Innovating for Success: The 2014 National HBCU Week Conference

U.S. Department of Education Blog - Thu, 2014-10-02 09:53

“Over the next few years, I believe Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will in many respects become more essential, not less so, to meeting our nation’s educational and economic goals,” Secretary Arne Duncan told those gathered at the 2014 National HBCU Week Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Secretary affirmed the necessity and vitality of HBCUs, and pledged to help ensure that all 105 of these unique and historic American institutions continue to thrive.

The annual conference is a forum for HBCU presidents, administrators, students, and stakeholders to meet directly with federal and private sector representatives to discuss strategies for sustained impact in preparing new generations of leaders. This year’s conference – HBCUs: Innovators for Future Success – focused on the community’s efforts to remain at the forefront of educational advancement.

“We, as the current leaders of the black college community, like our predecessors, recognize the great tasks ahead of us. And, like our predecessors, we recognize that not only the future of African-American success, but the future of American and global success, rest on the innovation cultivated at or by black colleges,” said George Cooper, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs.

Duncan used his keynote address to applaud the remarkable legacy of HBCUs and to reject the notion that HBCUs are no longer necessary in the 21st century.

“[HBCUs] still have an outsize role in preparing students to meet urgent national priorities in STEM fields, in filling teaching jobs, and in uplifting boys and men of color,” said Duncan.

He also noted the critical roles that HBCUs play in extending the reach of the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative and President Obama’s North Star education goal of again having the world’s highest proportion college graduates. And, he highlighted some of the HBCUs that are leading the way.

“At Hampton University I saw its cutting-edge Proton Therapy Institute for treating cancer. President Harvey’s vision there is remarkable. At Morgan State, under President Wilson’s outstanding leadership, the university formed a groundbreaking partnership with the Universities Space Research Association. Morgan State landed a $28 million contract—its biggest federal contract in history—to develop critical expertise on climate issues and atmospheric science,” Duncan said.

“It’s imperative that we start uplifting boys and men of color, as President Obama is seeking to do. And here again, HBCUs can help show the way,” he added. “I know HBCUs can pioneer innovation and international education.”

After the Secretary’s keynote remarks, he was joined by Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Carrie Hessler-Radelet, director of the Peace Corps, and Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation of Community and National Service. The four updated the audience on a joint effort to encourage public service employers to inform their employees, volunteers and recent graduates about public service opportunities and student loan repayment options and tools – including the CFPB Public Service Toolkit to help teachers and other public servants tackle student debt.

Read the entire speech by Secretary Duncan and be sure follow the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities on Twitter: @WHI_HBCUs.

De’Rell Bonner is a special assistant and youth liaison in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

Categories: Higher Education News

Ask Arne: The Importance of Teacher Diversity

U.S. Department of Education Blog - Thu, 2014-10-02 06:28

The importance of teacher diversity hits home for me as a former teacher in an urban school district. That is why I am currently a doctoral candidate studying education at Johns Hopkins University. It’s also one of the reasons I applied for an internship at the U.S. Department of Education.

I taught in a public college prep magnet high school in the District of Columbia for six years. I saw how few role models and mentors of color my students were able to find at school – and I was concerned about the impact that might have on their learning. I also wondered how our young people would gain the confidence and commitment they’d need to become leaders in their communities, when many of their school leaders did not reflect these students’ own experiences and backgrounds.

The administrators at my school were committed to having a diverse faculty, but there were many challenges. There was a small applicant pool of experienced, qualified teachers of color. Additionally, I observed that it was difficult to attract and retain educators of color in my high-needs district.

As I’ve done my doctoral research I’ve come to realize that my experience wasn’t unique. Nationwide, there’s a lack of minority teachers in the workforce, and the problem is particularly acute in urban school districts. I’ve come to realize that significant steps need to be taken to address this issue. Right now, it’s an unfortunate cycle: many promising students of color may not even consider teaching as a viable career choice because they haven’t seen many teachers that look like them.

As my research continues, I plan to focus on finding new ways to address this crisis. Here at the Department of Education, it is an issue that continues to garner the attention of senior leaders.

