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35 posts categorized "Latinos/Hispanics"

'Under Construction': La Plazita Institute - Albuquerque, New Mexico

March 18, 2014

Under-construction-logoUnder Construction is a multimedia online exhibit showcasing some of the best and brightest organizations working with males of color. The UC team of filmmakers, photographers, writers, and nonprofit experts worked directly with each of these organizations for several weeks. The collaborations yielded comprehensive portraits of the services men of color receive. Each profile features a short video, a photography exhibit, a visual program model, and a narrative essay detailing the efforts of these organizations.

Under Construction is a project of Frontline Solutions and was made possible through the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

As in the desert that surrounds this city, it seems almost all living happens at dusk. The sun throws rose-colored light on the Sandia Mountains, the pale houses empty, and the sidewalks fill. Above, the skies look brush-stroked and extravagant, and a breeze comes, as if it had been hiding, too. When you endure in the desert, this hour is your reward.

And if you are a boy here, this is the hour when someone will show you a crooked path to manhood. You'll follow an older brother or cousin down to the Rio Grande to receive an initiation of blows and beatings. There, under the Cottonwoods, you'll try not to cry when they say you need to go beat up that kid you used to play with. In just a little while they'll call you carnalito (little brother, little dude).

Like many of the Chicano and Native American youth in Albuquerque who take guidance from La Plazita Institute, Raymond Maestas was brought into gang life before he got out of middle school. He learned to go at life with a gun on his waist and to get away from it all by taking a hit. But one day when he was fifteen a man invited him to earn respect a different way, by talking about his feelings, by serving his neighborhood, and by beginning to honor a heritage he had never been taught. The man was Albino Garcia, and the place was called La Plazita. The other guys in the room, the ones he was supposed to open up to? They were the ones he'd been conditioned to hate.

"I was stuck in the life, gang style life, I grew up here in the South Valley, you know," Maestas remembers. (South Valley is a neighborhood in the city's Southeast District.) "The words of Albino made me think. I was fifteen and I had a son.

That was ten years ago, soon after La Plazita began trying to help one of the most underserved populations in the country with programs like organic gardening, ceramics, and screen printing, along with traditional Native American rituals like a sweat lodge and "Warrior Circles." Here Maestas, who is twenty-five now and is covered neck to waist in tattoos, will tell younger teens how he learned to talk about his feelings, and, perhaps for the first time, those mentees will know someone who has dared to walk a different path.

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Creating Paths to College and the Urgency of Now

October 29, 2013

(Rhonda Tsoi-A-Fatt Bryant is the interim director of the Youth Policy team at the Center for Law and Social Policy, a D.C.-based nonprofit advocacy organization that works to improve the lives of low-income people. This is her first post for PhilanTopic.)

Headshot_RhondaTI was a STEM whiz as a child — a seemingly unlikely thing for a girl, and an African-American girl at that, to be. In middle school, I attended a magnet program and learned computer programming while taking advanced math and science classes. In high school, I took calculus and physics and learned a computer programming language. My primary interest was engineering, so my school district helped me attend summer programs at area universities. That experience landed me a job at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at the age of 17.

Although I chose public policy instead of engineering as my life's work, those were the opportunities that put me on a path to college. My middle school and high school offered classes that nurtured my interests in mathematics and science. I had great teachers who used hands-on learning to take basic lessons to the next level. I remember our physics teacher explaining the science behind breaking boards martial arts-style and wading in the Chesapeake River in hip-high boots to learn about plant life. I also had guidance counselors who knew me personally, connected me to summer opportunities that allowed me to cultivate my academic interests, and walked me through the college application process. My family couldn't afford to pay for college. Without these opportunities, it would have been far more difficult to continue my education.

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When It Comes to Health, Place Matters

October 02, 2013

(Dr. Brian D. Smedley is vice president and director of the Health Policy Institute of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, D.C.)

Headshot_brian_smedley.jpg_3The implementation of the Affordable Care Act is an achievement Americans can be proud of. Making sure that all our brothers and sisters, children and grandchildren, have proper health insurance makes us a stronger, more prosperous nation.

Amid this important change, however, we cannot ignore the work that remains to be done, especially in communities of color. Insurance cards are not enough.

To become a society with better health -- not just better health coverage -- we must also look at the role "place" plays in the lives of minority communities.

Where we live, work, and play is surprisingly predictive of lifespan. Within the City of Boston, for instance, people in some census tracts live thirty-three years less than those in nearby tracts. In Bernalillo County, New Mexico, the difference is twenty-two years.

