First Lady Michelle Obama will spend Monday in Atlanta

According to travel guidance provided by the White House, Obama’s day begins with an event with Education Secretary Arne Duncan at Booker T. Washington High School — where Martin Luther King Jr. attended before leaving early for Morehouse College. Obama will tour a college fair and then give a speech in the school gymnasium that promotes her “Reach Higher” initiative, pushing students to complete post-secondary education.

For more information:

http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2014/09/03/michelle-obama-to-rally-raise-money-for-michelle-nunn/

FACT SHEET: President Obama Applauds New Commitments in Support of the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 21, 2014

FACT SHEET: President Obama Applauds New Commitments in Support of the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative

“That’s what ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ is all about. Helping more of our young people stay on track. Providing the support they need to think more broadly about their future. Building on what works – when it works, in those critical life-changing moments.”

- President Barack Obama, February 27, 2014

In February, as part of his plan to make 2014 a year of action focused on expanding opportunity for all Americans, the President unveiled the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.  As part of the initiative’s launch, the President also established the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force to review public and private sector programs, policies, and strategies and determine ways the Federal Government can better support these efforts, and how to better involve State and local officials, the private sector, and the philanthropic community.

Today, the President will announce new commitments in support of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative at the Walker Jones Education Center in Washington, DC.  Following the announcement, the President will hold a town hall session where he will take questions from the group of DC-area youth who will attend the event. During the session, the President will highlight how the My Brother’s Keeper initiative and the Administration continue to work to build ladders of opportunity for all young people across the country.  In attendance at the event will be leaders from 60-plus school districts across the country with the Council of the Great City Schools, parents, business leaders, athletes, mayors and members of Congress.

Today, Magic Johnson Enterprises’ Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Deloitte CEO Joe Echevarria launched the National Convening Council (“NCC”), an independent private sector initiative bringing together leaders from business, philanthropy and the faith, youth and nonprofit communities.  Over the next several months, the NCC will travel the country, lifting up examples of cross-sector efforts that are having a positive impact on boys and young men of color.

Creating Opportunity for All

For decades, opportunity has lagged for boys and young men of color. But across the country, communities are adopting approaches to help put these boys and young men on the path to success.  And the President, joined by foundations, businesses, and many other leaders, wants to build on that success to ensure that all young people, including boys and young men of color, who are willing to work hard have an opportunity to get ahead and reach their full potential.

The My Brother’s Keeper initiative encourages the use of proven tools that expand opportunity for young people, including access to basic health, nutrition, mentorship, high-quality early education and early introductions into the workforce, as well as partnering with communities and police to reduce violence and make our classrooms and streets safer.

On May 30th, the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force released its 90-day report.  This report includes key indicators that will provide a comprehensive view of the environments and outcomes for boys and young men of color and their peers.  It also contains recommendations on steps our society can take to begin to expand opportunity for all in areas including:

o   Entering school ready to learn;

o   Reading at grade level by third grade;

o   Graduating from high school ready for college and career;

o   Completing post-secondary education or training;

o   Entering the workforce; and

o   Reducing violence and providing a second chance.

The Administration is doing its part by identifying programs and policies that work, and recommending action that will help all our young people succeed.  Since the launch of My Brother’s Keeper, the President’s Task Force has met with and heard from thousands of Americans, through online and in-person listening sessions, who are already taking action.

New Commitments

Today, leading private sector organizations announced independent commitments that further the goals of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative and directly address some of the key recommendations in the Task Force Report.

Reducing High School Dropout Rates, Improving the Worst Performing Schools and Actively Recruiting High Quality and Sustained Mentors:

  • The NBA, the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) announced a five-year commitment in partnership with MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, Team Turnaround and the Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS).

o   Through the partnership, these organizations will support a public service announcement campaign designed to recruit 25,000 new mentors, with a specific emphasis on recruiting men of color.

o   The NBA and its teams will work with educators in at-risk schools across many of their franchise cities to provide incentive programs that increase attendance and improve overall school performance.  Current and former NBA players will also participate in a series of grassroots, “lessons in leadership and teamwork” workshops in schools and after-school organizations that will inspire boys and young men of color to take charge of their lives, make good decisions, and be successful in their pursuit of education.