During a recent installment of “Ask Arne,” Secretary Duncan; David Johns, Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans; and Joiselle Cunningham, 2013 Teaching Ambassador Fellow, discussed the importance of teacher diversity.

Johns recalled his experiences teaching in an urban school, and described the role he was able to play in creating a positive school culture that handled discipline in an unbiased and constructive way, especially for young African-American boys. He noted that it’s not just important for African-American and Hispanic students to have teachers that share their experiences and culture—it is important for all students to learn from a diverse, committed, and passionate group of teachers.

One of America’s greatest strengths is its diversity. We need to do a better job of making sure our teacher workforce embodies those strengths and values.

Kristen Moore is an intern in the Office of the Secretary.

Categories: Higher Education News

How Students Seized the Lead in Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Campaign

Chronicle of Higher Education - Thu, 2014-10-02 02:56

An older generation of professors and others had been planning a mass demonstration. Then a boycott of college classes unleashed students to the streets.

Categories: Higher Education News

What Lurks Behind Graduation Rates? A Lot of Noise—and Meaning

Chronicle of Higher Education - Thu, 2014-10-02 02:55

Take a trip through Indiana University’s unusually complete data, and you’ll get a glimpse of why top-line numbers can take you only so far.

Categories: Higher Education News

A Changing View on Concussions? The Jury's Still Out

Chronicle of Higher Education - Thu, 2014-10-02 02:51

The University of Michigan has seen an uproar over its handling of a quarterback's head injury. Some observers hope they're watching a watershed moment.

Categories: Higher Education News

Working Together to Provide Resources to Prevent Bullying This Month and Every Month

U.S. Department of Education Blog - Wed, 2014-10-01 13:55

Cross-posted from the Stopbullying Blog.

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month and it’s a good time for schools (including personnel and students), communities, districts, and states to take stock of current efforts to reduce and prevent bullying. Do current school climates make students feel safe, allowing them to thrive academically and socially? Are youth comfortable speaking up if they are being bullied? Are members of the community engaged and are the media aware of best practices when it comes to reporting bullying stories?

In recognition of the efforts to improve school climate and reduce rates of bullying nationwide, the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention (FPBP) are proud to release a variety of resources aimed at informing youth, those who work with youth, members of the media, parents, and schools. These resources and more maybe found at Stopbullying.gov.

Here are several of the exciting efforts being highlighted this month:

  • #StopBullying365 – All month long, the FPBP will be using the hashtag #StopBullying365 to collect stories of how individuals and communities are taking action in bullying prevention. Join StopBullying.gov on Facebook andTwitter to learn more.
  • The FPBP are pleased to announce the start of a year-long relationship with NASA’s Scott Kelly, who will make bullying prevention a priority during his time in space. Watch Astronaut Kelly’s video.
  • KnowBullying. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) new mobile app provides parents, caretakers, and teachers with important bullying prevention information, and can help get the conversation started between parents/caregivers and children about bullying in as little as 15 minutes a day.
  • Bullying, Harassment, & Civil Rights: An Overview of School Districts’ Federal Obligation to Respond to Harassment. This video, developed collaboratively by ED, DOJ, and SAMHSA, of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, outlines school districts’ federal obligations to respond to harassment.
  • Increasing Capacity for Reducing Bullying and Its Impact on the Lifecourse of Youth Involved. This report summarizes findings from the Institute of Medicine Workshop held in April, 2014, funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration. More than 20 presenters shared research on how families, schools and communities can take effective action to stop bullying and reduce its harmful effects.
  • Internet Safety Two-Part Webinar Series – On October 30, 2014 from 2-3pm EDT, the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention National Training and Technical Assistance Center will host the first of a two-part webinar series. This series is a collaborative effort by DOJ, the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Agriculture, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The first webinar will focus on internet safety and cyberbullying. The second webinar will occur in mid-November and focus on sexting and sextortion. Stay tuned to StopBullying.gov for more information!
  • Media Guidelines for Bullying Prevention. Media coverage of social issues has a big impact on how communities understand and address problems. Research and expert opinion suggest that certain trends in media coverage of bullying have the potential to do harm. This guidance offers help to journalists, bloggers, the entertainment creative community, and others who are developing content about bullying to engage in responsible reporting on this important topic.

