Archives for February 2014
By: Darlene Superville, AP
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two days before attention shifts to the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, the White House is trying to create a little buzz for America’s future filmmakers.
At a film festival Friday afternoon, President Barack Obama will recognize the best of nearly 2,500 films — 16 to be exact — that were submitted by K-12 students after the White House put out the call for short videos on the role technology plays in their education. It’s one of the president’s favorite subjects.
Obama recently set a goal of wiring virtually every classroom with high-speed Internet by sometime in 2018.
Last month, he announced $750 million in commitments from U.S. companies to help move the project along, including $100 million in iPads, computers and other tools from Apple, $100 million in cash and in-kind contributions from Verizon, and discounted Windows software from Microsoft.
The Federal Communications Commission also pledged $2 billion to connect 20 million students in 15,000 schools over the next two years.
At the White House on Friday, Obama was announcing an additional $400 million in private-sector pledges for the ConnectEd initiative, bringing to more than $1 billion the total value of cash and goods committed to the project. Adobe is donating $300 million worth of its software products to teachers and students. The Hungarian software company Prezi is providing $100 million worth of its products.
“In a country where we expect free Wi-Fi with our coffee, we should definitely demand it in our schools,” Obama said last month at a Maryland school where students are assigned iPads for use in class and at home. He even borrowed a student’s tablet to make a short film of his own.
Obama says the average school has the same Internet speed as the average home but serves 200 times as many people. He laments that just 30 percent of U.S. students have true high-speed Internet in their classrooms, compared with 100 percent of South Korean students.
Friday’s festival was dreamed up as a way to showcase the many ways students use technology and the president’s proposal.
The videos could be no longer than 3 minutes. Each was viewed multiple times by an “academy” of judges that was made up of White House officials and others.
The 16 films chosen as finalists — no winners will be declared — will be screened in the East Room in collaboration with the American Film Institute. They are separated into four categories: Young Visionaries, Future Innovators, World of Tomorrow and Building Bridges, and will be presented by actor Kal Penn, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye the Science Guy and AFI President and CEO Bob Gazzale. Late-night comedian Conan O’Brien will address the gathering by video.
The young filmmakers range in age from first-graders to 17-year-old high school students and come from 12 states and the District of Columbia.
A group of first-grade friends from Silver Spring, Md., collaborated on “Technology and Me,” in which they offer their take on the past, present and future of classroom technology. One boy declares chalkboards “old school” while a girl explains that “now there are computers and it’s more easier.” Another girl predicts a future classroom with robots.
In the film, “Alex,” 11th-grader Mitch Buangsuwon of California entered a video about his brother, Alex, who suffers from dyslexia and dysgraphia, which affect his reading and writing skills. Alex talks about feeling left behind because he didn’t read as well as the other kids. But after switching to a new school, where he was given a tablet for research and writing, the seventh-grader says his reading went from a third-grade level to a sixth-grade level in a year.
“Not feeling left behind feels really nice,” Alex says. “My school is a good example of how everybody can benefit from technology because everybody learns differently.”
No thank-you speeches will be given. No gold-toned statuettes will be handed out. The budding filmmakers instead will head out knowing that they helped highlight an Obama policy goal.
“It’s a celebration of the way they’re already using technology and the importance of the president’s initiative for increasing that over time,” said Nate Lubin, acting director of the White House Office of Digital Strategy.
Beyond that, the finalists will also be given an exclusive look at the first episode of “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” a new TV series by Fox and the National Geographic Channel on the importance of science, technology, engineering and math that is set to premiere on March 9.
Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap
From Thursday, February 27, 2014.
By: April Ryan | AURN
The packed East Room of the White House seemed to be transformed into a black church for a portion of the afternoon with the Amens and retorts of affirmations of the President’s remarks about the nation’s at risk males of color. President Obama said it is a “moral” and “economic” issue for this nation.
In the audience were the parents of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, two of some of the highly publicized killings of black teens in recent years.
Also attending the event, stakeholders who have their own programs focusing on at risk youth, like Judge Greg Mathis, Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, and General Colin Powell. Congressional leaders, Senator Corey Booker and members of the Congressional Black Caucus also attended the event along with civil rights leaders and religious leaders.
The President says this is not a one year or a two year proposition. This is going to take some time.
General Colin Powell says of the President’s My Brothers Keeper initiative – LISTEN:
Businessman Magic Johnson spoke with the at-risk males at the event. He revealed he was one of them, raised in poverty but explained education is a key to mirror his success as a businessman. Watch:
Johnson met later with a group of at-risk youth after the East Room event. Some of those youth took time to speak to the press.
Meanwhile, Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro is hopeful Congressional efforts will eventually accompany private support funds for My Brothers Keeper.
More news and information at AURN.com.
By: April Ryan, aprildyran.com | AURN
On the heels of the second anniversary of the Trayvon Martin Shooting death, The President is announcing a two-pronged partnership with foundations and the private sector aimed at helping at risk black youth. The My Brothers Keeper project focuses on early childhood development, parental engagement, literacy, ladders to opportunity, literacy and the criminal justice reform.
The White House says the foundations supporting the My Brothers Keeper project will work over the next 90 days to design a strategy and infrastructure for coordination of these investments, which can be aligned with additional commitments from an array of people from other sectors.
President Obama will sign a memorandum on internal research on what works and what does not work. That effort will be implemented with the creation of an Administration-wide “What Works” online portal to that promotes successful programs that improves the outcomes of boys and young men of color.
The foundations supporting My Brothers Keeper have already made investments, including $150 million in current spending and plan to invest at least $200 million over the next five years.