  • AT&T announced an $18 million commitment this year to support mentoring and other education programs with a mentoring component as part of the company’s Aspire initiative – a $350 million commitment focused on high school success and workforce readiness for students at risk of dropping out of school.

o   AT&T is launching the Aspire Mentoring Academy Corps, powered by AmeriCorps, AT&T and MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership to support AmeriCorps members in regions around the country and engage thousands of at-risk youth in mentoring activities.

o   AT&T will expand the engagement of its employees through the Aspire Mentoring Academy with a goal to provide students who are at risk of dropping out of high school with 1 million hours of mentoring by the end of 2016.

o   AT&T is using technology to scale its efforts through online mentoring, developing a mentoring app and piloting a program that mentors students through the CISCO IT certification process, thus developing critical Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills.

Creating High Schools for the New Economy

  • With a commitment of $50 million, the Emerson Collective, founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, along with partners from Silicon Valley and elsewhere, will collaborate with districts and educators to launch a competition to find and develop the best designs for next generation high schools. 

o   Efforts will include connecting some of Silicon Valley’s best innovators and design thinkers with some of the country’s most effective and inventive educators and students to create schools for the new economy and provide models that can be adopted by other schools in the future.

o   This school redesign initiative aims to use the best in design thinking, education research and practice and technology to create new school environments to dramatically increase the engagement and success of currently underserved students enabling them to achieve and compete at the highest levels and provide the supports, tools and resources educators need to be and feel engaged, effective and supported.

Encouraging and Supporting Comprehensive Cradle-to-College-and-Career Community Solutions for Youth:

  • Today, the leaders of 60 of the largest school systems in the country, which collectively educate nearly three million of America’s male students of color, have joined in an unprecedented pledge to change life outcomes of boys and young men of color by better serving these students at every stage of their education. 

o   Through an eleven-point plan that stretches from early childhood to graduation, these school districts will better support boys and young men of color by focusing on strategies with proven results.  These include expanding access to high quality preschool, implementing or scaling early warning systems to prevent grade retention, establishing programs to reduce suspensions and expulsions, increasing access to advanced and rigorous coursework and ensuring increased FAFSA completion.

Expanding Access to Advanced Placement (AP) Courses and Rigorous College Prep:

  • The College Board is investing over $1.5 million for “All In”, a national College Board program to ensure that 100% of African American, Latino, and Native American students with strong AP potential enroll in at least one matched AP class before graduation.

o   As part of their “All In” commitment, the College Board is partnering with all 60 school superintendents who have signed on to the CGCS pledge to identify and reach out to young men of color who have demonstrated the potential to succeed in AP classes.

Creating Entry-Level Job, Mentorship and Apprenticeship Opportunities for Youth:

  • Citi Foundation is making a three year, $10 million commitment to create ServiceWorks, a groundbreaking, national program that uses volunteer services to help 25,000 young people in ten cities across the United States develop the skills they need to prepare for college and careers.

o   The program, which will deploy 225 AmeriCorps members over three years, will engage youth, age 16-24, in service and build a large-scale volunteer response to the crisis of low college and career attainment.  The young people – in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Newark, San Francisco, St. Louis and Washington, D.C. – will receive training in critical 21st century leadership and workplace skills, the chance to build their networks and connections to their communities, and the opportunity to use their new skills by participating in and leading volunteer service projects.

o   Thousands of professionals – including Citi employees – will participate as volunteer mentors and trainers.

Disproving the Negative Narrative:

  • Discovery Communications will invest more than $1 million to create an original independent special programming event to educate the public about issues related to boys and men of color and address negative public perceptions of them.

o   The program will show specific youth stories and the interventions that made a difference in their lives as an illustration of ways to impact the future of boys and men of color.  This 1-hour program will air across Discovery networks and is scheduled to air in 2015.

o   Discovery Education will also host a series of screenings and town halls in partnership with community based non-profits to discuss “My Brother’s Keeper” stories of intervention and ways that communities can get involved and help address this important issue facing our Nation.

Building on Successful Evidence Based Programs that Recruit High Quality and Sustained Mentors:

  • Becoming A Man (B.A.M.) and Match tutoring programs announced $10 million in new funding.

o   The funding will support the expansion of B.A.M. and Match tutoring programs, in addition to supporting a large-scale study on the programs’ long-term effects conducted by the University of Chicago Crime Lab and Urban Education Lab. B.A.M. is a mentoring and cognitive behavioral therapy program developed by the nonprofit organization Youth Guidance. Match is an intensive, individualized math tutoring intervention developed by Match Education.

o   The commitment is made possible by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Public Schools.

o   With this announcement, B.A.M. and Match are also committing to expand to 3-5 new cities over the next three years.