Researchers are releasing Community Health Equity Reports at the Place Matters 2013 National Health Equity Conference today in Washington, D.C. Data from Baltimore, Birmingham, Chicago, New Orleans, and other cities demonstrates that where you live is a powerful determinant for how long you'll live.

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What Innovation in Education Really Means – Doing What Works!

September 06, 2013

(Dr. Tiffany Cooper Gueye is chief executive officer of BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), a national nonprofit that aims to transform the academic achievement, self-confidence, and life trajectories of children living in underresourced urban communities.)

Headshot_Tiffany-Cooper-GueyeWhen the "No Child Left Behind Act" was signed into law by President George W. Bush in January 2002, there were an estimated 141 million cell phones in use in the United States. Today the number of active wireless devices stands at 326 million and the majority of them are tablets or smartphones -- devices that were the stuff of science fiction back in 2002. Needless to say, technological innovation transformed the telecommunications industry in a few short years -- and the world changed forever.

Sadly, we've seen no such transformation in education since the enactment of legislation that was meant to shine a light on student achievement gaps and schools with consistently poor outcomes. Yes, government leaders are quick to trumpet the latest "innovation" in the field and "experts" obsess over every fad and new technology, but poor schools and student achievement gaps are as much a part of the education landscape today as they were in 2002. And that's a shame, because we already have some of the tools and approaches we need to make huge leaps forward in the way we educate our children.

Case in point: summer learning.

Summer learning works, and the lack of it in places where it's most needed clearly compromises student achievement and school success. Indeed, we have decades of research quantifying the reality of summer learning loss and a growing body of evidence about the value of summer learning programs. Yet for millions of children, summer learning loss is an accepted fact of life.

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The New White Negro

August 24, 2013

On August 28, 1963, America witnessed what was arguably the greatest demonstration for racial justice in the history of the country. Half a century after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the looming question of racial equality in America remains.

In the lead-up to the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, PhilanTopic is publishing a ten-part series, sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, in which some of America's most important writers explore our race issues, past and present.

In the eighth installment of that series (click here for the seventh, "Prison's Dilemma," by Glenn C. Loury), Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of many books on the economy, most recently Creating an Opportunity Society, examines the role of race and class in the breakdown of family formation among lower-income American families over the last fifty years. The essay below first appeared in the Washington Monthly and is reprinted here with the permission of that publication.

Headshot_isabel_sawhillIn 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan released a controversial report written for his then boss, President Lyndon Johnson. Entitled "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action" (76 pages, PDF), it described the condition of lower-income African American families and catalyzed a highly acrimonious, decades-long debate about black culture and family values in America.

The report cited a series of staggering statistics showing high rates of divorce, unwed childbearing, and single motherhood among black families. "The white family has achieved a high degree of stability and is maintaining that stability," the report said. "By contrast, the family structure of lower class Negroes is highly unstable, and in many urban centers is approaching complete breakdown."

Nearly fifty years later, the picture is even more grim -- and the statistics can no longer be organized neatly by race. In fact, Moynihan's bracing profile of the collapsing black family in the 1960s looks remarkably similar to a profile of the average white family today. White households have similar -- or worse -- statistics of divorce, unwed childbearing, and single motherhood as the black households cited by Moynihan in his report. In 2000, the percentage of white children living with a single parent was identical to the percentage of black children living with a single parent in 1960: 22 percent.

What was happening to black families in the '60s can be reinterpreted today not as an indictment of the black family but as a harbinger of a larger collapse of traditional living arrangements -- of what demographer Samuel Preston, in words that Moynihan later repeated, called "the earthquake that shuddered through the American family."

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Prison's Dilemma

August 21, 2013

On August 28, 1963, America witnessed what was arguably the greatest demonstration for racial justice in the history of the country. Half a century after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the looming question of racial equality in America remains.

In the lead-up to the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, PhilanTopic is publishing a ten-part series, sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, in which some of America's most important writers explore our race issues, past and present.

In the seventh installment of that series (click here for the sixth, "A Dedicated Life: Shirley Sherrod's Ongoing Battle for Racial Cooperation in Georgia," by Ryan Cooper), Glenn C. Loury, the Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences and Professor of Economics at Brown University, explains how America's overreliance on incarceration adversely affects African Americans and exacerbates existing racial and class inequalities. The essay below first appeared in the Washington Monthly and is reprinted here with the permission of that publication.