With all of these new resources and attention, it’s a great time to consider how you can help raise awareness about bullying and take action to stop it. Teens can find inspiration by visiting our Tumblr site. Tell us what you are going to do by engaging on Facebook and Twitter using #StopBullying365.

Katie Gorscak works at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Sarah Sisaye works at the U.S. Department of Education.

Categories: Higher Education News

India Plans to Create University Ranking That Factors in 'Social Responsibilities'

Chronicle of Higher Education - Wed, 2014-10-01 11:06

With its universities often faring poorly in global rankings, the Indian government wants to create a national criteria to measure universities by. 

Categories: Higher Education News

Progress in Action: Celebrating Hispanic Educational Achievement

U.S. Department of Education Blog - Wed, 2014-10-01 08:04

Reposted from the President Obama and the Hispanic Community Blog.

The following article was published on Univision.com. You can read the original article in Spanish HERE.

Each year, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month we recognize and celebrate the rich histories and significant contributions made by Hispanics throughout this great nation. With over 54 million people, Hispanics are the largest, youngest, and fastest-growing minority group, and will represent 70 percent of our nation’s population growth between 2015 and 2060. From preschool to postsecondary education, Hispanic representation is palpable. Hispanics now make up the majority of students in our public schools, with 1 out of every 4 students in K-12 grades. Similarly, college enrollment is up more for Hispanics than any other group.

Earlier this year the President said that 2014 would be a “year of action”. In this spirit, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics (Initiative) officially launched our “Anniversary Year of Action” – a call to action to expand upon the progress and achievement made in Hispanic education.

As a community, we have made significant progress. According to the Census Bureau (2011), the Hispanic high school dropout rate has been cut in half from 28 percent in 2000 to 14 percent in 2011.The  Hispanic graduation rate has increased to 76 percent – an all-time high. College enrollment among Hispanics reached a record high and continues to increase. In 2012, the college enrollment rate among 18-to-24-year-old Hispanic high school graduates was over 49 percent, up from 31 percent in 2002.

We recognize there is more work to do and that it’s a shared responsibility—everyone will have a role to play in ensuring the continued success of our community. Over the coming year we will highlight “Bright Spots” that are providing a quality early childhood education, robust and rigorous K-12 education experiences, supporting increased participation in STEM courses, promoting promising practices, partnerships, and institutions of higher education that are graduating more Latinos ready and prepared to enter the competitive workforce, preparing more Hispanics into the teaching profession, while highlighting collaborative efforts supporting our young Hispanic girls and boys through the President’s initiative My Brother’s Keeper.

We will continue working towards the President’s 2020 goal of once again leading the world in college completion. Over the last 12 months, the Initiative has been deeply committed to amplifying the Administration’s education agenda, building partnerships and expanding commitments to support education for Hispanics, while also highlighting the Hispanic community’s progress. Through a number of activities – from national policy forums and back-to-school tours to webinars and twitter chats – we reached over 100,000 stakeholders around the United States and Puerto Rico. We heard from parents, students, non-profit, state and local government, business and philanthropy leaders, and educators about their work and challenges. Through strategic outreach and engagement, we learned that the Hispanic community is not only making great strides but eager to reframe the narrative.

We look forward to building on previous successes and producing more helpful tools like our “¡Gradúate! A Financial Aid Guide to Success”, published this May. The bilingual guide – designed to help students and families navigate the college enrollment and financial aid process includes key information about federal financial aid resources available and on scholarships supporting all Hispanic students, including those granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and non-U.S. citizens. We will continue to work towards increasing the number ofHispanic teachers through innovative strategies, such as our #LatinosTeach social media campaign launched this month.

And just this Monday, the White House, as part of Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, honored Latino Educators “Champions of Change” who are doing extraordinary work to educate the next generation of Americans. These Champions have distinguished themselves by devoting their time and energy to creating opportunities for young people to succeed, particularly in low-income communities. The event showcased these leaders and the exceptional contributions to this country. Because, we know that by highlighting progress in action, we will ensure a bright future for the Hispanic community.