MBK Task Force Commitments

Through the MBK Task Force, a federal interagency working group created by Presidential Memorandum, the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Agriculture (USDA), along with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) announced today two new youth corps programs to expand opportunities for youth.  Both programs directly address recommendations in the Task Force Report.  The programs are intended to help young people successfully enter the workforce as well as create additional job opportunities and increase entry-level job, mentorship and apprenticeship options for all young people, including boys and young men of color.

Supporting Disconnected Youth Through Service and Engagement:

  • CNCS and the DOJ’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) today announced a jointly funded AmeriCorps program called Youth Opportunity AmeriCorps. 

o   The program, which totals up to $10 million over three years, will enroll disconnected youth in national service programs as AmeriCorps members over the next 3 years.  It includes a mentorship component, in which grantees will provide mentoring support to the AmeriCorps members.

Providing Opportunities that Build Early Career Skills: 

  • USDA and AmeriCorps today announced a landmark new partnership between AmeriCorps and the USDA’s Forest Service, which connects youth with service opportunities to restore the nation’s forests and grasslands.

o   The $3.8 million joint funding will provide resources for both AmeriCorps grantees and member organizations of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC), and will also provide for 300 new AmeriCorps members serving in U.S. Forests.

Previous Private Sector Commitments

  • In June 2014, eleven of the nation’s leading philanthropies announced a $194 million investment in initiatives to expand opportunity for boys and young men of color.
  • In June 2014, UBS America announced a five-year, $10 million commitment to establish a new education platform for improving college success among under-resourced populations. Commencing in three markets — New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — with an intensive program focused on young men of color, UBS NextGen Leaders aims to empower students with the skills, knowledge and experience needed to succeed in college and compete in the global marketplace.
  • In June 2014, JPMorgan Chase & Co. launched the expansion of “The Fellowship Initiative: Expanding the Horizons of Young Men of Color,” to provide boys and young men of color with long-term fellowships and pathways to jobs. The program involves a $10 million commitment to expand the effort to three cities serving nearly 200 youth.

PRESS RELEASE: Chinese Government signs MOU with Historically Black Colleges & Universities in Beijing Today

Chinese Government signs Memorandum of Understanding with Historically Black Colleges & Universities in Beijing Today

HBCUs and Chinese universities meet to discuss implementation of 1,000 scholarships for HBCU students to study in China

(BEIJING) – A delegation of presidents and senior administrators from eight American Historically Black Colleges & Universities signed an MOU today with the China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE), China’s nationwide nonprofit organization conducting international educational exchanges and cooperation on behalf of the Ministry of Education.

The delegation also participated in the HBCUs-Chinese Universities Roundtable where they engaged in dialogue with their Chinese university counterparts to discuss mutually agreed upon processes for implementing the 1,000-scholarship award initiative.

“We’re delighted to be a part of this historic moment in progressive global student exchange and study. This collaboration between the Chinese government and HBCUs provides an excellent opportunity to enable our students to become competent in Chinese history and culture, and will significantly enhance their abilities to be successful global leaders throughout the world,” said Dr. David Wilson, president of Morgan State University and the delegation’s leader. Dr. Wilson signed the MOU on behalf of the delegation.

The MOU formally acknowledges the 1,000 scholarships for HBCU students announced by Vice Premier Liu Yandong at a November 2013 Capitol Hill meeting in Washington, D.C. between leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus and HBCU presidents from Howard University, Morgan State University, Tougaloo College and Xavier University of Louisiana.

The HBCUs meetings in Beijing this week are parallel to the 5th U.S.-China Consultation on People to People Exchange (CPE) being held in Beijing from July 9-11, 2014. The CPE is co-hosted by U.S. Sec. Of State John Kerry and China’s Vice Premier Madam Liu Yandong, China’s highest-ranking government official overseeing education. The CPE is designed to enhance and strengthen ties between the citizens of the United States and the People’s Republic of China in the areas of culture, education, science and technology, sports, and women’s issues. On Wednesday, July 10, the HBCU delegation will attend the closing session of the CPE meetings with Sec. Kerry and Vice Premier Liu.

