringing together leaders from business, philanthropy and the faith, youth and nonprofit communities. Over the next several months, the NCC will travel the country, lifting up examples of cross-sector efforts that are having a positive impact on boys and young men of color.
Creating Opportunity for All
For decades, opportunity has lagged for boys and young men of color. But across the country, communities are adopting approaches to help put these boys and young men on the path to success. And the President, joined by foundations, businesses, and many other leaders, wants to build on that success to ensure that all young people, including boys and young men of color, who are willing to work hard have an opportunity to get ahead and reach their full potential.
The My Brother’s Keeper initiative encourages the use of proven tools that expand opportunity for young people, including access to basic health, nutrition, mentorship, high-quality early education and early introductions into the workforce, as well as partnering with communities and police to reduce violence and make our classrooms and streets safer.
On May 30th, the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force released its 90-day report. This report includes key indicators that will provide a comprehensive view of the environments and outcomes for boys and young men of color and their peers. It also contains recommendations on steps our society can take to begin to expand opportunity for all in areas including:
o Entering school ready to learn;
o Reading at grade level by third grade;
o Graduating from high school ready for college and career;
o Completing post-secondary education or training;
o Entering the workforce; and
o Reducing violence and providing a second chance.
The Administration is doing its part by identifying programs and policies that work, and recommending action that will help all our young people succeed. Since the launch of My Brother’s Keeper, the President’s Task Force has met with and heard from thousands of Americans, through online and in-person listening sessions, who are already taking action.
Today, leading private sector organizations announced independent commitments that further the goals of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative and directly address some of the key recommendations in the Task Force Report.
Reducing High School Dropout Rates, Improving the Worst Performing Schools and Actively Recruiting High Quality and Sustained Mentors:
- The NBA, the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) announced a five-year commitment in partnership with MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, Team Turnaround and the Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS).
o Through the partnership, these organizations will support a public service announcement campaign designed to recruit 25,000 new mentors, with a specific emphasis on recruiting men of color.
o The NBA and its teams will work with educators in at-risk schools across many of their franchise cities to provide incentive programs that increase attendance and improve overall school performance. Current and former NBA players will also participate in a series of grassroots, “lessons in leadership and teamwork” workshops in schools and after-school organizations that will inspire boys and young men of color to take charge of their lives, make good decisions, and be successful in their pursuit of education.
- AT&T announced an $18 million commitment this year to support mentoring and other education programs with a mentoring component as part of the company’s Aspire initiative – a $350 million commitment focused on high school success and workforce readiness for students at risk of dropping out of school.
o AT&T is launching the Aspire Mentoring Academy Corps, powered by AmeriCorps, AT&T and MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership to support AmeriCorps members in regions around the country and engage thousands of at-risk youth in mentoring activities.
o AT&T will expand the engagement of its employees through the Aspire Mentoring Academy with a goal to provide students who are at risk of dropping out of high school with 1 million hours of mentoring by the end of 2016.
o AT&T is using technology to scale its efforts through online mentoring, developing a mentoring app and piloting a program that mentors students through the CISCO IT certification process, thus developing critical Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills.
Creating High Schools for the New Economy
- With a commitment of $50 million, the Emerson Collective, founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, along with partners from Silicon Valley and elsewhere, will collaborate with districts and educators to launch a competition to find and develop the best designs for next generation high schools.
o Efforts will include connecting some of Silicon Valley’s best innovators and design thinkers with some of the country’s most effective and inventive educators and students to create schools for the new economy and provide models that can be adopted by other schools in the future.
o This school redesign initiative aims to use the best in design thinking, education research and practice and technology to create new school environments to dramatically increase the engagement and success of currently underserved students enabling them to achieve and compete at the highest levels and provide the supports, tools and resources educators need to be and feel engaged, effective and supported.
Encouraging and Supporting Comprehensive Cradle-to-College-and-Career Community Solutions for Youth:
- Today, the leaders of 60 of the largest school systems in the country, which collectively educate nearly three million of America’s male students of color, have joined in an unprecedented pledge to change life outcomes of boys and young men of color by better serving these students at every stage of their education.
o Through an eleven-point plan that stretches from early childhood to graduation, these school districts will better support boys and young men of color by focusing on strategies with proven results. These include expanding access to high quality preschool, implementing or scaling early warning systems to prevent grade retention, establishing programs to reduce suspensions and expulsions, increasing access to advanced and rigorous coursework and ensuring increased FAFSA completion.