Categories: Higher Education News

President Obama Announces the My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge

U.S. Department of Education Blog - Wed, 2014-10-01 07:45

Reposted from the White House Blog.

In February of this year, President Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiative to ensure that all youth, including boys and young men of color, have opportunities to improve their life outcomes and overcome barriers to success. The initiative aims to bring together government, law enforcement, business, non-profit, philanthropic, faith, and community leaders around shared goals for young people in this country.

And now, the Administration is taking this effort local, by engaging Mayors, tribal leaders, and county executives who are stepping up to lead in their communities. In a speech this past Saturday at the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) awards dinner, President Obama announced the My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge, which will encourage communities (cities, counties, suburbs, rural municipalities, and tribal nations) to implement coherent cradle-to-college-and-career strategies aimed at improving life outcomes for all young people, consistent with the goals and recommendations of the White House’s MBK Task Force’s May, 2014 report. Rather than build a new federal program, or provide a top-down solution to problems that are often unique to local neighborhoods, the President has called upon local leaders, and sought to provide them the support and momentum they need, to design and implement strategies that are proven to work to address a set of challenges that are too often taken on in silos.

There is already incredible work being done by elected and community leaders around the country. This MBK Community Challenge is about harnessing that energy, expanding upon it, and operationalizing plans of action to functionally channel it at the local level.

“We need to address the unique challenges that make it hard for some of our young people to thrive,” the President told a packed house at Saturday’s CBC awards dinner. “[W]e all know relatives, classmates, neighbors who were just as smart as we were, just as capable as we were, born with the same light behind their eyes, the same joy, the same curiosity about the world — but somehow they didn’t get the support they needed, or the encouragement they needed, or they made a mistake, or they missed an opportunity; [so] they weren’t able to overcome the obstacles that they faced.”

The stakes couldn’t be higher for our young people, or our country, which is why we’re seeing such eagerness from local officials and community leaders. Already,135 mayors, county officials, tribal leaders, Democrats, and Republicans have signed on. And we’re going to keep welcoming them aboard in the coming weeks and months. These are the leaders that often sit at the intersection of many of the vital systems and structural components needed to enact sustainable change through policy, programs, and partnerships.

But even with leadership from the top in these communities, this must be an all-hands-on-deck effort. To that end, business leaders, non-profits, philanthropies, and local school-systems are organizing themselves independently to support communities’ efforts.

No child in this country should feel like they need to “beat the odds” in order to get ahead, and certainly shouldn’t feel like they are on their own as they try. Our young people deserve better than that, and as a country, we can’t afford to let so many of our children, our future workers, and our future leaders slip through the cracks.

Already on the ground in communities from coast to coast, leaders are responding to the President’s challenge. They are convening stakeholders, setting up data standards, setting goals and priorities, and preparing to redouble their efforts to give every young person a real shot at success, no matter who they are, where there from, or the circumstances into which they were born. Because when we work together to help all young people reach their full potential, we will be that much closer to reaching our full potential as a nation. The My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge is a call to action, and we all have a role to play.

Learn more about the Challenge and please visit MBKchallenge.org to accept the President’s challenge.

Broderick Johnson is an Assistant to the President, White House Cabinet Secretary, and Chair of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force and Jim Shelton is the Deputy Secretary at the Department of Education, and the Executive Director of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force

 

Categories: Higher Education News

6 Things You MUST Know About Repaying Your Student Loans

U.S. Department of Education Blog - Wed, 2014-10-01 06:00

When it comes to repaying your federal student loans, there’s a lot to consider. By taking the time to understand the details of repayment, you can save yourself time and money.

REMEMBER: You never have to pay for help with your federal student loans. If you have any questions at all, contact your servicer. They provide FREE help.

This should help you get started.

When do I begin repaying my federal student loans?

You don’t have to begin repaying most federal student loans until after you leave college or drop below half-time enrollment. Many federal student loans will even have a grace period. The grace period gives you time to get financially settled and to select your repayment plan. Note that for most loans, interest will accrue during your grace period.

Your loan servicer or lender will provide you with a loan repayment schedule that states when your first payment is due, the number and frequency of payments, and the amount of each payment.

Whom do I pay?