The HBCU trip to China is the culmination of the collective works of the Chinese government and the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation (CUSEF), a Hong Kong-based nonprofit organization that encourages and facilitates exchanges among public policy makers, civic leaders, think tanks, academia, and business organizations in the U.S. and China to enhance understanding and mutually beneficial relationships. CUSEF hosted and organized the first meeting of the HBCUs with Vice Premier Liu during the HBCU’s first visit to China in September 2013.

The other HBCU delegates to Beijing are: Dr. Beverly Hogan, president of Tougaloo College, Dr. John S. Wilson, Jr., president of Morehouse College; Dr. Pamela Hammond, provost of Hampton University; Dr. Weldon Jackson, provost of Bowie State University; Dr. Myra Burnett, vice provost of Spelman College; Dr. Barbara Inman, V.P. for Student Affairs, Hampton University; Dr. T. Joan Robinson, V.P. Division of International Affairs, Morgan State University; Dr. Anthony Wutoh, Assistant Provost for International Affairs, Howard University; Dr. Kathleen Kennedy, dean of the School of Pharmacy, Xavier University of Louisiana; Dr. Clarissa Myrick-Harris, dean of Humanities & Social Sciences, Morehouse College; Dr. Loye Ashton, director of International Studies, Tougaloo College; and Dr. Ruihua Shen, director of Chinese Studies, Morehouse College.

A key goal of the HBCU – Chinese University Collaboration is to encourage and increase international educational study opportunities for diverse students to study in China. The HBCU delegation’s visit from the U.S. side is managed and organized by Julia Wilson, CEO and founder of Wilson Global Communications, an international consultant to the HBCU pilot group, and the liaison representative for the China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF). In China, the CEAIE is managing logistics on behalf of the Ministry of Education.

FAMU Professor and Engineering Student Named Fulbright Scholars

FAMU Professor and Engineering Student Named Fulbright Scholars

Researchers will study Nigerian plants to find engineering, medical solutions

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida A&M University (FAMU) mechanical engineering doctoral candidate Renee Gordon and biochemistry professor Ngozi Ugochukwu, Ph.D., have been named Fulbright Scholars. The prestigious Fulbright Scholars Program is a highly competitive international education exchange program that awards grants to students, faculty or professionals who wish to study, teach and conduct research abroad. Both Gordon and Ugochukwu will conduct respective research on the indigenous resources of Nigeria.

ReneeGordon

Renee Gordon, Engineering Student Takes Green Ambitions to Nigeria
Gordon is the first student in the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering to receive the Fulbright grant. Her research will focus on using biomass, specifically Nigeria’s cassava leaves, as a green alternative to case hardening steel. She will reside at Nigeria’s Federal University of Technology (FUT) in Akure, which partners with FAMU in a mutual teaching and research exchange program.

According to Gordon, receiving the Fulbright grant brings her closer to fulfilling her desire to do something “forward thinking and innovative” with the indigenous resources of Nigeria. Her goal upon completing her Ph.D. is to work in green engineering with a focus on sustainable and alternative energy and to eventually return to FAMU as a professor to share her knowledge and experiences with others.

“It’s about using sustainable materials and resources that don’t take away from our fossil fuels and using materials that can be regenerated and regrown,” said Gordon about the focus of her research, which picks up where her mentor and research supervisor Peter Kalu, Ph.D. left off.

Kalu, a 3M Distinguished Research Professor in Mechanical Engineering at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and 2009-2010 Fulbright Scholar, also conducted research on how Nigeria’s cassava leaves could be used as an alternative method for hardening metal. His research was essential to the establishment of FAMU’s exchange program with FUT.

“We’re making headway there and she’s going to really take the research further,” said Kalu, expressing confidence in his protégé’s potential.

Gordon is a first generation American citizen by way of Jamaica, and first generation college graduate. She said receiving the Fulbright grant is a milestone in the progress of her research after having to overcome several obstacles in order to continue her work.

When Gordon and Kalu were invited to present their research at the Fifth International Conference on Structural Engineering, Mechanics and Computation in Cape Town, South Africa in 2013, the duo had planned to have research samples delivered to Nigeria to complete an important heat treatment process phase of the cassava project, however a lack of resources and funding limited them in getting the samples to their destination, until then-Interim President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., stepped in to help.

After receiving the funding they needed, Gordon and Kalu were able to journey to Nigeria for six days prior to their presentation in South Africa, complete the heat treatment and return stateside to continue the research.

“My mom has always instilled in me that I should go as far as I can with my education,” said

Gordon. “I’ve had a lot of hurdles and stumbling blocks, so it’s great for it to come full circle.”

