United Negro College Fund helps students across the nation attend college

United Negro College Fund helps students across the nation attend college

(Jonika Stowes/MSR News)
Shamarr McKinney-VanBuren

Minnesota Spokesman Recorder logo

MINNESOTA SPOKESMAN-RECORDER — “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” is the signature slogan at the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), led by President and CEO Michael L. Lomax.

Local UNCF offices across the country are mandated to raise funds for the Washington, D.C. office where scholarship funding for students is distributed. Funding comes from varying sources including special events, workplace campaigns, and individuals who are committed to the mission of UNCF.

Laverne McCartney-Knighton took on the initiative of helping UNCF raise scholarship funds in June 2017 as the new regional development director of the Minneapolis location. With 24 office locations in the Twin Cities, each is poised to bring in substantial funding to help students across the nation attend colleges. Since raised funds are distributed through the Washington, D.C. office, local offices can focus on fundraising.

McCartney-Knighton says, “Most of what we do is relational. We build relationships with key executives within corporations such as Medtronic Foundation, Cargill, 3M and so forth.” McCartney admits that this is her first time as a development director but points out that her previous positions have been in developing relationships with companies.

After 13 years at Target Corporation as a community relations executive for cities such as Chicago, Seattle and Detroit, McCartney went to work for a small nonprofit organization in the Twin Cities before taking the position at UNCF.

Here in the Twin Cities, UNCF’s two major funding events are, first, the Marin Luther King breakfast, a fundraiser through a partnership with General Mills that happens yearly on MLK Day. The other major fundraiser is the Twin Cities Masked Ball, which takes place in May of each year and in 2016 raised $770,000 in scholarship funds for students in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. In other states this is called the Mayor’s Masked Ball, and even with these large amounts raised, according to UNCF’s website the funds provide scholarships to only one out of 10 students who apply.

UNCF is clear on its brochure that African Americans continue to show among the lowest rates of college attendance “…due to high costs of college compared to lower African American income levels and to the fact that many African Americans are not given the education before college for success in college.” Students not only receive funding to pay for tuition but can also earn scholarships towards textbooks, housing and other college expenses.

The myth of UNCF, founded in 1944, is that it only provides scholarships to students attending HBCUs. Although it significantly supports students attending one of its 37 member HBCUs, UNCF provides its scholarships to any low-income students regardless of race or ethnicity. In 2017 at the MLK Legacy Scholarship dinner, six students received funds to attend their college of choice.

One recipient, Shamarr McKinney-VanBuren, knew she wanted to stay close to home for college as the first in her family to attend. McKinney-VanBuren applied to three other in-state colleges and chose Augsburg College in Minneapolis to study computer science.

Born and raised in the Twin Cities, McKinney-VanBuren said, “This is a brand new journey for me and my family. As a first-generation college student, I was looking for ways to pay for college and came across UNCF online.”

The Gates Millennium Scholars Programs, one of UNCF’s largest funders, supports all students of color attending any college in the United States. Another myth about UNCF, due to lack of graduate-level programs at its 37 HBCUs, is that scholarships aren’t given out towards master’s and doctoral programs. Koch Scholars started in 2014 at UNCF with a $25 million dollar grant from Koch Industries, Inc.

UNCF has a national program called the Empower Me Tour that kicks off yearly in September coinciding with the school year; the Minneapolis Empower Me Tour is held at the Minneapolis Convention Center. In 2016 Caine Knuckles, a graduate of Southwest High School, left the Convention Center with a $50,000 scholarship to Philander Smith College and is now in his freshman year after being accepted at three HBCU, according to Southwest Journal.

Many students who attend this event across the nation get accepted to HBCUs on the spot, having done work prior to the event through their public high schools in making sure they are armed with their résumés and academic transcripts.

UNCF provides a host of scholarship funds for students of color who want to attend a college in the United States at any level of their academic career.