You will make your federal student loan payments to your loan servicer*, not the U.S. Department of Education (ED) directly. ED uses several loan servicers to handle the billing and other services on federal student loans. Your loan servicer can work with you to choose a repayment plan and can answer any questions you have about your federal student loans. It’s important to maintain contact with your loan servicer and keep your servicer informed of any changes to your mailing address, e-mail, or phone number so they know where to send correspondence and how to contact you. How much do I need to pay?

Your bill will tell you how much to pay. Your payment (usually made monthly) depends on

  • the type of loan you received,
  • how much money you borrowed,
  • the interest rate on your loan, and
  • the repayment plan you choose.

You can use our repayment estimator to estimate your monthly payments under different repayment plans to determine which option is right for you. Just remember, if you would like to switch repayment plans, you must contact your loan servicer.

How do I make my student loan payments?

There are several ways you can submit payments to your loan servicer, including options to submit your payment online through your loan servicer’s website.

TIP: Your servicer may offer the option to have your payments automatically withdrawn from your bank account each month. You may want to consider this option so you don’t forget to make your payments.

What should I do if I’m having trouble making my student loan payments?

Contact your loan servicer as soon as possible. You may be able to change your repayment plan to one that will allow you to have a longer repayment period or to one that is based on your income. If switching repayment plans isn’t a good option for you, ask your loan servicer about your options for loan consolidation or a deferment or forbearance.

Note: Several third-party companies offer student loan assistance for a fee. Most of these services can be obtained for free from your loan servicer.

What happens if I don’t make my payments?

Not making your student loan payments can result in default, which negatively impacts your credit score. This may affect your ability to borrow for things like buying a car or purchasing a home. Your tax refunds may also be withheld and applied to your outstanding student loan debt. There is never a reason to default. The Department of Education offers several options to ensure that you can successfully manage your student loans. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty making payments, contact your loan servicer for help.

*If you are repaying federal student loans made by a private lender (before July 1, 2010), you may be required to make payments directly to that lender.

Nicole Callahan is a digital engagement analyst at the Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.

Categories: Higher Education News

Video: Gallaudet Takes Action Against Sexual Assaults

Chronicle of Higher Education - Wed, 2014-10-01 02:55

The university for the deaf and hard of hearing has been praised by the Department of Justice for its work in educating staff members and students on sexual-misconduct issues.

Categories: Higher Education News

Meet the First Winners of the Education Dept.’s ‘First in the World’ Grants

Chronicle of Higher Education - Wed, 2014-10-01 02:54

The department has pledged $75-million to 24 institutions that have pledged to improve college access and student learning.

Categories: Higher Education News

Paul Quinn College’s President Makes Recruiting Students a Personal Issue

Chronicle of Higher Education - Tue, 2014-09-30 02:56

Michael J. Sorrell meets prospective applicants one on one. Just as important, he meets with their parents or guardians as well.

Categories: Higher Education News

Video: Genius or Madman? An HBCU Chief Pursues Unconventional Ways to Save a College

Chronicle of Higher Education - Tue, 2014-09-30 02:55

Michael J. Sorrell has had to resort to unusual means to rescue Paul Quinn College from collapse after its accreditation was revoked.

Categories: Higher Education News

What You Need to Know About Companies That Run Online Programs for Colleges

Chronicle of Higher Education - Tue, 2014-09-30 02:55

Institutions benefit from the marketing, technology, and customer-support expertise, but they forfeit potential profit and some control.

Categories: Higher Education News

Can’t Get Into Berkeley? You Might Like ...

Chronicle of Higher Education - Tue, 2014-09-30 02:55

Unless students deliberately opt out, companies can use their information to recruit them for other programs, a contract shows.

Categories: Higher Education News

Community Colleges: The Secret Sauce

U.S. Department of Education Blog - Mon, 2014-09-29 11:51

Cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Work in Progress blog.

Motlow State Community College in Tennessee is working with Bridgestone Tire Company and other employers to expand their mechatronics program, creating a training facility on-site at Bridgestone to prepare students to move quickly into high-skill jobs.