NgoziUgochukwu

Ngozi Ugochukwu, Ph.D., Professor Journeys to Nigeria to Combat Diabetes
Ugochukwu will also complete her research in Nigeria at FUT in Minna. Her research will focus on ethnopharmacology, the study of ethnic groups and their use of drugs. She will also conduct research on bioactive compounds and their role as leads for drug discovery, and uses for traditional medicine in diabetes therapy.

Ugochukwu has been researching diabetes since her tenure began at FAMU in 1998. Her expertise includes the use of biochemical and gene technology techniques in deciphering the underlying mechanisms in the pathophysiology of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, congestive heart failure and colon cancer. Her research focus also includes finding effective preventive strategies and therapies for these diseases.

“Diabetes is considered by the World Health Organization and International Diabetes Foundation as one of the major threats to human health in the 21st century,” said Ugochukwu. “The Fulbright grant will give me the opportunity to collaborate with researchers at the FUT Minna Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology and the Global Institute for Bio-exploration to scientifically screen and identify anti-diabetic bioactive phytonutrients in indigenous Nigerian plants.”

According to Ugochukwu, this collaborative research could accelerate the discovery and development of new phytopharmaceuticals for diabetes therapy.

Her passion for diabetes research began while she was working on her Ph.D. in Nigeria. Her mission then was to find a fundamental human chronic disease that didn’t have a cure. Her research ultimately led her to diabetes.

“I have this inner quest to find some form of therapy for diabetes,” Ugochukwu said. “Especially because I have done research on the underlying root causes, which are oxidative stress and inflammation. So, discovering anything that will quell those things will be key.”

“I work with chronic diseases like hypertension, heart disease, congestive heart failure, colon cancer and the like, and underneath them all you see diabetes surfacing its ugly head,” she added.

In addition to her research, Ugochukwu will teach classes in biochemical pharmacology, clinical biochemistry and biochemistry laboratory including virtual proteomics exercises.

She attributes much of her success in research to the support of the FAMU research community, especially her students.

“I am elated about my selection as a Fulbright grantee,” Ugochukwu said. “It’s quite an honor to be recognized by this prestigious body. However, I must attribute this to the collaborative research work my graduate students and I have conducted on chronic diseases over the years at FAMU.”

Remarks by the First Lady in Commencement Address to Dillard University

REMARKS BY THE FIRST LADY

IN COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS TO DILLARD UNIVERSITY

UNO Lakefront Arena

New Orleans, Louisiana

 

10:33 A.M. CDT

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, my goodness!  Good morning!

 AUDIENCE:  Good morning.

 MRS. OBAMA:  I am so happy to be here with you all.  I’m proud to be here in the Big Easy.  Look at you all!  (Applause.) You look good. 

 STUDENT:  You do too! 

 MRS. OBAMA:  Thank you.  (Laughter.)  I want to start by thanking Nicole for that very kind introduction and for sharing her story, which is not too unfamiliar to me — because they told me I couldn’t be where I am, too.  So I want to thank Nicole.  I’m proud of her.  Thank you for the selfie; I think that’s the first selfie I’ve done at a commencement.  So, Nicole, you’re my first.  (Laughter.) 

And of course, I want to thank the Dillard University Choir.  Oh, oh, oh!  (Applause.)  Oh!  That’s all I can say.  It’s like you want to start something up in here, right?  (Laughter.)  It’s like, now we got a commencement going on up in here.  (Laughter.)  That was beautiful, beautiful.  Thank you so much.  

I also want to recognize Senator Mary Landrieu, who is here.  Let’s give her a hand.  (Applause.)  She has been a strong supporter of this university. 

I want to thank the Dillard University Board of Trustees.  I want to thank the faculty, the staff, and, of course, your tremendous president, Dr. Walter Kimbrough.  (Applause.)  Now, my husband has been called a few things over the years, but he has never had the honor of being referred to as the “Hip Hop President.”  (Applause.) 

I also want to thank all the folks from the University of New Orleans for hosting us here today.  And I know they’re hosting the folks at Southern University at New Orleans for their commencement later on today as well, so we wish them a wonderful day.  And thank you for having us.  (Applause.) 

And of course, I’ve got to give a big shout-out to all the family members in the crowd, all of the family members — (applause) — especially to the mothers, because it is the day before Mother’s Day.  To all the mothers, Happy Mother’s Day.  (Applause.) 