Headshot_glenn_louryOver the past four decades, the United States has become a punitive nation without historical precedent or international parallel. With roughly 5 percent of the world's population, the U.S. currently confines about one-quarter of the world's prison inmates. In 2008,one in a hundred American adults was behind bars. Just what manner of people does our prison policy reveal us to be?

America, with great armies deployed abroad under a banner of freedom, nevertheless harbors the largest infrastructure for the mass deprivation of liberty on the planet. We imprison nearly as great a fraction of our population to a lifetime in jail (around seventy people for every hundred thousand residents) as Sweden, Denmark, and Norway imprison for any duration whatsoever.

That America's prisoners are mainly minorities, particularly African Americans, who come from the most disadvantaged corners of our unequal society, cannot be ignored. In 2006, one in nine black men between the ages of twenty and thirty-four was serving time. The role of race in this drama is subtle and important, and the racial breakdown is not incidental: prisons both reflect and exacerbate existing racial and class inequalities.

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The Next Affirmative Action

August 02, 2013

On August 28, 1963, America witnessed what was arguably the greatest demonstration for racial justice in the history of the country. Half a century after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the looming question of racial equality in America remains.

In the lead-up to the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, PhilanTopic is publishing a ten-part series, sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, in which some of America's most important writers explore our race issues, past and present.

In the fourth installment of that series (click here for the third, "A House Divided," by Thomas J. Sugrue), Kevin Carey, director of the Education Policy program at the New America Foundation, argues that while affirmative action "as we know it is dying," the Supreme Court's targeting of current policies may be "an opportunity to change the way people think about race and higher education." The essay below first appeared in the Washington Monthly and is reprinted here with the permission of that publication.

Affirmative-actionAffirmative action as we know it is dying. A growing number of states have moved to prohibit public universities from considering race in admissions, and the U.S. Supreme Court recently heard arguments in an anti-affirmative action lawsuit that left little doubt about where the Court's conservative majority stands. Less than a decade after the Court upheld racial admissions preferences in Grutter v. Bollinger, newer jurists like Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts seem ready to render unconstitutional a policy that has helped generations of minority students grab a rung on the ladder of opportunity.

The Court's likely decision is particularly odious given the college admissions apparatus it will leave in place. Elite colleges warp and corrupt the meritocratic admissions process in a wide variety of ways. Academically substandard athletes, for example, are allowed in so they can play for the amusement of alumni and help shore up the fundraising base. While some men's football and basketball players come from low-income and minority households, many athletes at the highly selective colleges where affirmative action really matters engage in sports like crew and lacrosse that are associated with white, privileged backgrounds. Colleges also give preference to the children of legacies, professors, celebrities, politicians, and people who write large checks to the general fund. All of these groups are also disproportionately wealthy and white.

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Continuing the Fight for Voting Rights

July 30, 2013

(Ryan P. Haygood is director of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund's Political Participation Group, which works to promote the full, equal, and active participation of black people in the democratic process through legal, legislative, public education, and other means. He has represented people of color in a variety of actions involving voting discrimination, including challenges to discriminatory voting measures under Sections 2 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the United States Constitution, and state laws.)

Headshot_ryan_haygoodIn June 2013, a significant provision of one of the greatest pieces of civil rights legislation ever enacted fell. In Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act. This key provision identified the fifteen states and localities that were subject to Section 5 of the legislation because of longstanding racial discrimination with respect to voting.

Section 5 required those states and localities to demonstrate to the U.S. Department of Justice or a federal court in Washington, D.C., that proposed changes to their voting laws would not discriminate against voters of color -- before those changes were implemented. By striking down Section 4(b), the Supreme Court immobilized Section 5, which is like letting someone keep his or her car but taking away the keys.

The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. represented black community leaders from Shelby County and argued the case in the Supreme Court. We fought to keep these protections in place, and presented irrefutable evidence that racial discrimination persists in the places covered by Sections 4(b) and 5 of the legislation.

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Top 10 Lessons Learned on the Path to Community Change

July 10, 2013

(Robert K. Ross, M.D. is president and CEO of the California Endowment. In part one of this two-part series, Ross shared three "aha" moments from the first two years of the the endowment's Building Healthy Communities initiative. This post originally appeared on the Foundation Center's Transparency Talk blog.)

Headshot_robert_rossAt times I step back and look at the BHC initiative and wonder, Could we have made it more complicated? Fourteen sites. Multiple grantees in each site. A core set of inter-linked health issues. Multiple state-level grantees. And the expectation that the parts will add up to something greater than the whole and catalyze a convergence that builds power at the community level and leads to greater impact.