Estrella Mountain Community College is leading a consortium of five Arizona colleges to develop the workforce and talent pipeline required by the region’s energy and mining industries.

Bellevue College in Washington state, together with eight other schools, is launching a program to train veterans and their eligible spouses in the high-demand, high-wage field of health information technology.

All three of these efforts – and many more – are the result of a bold, unprecedented investment the Obama administration has made to expand job-driven training at community colleges nationwide.

The program is called TAACCCT – that stands for Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training.  As acronyms go, I’m not going to say it’s our very best work. But as a commitment to building a 21st century workforce, as a tool to prepare people for the jobs of today and tomorrow, it is second-to-none.

Today, I joined Vice President Biden at the White House for the announcement of the fourth round of TAACCCT grants — 71 of them in all, worth a total of more than $450 million. That comes on top of the nearly $1.5 billion awarded in the first three rounds. With today’s announcement, roughly 700 colleges nationwide have received TAACCCT funding since 2011.

I’ve seen these grants and the programs they support in action. I saw it last year with Dr. Jill Biden when we traveled to a community college in North Carolina to tour their state-of-the-art program in critical infrastructure. The same day we hopped down to South Florida where another TAACCCT grantee has a top-notch aviation institute.

Most importantly, these grants change lives. Joining us at the White House today was Gary Pollard, a former Army medic who is starting a $60,000-a-year job thanks to cyber technology instruction he received through TAACCCT-supported programs at Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) in Maryland. Last year when I visited the college, I met both Gary and Ginny Quillen, a woman who’s faced considerable challenges in her life. Ginny was abused as a child; she was involved with drugs and served time. But through hard work and resilience, she’s overcome the adversity. And with the Information Assurance and Security certificate she earned at AACC, today she makes $52,000 a year in a job she loves and a field she’s passionate about.

No one receives a TAACCCT grant without putting industry partnerships front-and-center. The idea is to align curriculum with the needs of businesses – so ready-to-work Americans can move right into ready-to-be filled jobs. When employers go to hire graduates of these programs, they can have confidence in the relevance of the credential…because they helped design the credential.

What we’re doing is creating a foundation with a lasting impact. This is a Dwight Eisenhower moment — TAACCCT is to our skills infrastructure what the interstate highway system was to our physical infrastructure. President Eisenhower took the long view some 60 years ago and invested in the building blocks that continue to power our economy to this day. And decades from now, our grandchildren will benefit from the on-ramps to college and the off-ramps to middle-class jobs that we’re constructing today.

Community colleges are incubators of innovation and opportunity. They are the secret sauce of workforce development, empowering communities, strengthening businesses and invigorating local economies. Today, we’re not just investing in new facilities, technologies or classroom tools; we’re investing in people’s highest and best dreams. And we’re investing not just in today’s needs, but in American prosperity for generations to come.

Tom Perez is U.S. Secretary of Labor.

Categories: Higher Education News

Working Together to Increase FAFSA Completion

U.S. Department of Education Blog - Mon, 2014-09-29 10:46

In 2012, 32 percent of Indianapolis’ youth were living in poverty, and 57 percent of school-age youth were receiving free or reduced-price lunch. Yet, despite that high level of need, only a third of Indianapolis’ graduating high school seniors were completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Roderick Wheeler, community impact director for education with the Central Indiana Community Foundation, found those numbers frustrating. He decided to take action, and enlisted the help of the Indiana Youth Institute (IYI).

Wheeler and IYI believed the number of students filing the FAFSA would increase if they could connect schools with resources, information, and tools to help students complete their forms, and if they could change the perception that the FAFSA process was complicated. To test their theory, they worked to put the right pieces in place, and added a dash of competition. They created a county-wide Indianapolis FAFSA Completion Challenge. The Marion County high school with the highest percentage increase of senior FAFSA filing would win $5,000 for college and career readiness initiatives.

During the 2012-13 school year, seven county high schools participated. The schools were connected through the Educash program of EduGuide, a non-profit online training program designed to teach schools how to promote a college-going culture and assist students with FAFSA completion. In addition, IYI connected school counselors to local experts who could assist with financial aid nights, staff FAFSA completion events, and work at “College Goal Sunday” locations.