Expanding Access to Advanced Placement (AP) Courses and Rigorous College Prep:
- The College Board is investing over $1.5 million for “All In”, a national College Board program to ensure that 100% of African American, Latino, and Native American students with strong AP potential enroll in at least one matched AP class before graduation.
o As part of their “All In” commitment, the College Board is partnering with all 60 school superintendents who have signed on to the CGCS pledge to identify and reach out to young men of color who have demonstrated the potential to succeed in AP classes.
Creating Entry-Level Job, Mentorship and Apprenticeship Opportunities for Youth:
- Citi Foundation is making a three year, $10 million commitment to create ServiceWorks, a groundbreaking, national program that uses volunteer services to help 25,000 young people in ten cities across the United States develop the skills they need to prepare for college and careers.
o The program, which will deploy 225 AmeriCorps members over three years, will engage youth, age 16-24, in service and build a large-scale volunteer response to the crisis of low college and career attainment. The young people – in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Newark, San Francisco, St. Louis and Washington, D.C. – will receive training in critical 21st century leadership and workplace skills, the chance to build their networks and connections to their communities, and the opportunity to use their new skills by participating in and leading volunteer service projects.
o Thousands of professionals – including Citi employees – will participate as volunteer mentors and trainers.
Disproving the Negative Narrative:
- Discovery Communications will invest more than $1 million to create an original independent special programming event to educate the public about issues related to boys and men of color and address negative public perceptions of them.
o The program will show specific youth stories and the interventions that made a difference in their lives as an illustration of ways to impact the future of boys and men of color. This 1-hour program will air across Discovery networks and is scheduled to air in 2015.
o Discovery Education will also host a series of screenings and town halls in partnership with community based non-profits to discuss “My Brother’s Keeper” stories of intervention and ways that communities can get involved and help address this important issue facing our Nation.
Building on Successful Evidence Based Programs that Recruit High Quality and Sustained Mentors:
- Becoming A Man (B.A.M.) and Match tutoring programs announced $10 million in new funding.
o The funding will support the expansion of B.A.M. and Match tutoring programs, in addition to supporting a large-scale study on the programs’ long-term effects conducted by the University of Chicago Crime Lab and Urban Education Lab. B.A.M. is a mentoring and cognitive behavioral therapy program developed by the nonprofit organization Youth Guidance. Match is an intensive, individualized math tutoring intervention developed by Match Education.
o The commitment is made possible by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Public Schools.
o With this announcement, B.A.M. and Match are also committing to expand to 3-5 new cities over the next three years.
MBK Task Force Commitments
Through the MBK Task Force, a federal interagency working group created by Presidential Memorandum, the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Agriculture (USDA), along with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) announced today two new youth corps programs to expand opportunities for youth. Both programs directly address recommendations in the Task Force Report. The programs are intended to help young people successfully enter the workforce as well as create additional job opportunities and increase entry-level job, mentorship and apprenticeship options for all young people, including boys and young men of color.
Supporting Disconnected Youth Through Service and Engagement:
- CNCS and the DOJ’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) today announced a jointly funded AmeriCorps program called Youth Opportunity AmeriCorps.
o The program, which totals up to $10 million over three years, will enroll disconnected youth in national service programs as AmeriCorps members over the next 3 years. It includes a mentorship component, in which grantees will provide mentoring support to the AmeriCorps members.
Providing Opportunities that Build Early Career Skills:
- USDA and AmeriCorps today announced a landmark new partnership between AmeriCorps and the USDA’s Forest Service, which connects youth with service opportunities to restore the nation’s forests and grasslands.
o The $3.8 million joint funding will provide resources for both AmeriCorps grantees and member organizations of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC), and will also provide for 300 new AmeriCorps members serving in U.S. Forests.
Previous Private Sector Commitments
- In June 2014, eleven of the nation’s leading philanthropies announced a $194 million investment in initiatives to expand opportunity for boys and young men of color.
- In June 2014, UBS America announced a five-year, $10 million commitment to establish a new education platform for improving college success among under-resourced populations. Commencing in three markets — New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — with an intensive program focused on young men of color, UBS NextGen Leaders aims to empower students with the skills, knowledge and experience needed to succeed in college and compete in the global marketplace.
- In June 2014, JPMorgan Chase & Co. launched the expansion of “The Fellowship Initiative: Expanding the Horizons of Young Men of Color,” to provide boys and young men of color with long-term fellowships and pathways to jobs. The program involves a $10 million commitment to expand the effort to three cities serving nearly 200 youth.