Visit www.uncf.org to scroll through all scholarships and requirements. For more information, visit Health Fair 11’s website at www.healthfair11.org. This story is made possible by a grant from the Medtronic Foundation.

Jonika Stowes welcomes reader responses to jstowes@spokesman-recordergmail.com.

Inside the ESSA Plans: What Are States Doing About Goals and Timelines?

Inside the ESSA Plans: What Are States Doing About Goals and Timelines?

By Stephen Sawchuk, Alyson Klein, and Andrew UjifusaEducation Week logo

EDUCATION WEEK — This week, Education Week is bringing its trademark analysis to the remaining state plans for fulfilling requirements of the Every Student Succeeds law. On Monday, we had a look at the states’ proposed “school quality” indicators, €”the required but nonacademic portion of each state’s plan to judge schools. Today, we’re going to take a look at states’ goals for raising student achievement and their timelines for doing so in the plans awaiting federal approval.

One thing we’ll keep stressing again and again this week: how far federal policy has moved since the days of the No Child Left Behind Act (ESSA’s predecessor). Read on.

So, what kinds of goals are states setting?

Some states chose fixed goals that aim for all students, and all subgroups of vulnerable students, such as those qualifying for subsidized school lunches or English-language learners, to reach the same target (such as 80 percent proficiency). What’s nice about this kind of goal is that it sets the same endpoint, making it easier to see over time how achievement gaps are expected to close. States in this category include: Arkansas, Hawaii, Kansas, Mississippi, (grades 3-8 only), Ohio, Minnesota, New York, Rhode island, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Read the full article here: May require an Education Week subscription.

Source: Education Week Politics K-12

Betsy DeVos’ Team Asks Seven States for More ESSA Specifics

Betsy DeVos’ Team Asks Seven States for More ESSA Specifics

Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming are the latest states to receive feedback on their plans for implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

The U.S. Department of Education staffers seem to be burning the midnight oil on feedback letters lately. Four other states—Georgia, Maryland, Puerto Rico, and Utah—got responses last week. Every state has submitted a plan to implement ESSA. And 16 states and the District of Columbia have had their plans approved.

So what do the latest letters say? They are extensive and almost all of them ask for a lot more detail on testing, school turnarounds, accountability, goals, teacher distribution, and more.

Here’s a quick look at some highlights.  Click on the state name to read the full letter.

Alabama: The department wants to state to make its student achievement goals clearer, and better explain how student growth on state tests would be used to calculate a school’s academic score. And the feds aren’t clear on how Alabama will calculate English-language proficiency and incorporate it into school ratings—an ESSA must. The state also needs to make it clear that it will flag schools that don’t get federal Title I money for extra supports with subgroups of students…

Read the full story here: May require an Education Week subscription.

Want more analysis of ESSA plans? Edweek has you covered here.

Betsy DeVos: Stop ‘Forcing’ Four-Year Degrees as Only Pathway to Success

Betsy DeVos: Stop ‘Forcing’ Four-Year Degrees as Only Pathway to Success

Washington — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos told a meeting Monday that the country needs to quit trying to push every student to attend a four-year college, and open up apprenticeships and other workplace learning experiences to more students.

“We need to stop forcing kids into believing a traditional four-year degree is the only pathway to success,” DeVos said at the first meeting of the White House Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion. “We need to expand our thinking on what apprenticeships actually look like … we need to start treating students as individuals … not boxing them in.”

The panel, which was created through an executive order signed by President Donald Trump earlier this year, is chaired by Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. DeVos and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross serve as vice-chairs. Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter and a White House adviser, was also on-hand…

Read the full article here. May require an Education Week subscription.



REPORT: State Legislatures Opting in to Opting Out

REPORT: State Legislatures Opting in to Opting Out

By: Michelle Croft and Richard Lee
ACT Research and Policy

Despite (or because of) the federal requirement that all students in certain grades participate in statewide achievement testing, stories of parents opting their student out of the testing gained national attention in the media in the spring of 2015. Ultimately, twelve states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin—received a notice from the U.S. Department of Education that they needed to create a plan to reduce opt-outs due to low participation rates.