During the first term of the Obama administration, there was an initiative focused on women and girls headed by Valerie Jarrett. Now My Brothers Keeper joins that effort. LISTEN:
Here is the White House Fact Sheet with more information:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
February 27, 2014
FACT SHEET: Opportunity for all: President Obama Launches My Brother’s Keeper Initiative to Build Ladders of Opportunity for Boys and Young Men of Color
“I’m reaching out to some of America’s leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing especially tough odds to stay on track and reach their full potential.”
– President Barack Obama, January 28, 2014
“There are a lot of kids out there who need help, who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?”
– President Barack Obama, January 28, 2014
President Obama is taking action to launch My Brother’s Keeper – a new initiative to help every boy and young man of color who is willing to do the hard work to get ahead. For decades, opportunity has lagged behind 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. The President wants to build on that work. We can learn from communities that are partnering with local businesses and foundations to connect these boys and young men to mentoring, support networks, and skills they need to find a good job or go to college and work their way up into the middle class. And the Administration will do its part by helping to identify and promote programs that work.
That starts by using proven tools that expand opportunity at key moments in the lives of these young people. The President believes this includes ensuring access to basic health, nutrition, and to high-quality early education to get these kids reading and ready for school at the youngest age. But that’s not enough. We need to partner with communities and police to reduce violence and make our classrooms and streets safer. And we need to help these young men stay in school and find a good job– so they have the opportunity to reach their full potential, contribute to their communities and build decent lives for themselves and their families.
New Presidential Task Force to Expand Opportunity. President Obama will sign a Presidential Memorandum establishing the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, an interagency effort, chaired by the Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, that will help us determine what public and private efforts are working and how to expand upon them, how the Federal Government’s own policies and programs can better support these efforts, and how to better involve State and local officials, the private sector, and the philanthropic community in these efforts.
The Task Force will work across executive departments and agencies to:
- Assess the impact of Federal policies, regulations, and programs of general applicability on boys and young men of color, so as to develop proposals that will enhance positive outcomes and eliminate or reduce negative ones.
- Recommend, where appropriate, incentives for the broad adoption by national, State, and local public and private decision makers of effective and innovative strategies and practices for providing opportunities to and improving outcomes for boys and young men of color.
- Create an Administration-wide “What Works” online portal to disseminate successful programs and practices that improve outcomes for boys and young men of color.
- Develop a comprehensive public website, to be maintained by the Department of Education, that will assess, on an ongoing basis, critical indicators of life outcomes for boys and young men of color in absolute and relative terms.
- Work with external stakeholders to highlight the opportunities, challenges, and efforts affecting boys and young men of color.
- Recommend to the President means of ensuring sustained efforts within the Federal Government and continued partnership with the private sector and philanthropic community as set forth in the Presidential Memorandum.
Investments from Leading Foundations and Businesses to Advance the Achievement of Boys and Young Men of Color. Leading foundations and businesses have long worked with others in philanthropy to create opportunities for young men and boys of color and today are committing significant resources to research critical intervention points in the lives of boys and young men of color; change the often-damaging narrative about them; and catalyze coordinated investments to seed, replicate, and scale up effective community solutions.
The foundations supporting today’s call to action have already made extensive investments, including $150 million in current spending that they have already approved or awarded. Building on that, today these foundations are announcing that over the next five years they seek to invest at least $200 million, alongside additional investments from their peers in philanthropy and the business community, to find and rapidly spread solutions that have the highest potential for impact in key areas, including: early child development and school readiness, parenting and parent engagement, 3rd grade literacy, educational opportunity and school discipline reform, interactions with the criminal justice system ladders to jobs and economic opportunity and healthy families and communities.
The foundations will work over the next 90 days to design a strategy and infrastructure for coordination of these investments, which can be aligned with additional commitments from a diverse array of actors from other sectors.
These foundations, who are joining President Obama at today’s announcement, include the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The California Endowment, The Ford Foundation, The John and James L. Knight Foundation, The Open Society Foundations, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and The Kapor Center for Social Impact. Many of the foundations are members of the Executives’ Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color – a coalition of philanthropic institutions committed to leveraging philanthropy’s role in improving life outcomes for boys and men of color.
In addition to the leadership from the philanthropic community, the My Brother’s Keeper initiative will leverage participation from the business community and elected officials to support this cross-sector effort. As part of today’s announcement, President Obama will meet with a number of business leaders – including Joe Echevarria from Deloitte, Magic Johnson from Magic Johnson Enterprises, Glenn Hutchins of Silver Lake Partners, Adam Silver of the National Basketball Association and Thomas Tull of Legendary Entertainment – to discuss ways in which they and their companies can work with the Initiative to improve the life outcomes of boys and young men of color.
The President will also be joined today by public sector leaders including General Colin Powell, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Honorable Michael Bloomberg. Additionally, several other prominent members of the business community—including Rosalind Brewer of Sam’s Club, Ken Chenault of American Express, and Don Thompson of McDonald’s—have already expressed their support for this effort, and the White House expects additional commitments in the coming days and months.
* * *
Data shows that boys and young men of color, regardless of socio-economic background, are disproportionately at risk throughout the journey from their youngest years to college and career. For instance, large disparities remain in reading proficiency, with 86 percent of black boys and 82 percent of Hispanic boys reading below proficiency levels by the fourth grade – compared to 58 percent of white boys reading below proficiency levels. Additionally, the disproportionate number of black and Hispanic young men who are unemployed or involved in the criminal justice system alone is a perilous drag on state budgets, and undermines family and community stability. These young men are more than six times as likely to be victims of murder than their white peers and account for almost half of the country’s murder victims each year.
The effort launched today is focused on unlocking the full potential of boys and young men of color – something that will not only benefit them, but all Americans. The Task Force and new private sector partnership will take a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach to building ladders of opportunity. Both the Task Force and the partnership will take action immediately while planning for long-term success.