Now, graduates, you all handled your business, right?  Just because you were graduating didn’t mean you — come on, now.  (Laughter.)  Okay, well, if you didn’t, you have my permission to get up and go right now, because there is nothing more important — no, no, don’t get up.  (Laughter.)  Your mothers would kill you if you got up at this moment.  (Laughter.)  So just stay in your seats, and when this is all over make sure you take care of mom.

But in all seriousness, to all the moms out there –- as well as the dads and the grandparents, the uncles, the aunts, the brothers, the sisters, all of you who have helped raise these graduates — you have seen them through their ups and downs, and you have poured your hearts and souls into these men and women.  So today is your day, too, and you should be very proud.  You really should.  (Applause.) 

And finally, most of all, I want to congratulate the beautiful and handsome men and women of the Dillard University Class of 2014.  Yay!  (Applause.)  You all have come so far, I know, to make it to this day — from all those early days when the girls were sneaking out of Williams Hall to go see the boys over at the Duals — oh yeah, I did my research — (laughter) — to all those tests you crammed for, to the plans you’re making now for your careers, to go on to graduate school.   

You all have seen so much.  You’ve witnessed this school’s rebirth after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina –- the new buildings that replaced the ones you lost, the classrooms that started filling back up again, the service projects that you all have done to help this community bounce back.  And I know along the way that each of you has written your own story of resilience and determination to make it here to this day.

For example, as you heard, Nicole was told back in high school that she just wasn’t college material.  But now she is your class president, and she’s headed off to Yale for her graduate degree.  So there.  (Applause.)  That’s it. 

And I know that some of you may come from tough neighborhoods; some of you may have lost your homes during Katrina.  Maybe you’re like DeShawn Dabney, a graduate who was raised by his grandmother — (applause) — maybe — that’s your grandmother, isn’t it, DeShawn?  (Laughter.)  Raised by his grandmother while some of his family members were dealing with issues.  Maybe just like him, you’ve been working part-time jobs since you were a teenager to make your dream of going to college come true.  And now, today, you’re all here ready to walk across this stage and get that diploma.

And no matter what path you took to get here, you all kept your hearts set on this day.  You fought through every challenge you encountered, and you earned that degree from this fine university.  And in doing so, you are following in the footsteps of all those who came before you, and you have become an indelible part of the history of this school –- a history that, as you all know, stretches back to well before the Civil War, back to 1826, the year a child named Emperor Williams was born. 

Now, Emperor was born into slavery.  But as he grew up, he managed to teach himself to read and write well enough to create a pass that allowed him to come and go around the city without getting hassled.  But one day, his master saw the pass and he said, where did you learn to write like that?  Now, just imagine the fear Emperor must have felt when he heard that question — because remember, back then it was illegal for a slave to learn to read or write.  So who knows what kind of punishment he may have gotten –- a beating, a whipping, even worse. 

We don’t exactly know what happened on that day, but we do know that when Emperor turned 32, after more than three decades in bondage, he became a free man.  He decided to stay in New Orleans, and he went on to become a minister — even founded a church right here in town.  And in 1869, when abolitionists, missionaries, black folks and white folks came together to create a school for freed slaves here in New Orleans, Emperor was one of the original signers of the charter.  

They decided to name the school New Orleans University, because even though most of the classes would be taught at a high school level or below, oh, their aspirations were much higher than that.  And when they laid the cornerstone for that university’s first building down on St. Charles Avenue, Emperor got a chance to speak. 

He said — and these are his words — he said, “For twenty years I was a slave on these streets.  It was a penitentiary offense to educate a Negro.  I have seen my fellow-servants whipped for trying to learn; but today here I am [am I], speaking where a building is to be erected for the education of the children of my people.”  He goes on to say, “I wonder if this is the world I was born in.”

See, in the course of his short lifetime, Emperor saw education go from being a crime for black folks to being a real possibility for his kids and grandkids.  So no wonder he was asking whether this was the same world he’d been born into.  See, for a man like Emperor, getting an education could open up a whole new world of opportunity.  An education meant having real power.  It meant you could manage your own money.  It meant you couldn’t get swindled out of land or possessions when somebody told you to just sign on the dotted line; sometimes even determined whether or not you could vote. 