When statewide testing came in spring 2016, there were more stories of opt-outs, and information about districts failing to meet participation requirements will follow in the coming months.3 Early reports from New York indicate that 21% of students in grades 3–8 opted out in 2016, which was slightly more than the prior year. (See attached PDF below for reference information.)

Participation Rate Requirements

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (both the No Child Left Behind and the Every Student Succeeds authorizations) requires that all students annually participate in statewide achievement testing in mathematics and English in grades 3–8 and high school as well as science in certain grade spans. Ninety-five percent of students at the state, district, and school level must participate; otherwise there is a range of consequences.

Under the No Child Left Behind authorization, the school would automatically fail to meet Adequate Yearly Progress if the school—or subgroups of students within the school—did not meet the participation rate requirement. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides states with greater flexibility to determine how to incorporate the participation rate into the state’s accountability system. However, in proposed regulations, the state will need to take certain actions such as lowering the school’s rating in the state’s accountability system or identifying the school for targeted support or improvement, if all students or one or more student subgroups do not meet the 95% participation rate.

Michelle Croft is a principal research associate in Public Affairs at ACT. Richard Lee is a senior analyst in Public Affairs at ACT.

Email research.policy@act.org for more information. © 2016 by ACT, Inc. All rights reserved. MS489


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REPORT: State Pre-K Funding for 2015-16 Fiscal Year: National Trends in State Preschool Funding. 50-State Review

REPORT: State Pre-K Funding for 2015-16 Fiscal Year: National Trends in State Preschool Funding. 50-State Review

Emily Parker, Bruce Atchison and Emily Workman
Education Commission of the States

This report highlights significant investments made by both Republican and Democratic policymakers in state-funded pre-k programs for the fourth year in a row. In the 2015-16 budget year, 32 states and the District of Columbia raised funding levels of pre-k programs. This increased support for preschool funding came from both sides of the aisle–22 states with Republican governors and 10 states with Democratic governors, plus the District of Columbia.

In contrast, only five states with Republican governors and three states with Democratic governors decreased their pre-k funding.

Overall, state funding of pre-k programs across the 50 states and the District of Columbia increased by nearly $755 million, or 12 percent over 2014-15. While this progress is promising, there is still work to be done to set children on the path to academic success early in life. Still, less than half of preschool-aged students have access to pre-k programs.

Increasing the number of students in high-quality preschool programs is broadly viewed as a way to set young learners on a path to a secure economic future and stable workforce. This report includes several state examples and an overview of the pre-k programs they have in place. Data tables on total state pre-K funding and state pre-kindergarten funding by program are appended. [Megan Carolan contributed to this publication.]

Download (PDF, 1.13MB)

Education Commission of the States. ECS Distribution Center, 700 Broadway Suite 1200, Denver, CO 80203-3460. Tel: 303-299-3692; Fax: 303-296-8332; e-mail: ecs@ecs.org; Web site: http://www.ecs.org

STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESSES: Early College High School Programs and Apprenticeships Take Center Stage

STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESSES: Early College High School Programs and Apprenticeships Take Center Stage

Early college high school, apprenticeships, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education take center stage as governors continue to give state of the state addresses.

South Dakota: Gov. Dennis Daugaard Dives into Dual Credit and Remediation

During his January 10 state of the state address, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) praised the state’s dual credit program, calling it a win-win-win. “Students win because these are the cheapest college credits they will ever buy, and they get a head start on college or tech school. High schools win because they can expand their course offerings at no cost to the school district. Universities and technical institutes win, because they attract students who are better-prepared when they come to campus.”

Daugaard had numbers to back up the program’s success, sharing that, in the past school year:

  • 2,139 high school students took at least one dual credit course from a university, and another 899 took a technical institute course.
  • The passage rates were 94 percent for university courses and 88 percent for technical institute courses.
  • High school students and their families saved a total of $4.4 million.