But then supporting an agenda for social and community change requires multiple strategies operating in alignment; good data, message framing, and storytelling; influential messengers and convening and facilitating champions; innovative models; "grassroots and treetops" coordination; and meaningful community engagement.

Our Top Ten Lessons for Philanthropy

As we engaged in the BHC planning process, we tried in earnest to stick by a key aphorism, one I learned from colleague and mentor Ralph Smith at the Annie E. Casey Foundation: Make new mistakes. With that in mind, I want to share some lessons regarding planning and implementing a community-change initiative.

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U.S. Should Follow California's Lead on Immigration

April 12, 2013

(Ira S. Hirschfield is president of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. Robert K. Ross, MD, is president and chief executive officer of the California Endowment. And Timothy P. Silard is president of the Rosenberg Foundation.)

Statue_of_libertyEquality of opportunity is a fundamentally American value. Throughout our history, we have taken important steps to make our country more equal and to bring opportunity to groups that were denied it in the past.

Today, with national leaders debating plans to reform America's broken immigration system, we may soon be taking the next step in this continuing journey. Getting reform right means keeping our core values front and center, and Californians are showing the way forward.

First, more about the problem. More than 11 million immigrants in this country (including nearly three million in California alone) are living in the shadows. Their invisibility and fear of deportation makes them vulnerable to exploitation at work, reluctant to report crimes or to participate in their communities, and hesitant to get health care when they and their families need it.

This situation is not good for anyone. The American economy and our society are better and stronger when everyone has an opportunity to participate. Having a permanent underclass of aspiring Americans who do not have the same rights as everyone else, and who cannot speak up for their interests without putting themselves and their families at risk, demeans our democracy and diminishes our values.

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[Infographic] Healthy Food and Community Change in NYC

February 16, 2013

On Thursday, the New York City-based Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund launched its Healthy Food & Community Change initiative with a commitment of $15 million over five years for healthy food programs across the city.

As the fund-created infographic below illustrates, there are vast disparities in diet-related diseases across New York City. The initiative aims to address these disparities by supporting strategies designed to increase the availability, affordability, and knowledge of healthy foods while promoting healthy food choices in high-need neighborhoods.

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2012 Year in Review: Underserved Communities Targeted for Larger Share of Philanthropic Pie

December 31, 2012

Pnd_yearinreview_2012The amount of money flowing to nonprofit organizations serving underserved populations and communities of color, and the number of private funders backing such programs, continued to grow in 2012, even as support for those communities from other sources was declining.

Over the course of the year, a number of foundations announced multimillion-dollar commitments to programs designed to address the needs of underserved communities and communities of color. They included the Ford Foundation, which announced a commitment of $100 million over ten years to extend its Ford Fellows program to young scholars from traditionally underrepresented groups; the Lumina Foundation, which awarded $11.5 million to thirteen partnerships working to increase college graduation rates among Latino-American students; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which announced an investment of $9.5 million over three years to improve the health and success of boys of color; and the California Community Foundation, which launched a multimillion-dollar initiative to expand educational and employment opportunities for African-American teenage boys in Los Angeles.

A number of corporate grantmakers also stepped up their support for underserved populations. They included Walmart, which through its foundation awarded $3.35 million to six women's foundations working to help economically vulnerable women achieve financial and economic security; AT&T, which announced a huge, $250 million commitment over five years to improve graduation rates among at-risk youth; and the UPS Foundation, which in February awarded $6 million to nearly a hundred and twenty organizations working to promote diversity and support underserved communities across the country and in June announced grants totaling $6.9 million to support the same kind of work globally.

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'Latin Side of the Docs' in Mexico City

November 27, 2012

(Kathryn Pyle recently marked her fourth anniversary as a PhilanTopic contributor. In her last post, she wrote about Reportero, a new documentary by Bernardo Ruiz about embattled investigative journalists assigned to cover the drug wars in Mexico.)

LSD-MexicoCityLatin Side of the Docs, an annual marketplace and producers forum for documentary filmmakers, came to Mexico City earlier this month, attracting more than two hundred and fifty filmmakers and fifty industry representatives.

Filmmakers, broadcasters, and film distributors, most of them from Latin America, converged on the Spanish Cultural Center in the historic center of the city for the event. The center, which offers a variety of programs in a modern light-filled building, is located just behind the colonial-era Metropolitan Cathedral and ruins of Aztec pyramids bordering the Zócalo, the huge open plaza at the heart of the old city built by the Spaniards.