So most folks back then saw education as the key to real and lasting freedom.  That’s why, when New Orleans University and the other African American college in town, Straight University, first opened their doors, one of the biggest problems they faced was too many students.  That’s right –- too many students.  Many of these students barely spoke English; they’d grown up speaking Creole or French.  Few had ever seen the inside of a classroom or even been taught their ABCs. 

But let me tell you, those students were hungry — you hear me?  Hungry.  They studied like their lives depended on it.  They blazed through their lessons.  And that hunger for education lasted for generations in the African American community here in New Orleans. 

When an arsonist set fire to the school’s library in 1877, they built a new one.  When those two original schools ran into financial troubles years later, they started making plans to build an even bigger and better university.  And in the 1930s, when white folks complained that this new school would mean too many black students on their buses, the folks at the school got the city to add a bus line just for their students, because nothing –- nothing –- was going to stop them from achieving the vision of those early founders.  (Applause.)   

And finally, in May of 1934, they broke ground for this school, Dillard University — (applause) — a university that would go on to produce some of the leading thinkers and achievers in our country.  And the day the cornerstone was laid for your library, the President of Howard University spoke these words:  He said, “There lies in this Southland today, buried in unmarked graves, many a black genius who would have blessed this city and this section of our country, if [only] his parents could have had before them the Dillard University you are now building.”

And in the years since then, through segregation and depression, through threats of violence and the floodwaters of a devastating storm, students like you have come here to study and to learn, and to carry forward those hopes and dreams.  And today, I stand before a sea of young geniuses.  Oh, yeah.  (Applause.) 

So, graduates, I hope that you understand that this day is not just the culmination of your own dreams, but the realization of the dreams of so many who came before you.  And you should be so proud, and so happy, and so excited about your futures.  But what you shouldn’t be is satisfied.  (Applause.)  See, because while it is a wonderful thing that all of you are here today, we have to ask ourselves, what about all those geniuses who never get this chance? 

I’m talking about the young people from right here in New Orleans and across the country who aren’t part of a commencement like this one today, kids no different from all of us, kids who never made it out of high school.  The fact is that today, the high school graduation rate for black students is improving, but it is still lower than just about any other group in this country.  And while college graduation rates have risen for nearly every other demographic, including African American women, the college graduation rate for African American men has flatlined. 

See, and the thing is, when our young people fall behind like that in school, they fall behind in life.  Last year, African Americans were more than twice as likely as whites to be unemployed.  They were almost three times as likely to live in poverty.  And they were far more likely to end up in prison or be the victims of violent crimes. 

Now, perhaps when you hear these statistics, you might think to yourself, well, those numbers are terrible, but I’m not part of the problem.  And you might be thinking that since you’re not one of those statistics, and you’re sitting here wearing that nice black robe today, you can go on your way and never look back. 

But folks like you and me, we can’t afford to think like that — never.  See, because we’re the lucky ones, and we can never forget that we didn’t get where we are today all on our own.  We got here today because of so many people who toiled and sweat and bled and died for us — people like our parents and grandparents and all those who came before them, people who never dreamed of getting a college education themselves but who worked, and saved, and sacrificed so that we could be here today.  We owe them.  (Applause.)  We owe them. 

And the only way to pay back that debt is by making those same kinds of sacrifices and investments for the next generation. And I know sitting here right now, that task could seem a bit overwhelming.  I know it could seem like the deck is stacked way too high against our young people.  And the truth is that some of the problems we face –- structural inequality, schools that lag behind, workplace and housing discrimination -– those problems are too big for one person to fix on their own. 

But that’s still no excuse to stand on the sidelines.  Because we know that today, education is still the key to real and lasting freedom — it is still true today.  So it is now up to us to cultivate that hunger for education in our own lives and in those around us.  And we know that hunger is still out there –- we know it. 

We see it in students like DeShawn and Nicole and all of you who scraped and clawed so you could make it to this day.  We see it in the single moms who work three jobs so their kids might have a shot at earning a degree like yours.  (Applause.)  We see that hunger all around the world — in that young woman named Malala who was shot on her school bus in Pakistan just for speaking out in support of girls getting an education, and the more than 200 girls kidnapped from their own school in Nigeria for wanting an education -– (applause) — young people who are knowingly risking their lives every day just to go to school. 

And in fact, you’ve seen that hunger right here at Dillard: your valedictorian, three salutatorians are all from Nigeria.  (Applause.)  They studied hard at an early age, earned scholarships to come here to this university, achieved 4.0 GPAs.  And now they are off pursuing master’s degrees, work in software development, teaching math and science to young people here in the United States.