Daugaard also touched on the issue of remediation, noting that last year 30 percent of first-year, full-time freshman at state universities took at least one remedial course in math or English. He discussed a free program to help test students who may need remediation in high school to avoid the costs and difficulty of remedial courses in college.

He gave a nod to the strengthening of career and technical education programs across the state through workforce education grants awarded by the Building South Dakota Fund.


Hawaii: Gov. David Ige Calls for School Transformation and Increased Early College Access

Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) talked about school transformation during January 23 state of the state address, expressing his desire to have a system that gives more flexibility to schools so that those closest to the students, who “best understand how they learn and what motivates them” are the ones designing programs and implementing plans. He also mentioned a new Innovation Grant Program to help support school-level innovations that work to close achievement gaps for students with disabilities, students from low-income families, and immigrant students.

Ige also proposed to expand the state’s Early College Program, to allow more students to begin earning college credits in high school. To make his case, Ige noted that studies say this may be “one of the most powerful tools to advance college enrollment and success among our public high school graduates—especially for lower-income and first-generation college students.”


Rhode Island: Gov. Gina Raimondo Expands Early College Options

Rhode Island is working to give its people a “real shot in the economy of the future,” said Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) in her January 17 state of the state address. For Raimondo, that means expanding early college options. She noted that in 2016 nearly 4,000 students took college courses while still in high school, some earning enough credits to have a full college semester completed before graduating from high school.

Raimondo also discussed the state’s push to have more individuals with a degree or credential beyond high school, which currently is less than half of Rhode Islanders. To reach a goal of 70 percent of Rhode Island adults with degrees or certificates by 2025, Raimondo noted that the state is working to make college more affordable and accessible, and will continue to invest in training and certificate programs.


Alaska: Gov. Bill Walker Shares Top Five Priorities for Education

In his January 18 state of the state address Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) shared five top priorities for the state’s public education system. Put together by the State Board of Education after a public outreach process, the priorities include.

  1. Improving student learning
  2. Ensuring excellent educators
  3. Modernizing the system
  4. Inspiring tribal and community ownership
  5. Promoting safety and well-being.

Walker noted that final recommendations in these areas would be shared with his office at the end of 2017 and that legislative efforts for reform would begin.


Michigan: Gov. Rick Snyder Makes the Case for Apprenticeships and STEM Education

In his January 17 state of the state address, Michigan: Gov. Rick Snyder (R) emphasized the importance of not treating education, the economy, and careers as silos, but instead to create the connection between school and career while inspiring lifelong learning. As the economy changes and jobs fluctuate, Snyder expressed the need to have the flexibility to respond accordingly in education. One method Snyder mentioned is apprenticeships, sharing the state’s growth as a leader in this area, with a 14 percent increase in registered apprenticeships over 2016. He talked about the need for even more growth and his intention to work with the state legislature and private sector partners to make this happen.

Snyder also hits on the hot topic of STEM education, and the need to expand access to STEM courses in Michigan schools as more STEM-related jobs require computer coding and computer science knowledge.


Other Education Highlights

Graduation rates receive a mention in Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R)’s January 17 state of the state address, as Bryant acknowledges both the state’s all-time-high 80 percent graduation rate and gains on reading and math tests.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) called for one million dollar annual increases in K-12 STEM education and in the federal E-rate program during his January 17 state of the state address. Holcomb noted that more than half of Indiana’s schools do not have wi-fi in the classroom, and that this increased funding will enable more schools to participate in the E-rate and improve digital connectivity in schools.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) mentioned efforts to expand apprenticeship programs for high school students to strengthen career pathways in his January 25 state of the state address, an initiative of the Governor’s Cabinet on Children and Youth alongside the Illinois State Board of Education, high schools, community colleges, and employers.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (R) noted the state’s all-time high graduation rate of 86 percent in his January 24 state of the state address.