Through tremendous efforts, every school increased its FAFSA filing numbers – and the results were impressive. For instance, Perry Meridian High School, which had never hosted a FAFSA filing event, partnered with the office of the mayor of Indianapolis to offer both tax preparation and FAFSA filing for families. Ben Davis High School hosted several successful events, increasing its FAFSA completion by 23 percent that year – and winning the competition.

Building on these results, the program was expanded for the 2013-14 school year. Schools from the first year chose to participate again, and several new ones joined. Financial aid experts from ISM College Planning, a local nonprofit, helped families understand the financial aid process and explained the likelihood of qualifying for aid, not loans, while handling a host of other questions to reduce families’ anxiety about the FAFSA.

Indiana’s March 10 FAFSA deadline is the earliest in the nation. Yet, with a combination of federal and state financial aid and other supports, the cost of higher education and the college application process should be less daunting for students in the state. The Indianapolis FAFSA Completion project will keep working with schools and families to ensure the financial aid process is easy and understandable – so more students in the Hoosier State can fulfill their college dreams!

Kate Coffman is the Director of College and Career Counseling at the Indiana Youth Institute. IYI offers the free www.driveofyourlife.org and www.triptocollege.org websites, which allow Hoosier students to explore career and postsecondary options.

Categories: Higher Education News

Kicking Off the Fourth Annual Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge

U.S. Department of Education Blog - Mon, 2014-09-29 09:41

Cross-posted from the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships blog.

Acting on a recommendation by the first Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, President Obama established the Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge to build bridges of understanding across our differences, especially among rising leaders, and to serve our neighbors. Interfaith service involves people from different religious and non-religious backgrounds tackling community challenges together – for example, Protestants and Catholics, Hindus and Jews, and Muslims and non-believers – building a Habitat for Humanity house together. Interfaith service impacts specific community challenges, while building social capital and civility.

This week, the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Department of Education, and Corporation for National and Community Service hosted a gathering to kick off the President’s Fourth Annual Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge. More than 500 college students, chaplains, faculty, and administrators – including over 50 college presidents – participated in the two-day event.

The Challenge has grown by leaps and bounds since 2011 when President Obama first encouraged college presidents to establish or expand programs in interfaith and community service. Currently, more than 400 institutions of higher education participate in the Challenge.

The national gathering this week began with Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, welcoming college presidents and supporters. It concluded with remarks by Treasury Secretary and former member of the CNCS Board of Directors, Jack Lew, and a showing of the award-winning film, Of Many, which follows the friendship and interfaith partnership of New York University’s Imam Khalid Latif and Rabbi Yehuda Sarna. These two sessions bookended a series of fascinating panel discussions, presentations, and community conversations involving a diverse array of academics, students, advocates, governmental officials, and think tank scholars. 

A new step forward for the Challenge this year was the fact that recognition for interfaith community service was included in the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The Honor Roll, launched in 2006, annually highlights the role colleges and universities play in solving community problems and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement by recognizing institutions that achieve meaningful, measureable outcomes in the communities they serve. The President’s Honor Roll now recognizes higher education institutions in four categories: General Community Service, Interfaith Community Service, Economic Opportunity, and Education. Also for the first time this year, a school was selected as a winner of a Presidential Award for Interfaith Community Service. That honor went to Loras College, a Catholic affiliated school in Dubuque, Iowa. One of the school’s many achievements is partnering with the AmeriCorps VISTA program to recruit and retain volunteers to tackle a range of challenges. This year and every year, the Campus Challenge demonstrates President Obama’s longstanding commitment to expanding and supporting national service, which he recently highlighted at the White House’s 20th Anniversary of AmeriCorps celebration.

Thanks to all who make the goals of interfaith and community service a priority, and a very special thanks to the Department of Education’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships for its leadership in planning and organizing this week’s event. We are excited about future of the Challenge.

If you’d like to learn more about the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, contact the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Education at EdPartners@ed.gov.

Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Secretary Arne Duncan, Wendy Spencer, and Melissa Rogers present Loras College a Presidential Award for Interfaith Community Service through the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll at George Washington University.

Melissa Rogers is the Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Categories: Higher Education News
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