The three-day event was organized by DocsDF, a documentary film festival founded seven years ago in Mexico City, in collaboration with Sunny Side of the Docs, a longstanding international event/forum that matches documentary filmmakers seeking funds with broadcasters and distributors seeking good films. The organizers of Sunny Side now help stage similar events in Asia and, for the past four years, in Latin America -- the first three in Buenos Aires and now this year in Mexico City. Inti Cordera, a founder and the executive director of DocsDF, and Yves Jeanneau, a French filmmaker who created Sunny Side of the Docs, share a commitment. As Cordera put it, "We believe that documentary film is important and necessary, not just in terms of cinematic quality but also for the messages delivered."

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Stemming the Droput Crisis: A Q&A With AT&T's Beth Adcock Shiroishi

November 20, 2012

Beth_shiroishi_headshotBeth Adcock Shiroishi, vice president for sustainability and philanthropy at AT&T and president of the AT&T Foundation, leads AT&T Aspire, one of the nation's largest corporate commitments focused on helping more students graduate from high school ready for college and careers. The telecommunications giant launched the $100 million initiative in 2008 and expanded it earlier this year with an additional commitment of $250 million over five years, bringing its total investment in the program to $350 million.

After a rigorous and competitive process, AT&T recently selected forty-seven schools and nonprofits from among thousands nationwide to share in nearly $10 million in funding through the Aspire Local Impact request for proposal. Applicants were evaluated based on their alignment with evidence-based approaches, their accomplishments in serving students at risk of dropping out of high school, and their ability to use data to demonstrate the effectiveness of their work.

PND spoke with Shiroishi earlier this month about the initiative.

Philanthropy News Digest: Give us a sense of the scope of the dropout crisis in America?

Beth Adcock Shiroishi: One in four students -- more than one million each year -- fails to graduate with their class. And the picture is even bleaker for minority students, with the graduation rate among Hispanic, African-American, and Native-American students nearly 25 percent lower than the rate for their white and Asian American peers. Obviously, this has huge implications for our future job force, the economy as a whole, and our nation's global competiveness. But while it's a serious and urgent problem, there are signs of progress. Nationally, high school graduation rates are increasing, and we've seen huge gains in certain states and with certain programs that give us hope.

PND: AT&T launched the Aspire program in 2008. What were the goals of the program when it was launched, and have they been met?

BAS: Our original goal was to commit $100 million to fund proven programs aimed at raising the graduation rate, create one hundred thousand job shadow opportunities for students, and support one hundred community dropout summits. Thanks to the tireless work of our employees and nonprofit allies, we achieved these goals. At the same time, we impacted more than one million students in all fifty states and worked with more than one thousand community and national organizations that, like us, understand how important it is to improve graduation rates.

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Preparing Students for College and Careers

October 19, 2012

(Jessica Pliska is the founder and executive director of The Opportunity Network, an intensive, six-year program designed to equal the playing field for high-achieving underserved high school and college students on the road to college and career success.)

Jessica_pliska_headshotThe son of a mail courier and a homemaker, Eric Santiago is the first generation in his family to go to college. He grew up in a low-income family in the Fordham section of the Bronx. When his acceptance letter to Columbia University arrived, Eric made history, becoming the first student from his high school to ever gain admission to the Ivy League.

At Columbia, Eric was unprepared for the academic rigor. "I didn't even know what office hours were, let alone how to use them," he remembers. Assigned The Odyssey in freshman English, he found that many of his classmates had already read it -- in sixth grade. He learned to hold his own with students from tony prep schools who wore designer clothing to class while his blue jeans were stapled together. In his last semester, a financial aid snafu almost prevented him from registering for classes. Less resilient students drop out in the face of similar challenges.

Eric negotiated these situations, graduated in May, and recently landed his first job. But this makes him unusual -- only 10 percent of low-income students graduate college. This number is even more staggering when you consider how many more low-income students are starting college.

It's easy to blame academic unpreparedness or lack of financial resources, both critical issues. But according to a recent study by the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, "even after taking their demographic backgrounds, enrollment characteristics, and academic preparation into consideration, low-income and first-generation students are still at greater risk of failure" – an indication that "the problem is as much the result of [their] experiences during college as it is attributable to the experiences they have before they enroll." Indeed, while a student's academic or financial problems may seem trivial, the smallest of mishaps can spiral into debilitating problems, no matter how much the student wants to succeed.

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