See, now, that’s the kind of hunger for education that we have to reignite in all of our communities.  It’s the same hunger that gave life to this university, the same hunger that defined so many of our parents and grandparents — including my own.  You see, my parents never went to college, but they were determined to see me and my brother and all the kids in our neighborhood get a good education.  (Applause.)   

So my mother volunteered at my school — helping out every day in the front office, making sure our teachers were doing their jobs, holding their feet to the fire if she thought they were falling short.  I’d walk by the office and there she’d be.  (Laughter.)  I’d leave class to go to the bathroom, there she’d be again, roaming the halls, looking in the classrooms.  And of course, as a kid, I have to say, that was a bit mortifying, having your mother at school all the time. 

But looking back, I have no doubt that my classmates and I got a better education because she was looking over those teachers’ shoulders.  (Applause.)  You see, my mom was not a teacher or a principal or a school board member.  But when it came to education, she had that hunger.  So she believed that our education was very much her business. 

And we need more people who think and act like my mother, and all those mothers out there, because the education of our young people is all of our business.  That’s what Emperor Williams thought.  That’s what the folks here in New Orleans thought as they worked to rebuild this campus after Katrina.  And as graduates of Dillard University, that’s how we need you to think every single day for the rest of your lives.  

You all have opportunities and skills and education that so many folks who came before you never could have dreamed of.  So just imagine the kind of impact that you’re going to make.  Imagine how you can inspire those around you to reach higher and complete their own education.

And you can start small.  Start by volunteering at an after-school program, or helping some high school kids fill out their college applications.  Show them the path that you took.  Or you can think a little bigger — you can get your entire congregation or your community to start a mentoring program; maybe convince your new employer to sponsor scholarships for underprivileged kids.  Or maybe you could think a little higher — maybe you could run for school board or Congress, or, yes, even President of the United States.  (Applause.)   

And then maybe you could build preschools for every single one of our kids.  Maybe you could help turn that pipeline to prison into a highway to college; help give every child in America an education that is truly worth of their promise.  Those are the kind of big dreams that folks who founded this university reached for.  That is how high they set their bar. 

And so we owe it to those folks –- the folks who had the audacity to call their little schools “universities” and name their baby boys “Emperor” –- we owe it to them to reach as high as they did, and to bring others along the way.  As the history of this school has taught us, no dream is too big, no vision is too bold; as long as we stay hungry for education and let that hunger be our North Star, there is nothing, graduates, nothing that we cannot achieve. 

So, graduates, that is your mission.  This is your obligation.  I want you to keep reaching higher.  I want you all to keep raising your bars.  Let the next generation know that there is no greater investment than a good education.  And if you do all of this, then I am confident that you will uphold that duty and write your own chapter into the legacy of this great university.  And let me tell you something, I cannot wait to see the world that your children will be born into.  

Congratulations.  I love you all.  I am honored to be here.  I am proud of you.  God bless you.  And thank your families.  (Applause.)

                     END                10:56 A.M. CDT

Claflin University Achieves 52.2 Percent Alumni Giving Rate!

The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Un iversities is happy to announce that Claflin University has reached a significant milestone in alumni giving! Claflin’s alumni giving rate increased nearly 10 percentage points in 2013, from 43 percent to 52.2 percent, placing it among the best in the nation. The journey to 52.2 percent was a strategic one that involved strengthening existing initiatives, embarking on new ones, embracing new technology, collaborating with the alumni association, involving communications and marketing staff, and solid leadership.

For more information click here: Official Press Release

Congratulations Claflin University!

75 Students from 62 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Named 2014 HBCU All-Stars

FOR RELEASE:

Monday, February 10, 2014

75 Students from 62 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Named 2014 HBCU All-Stars

The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHIHBCU) today announced its first class of HBCU All-Stars, recognizing 75 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students for their accomplishments in academics, leadership, and civic engagement.   Currently enrolled at 62 HBCUs, the All-Stars were selected from 445 students who submitted completed applications that included a transcript, resume, essay, and recommendation.

“Engaging with the next generation of leaders who will graduate from HBCUs and go on to make meaningful contributions to society is crucial to the success of our community, our country and our global competitiveness,” said George Cooper, executive director of the WHIHBCUs.  “It is a privilege to announce these 75 students who have demonstrated a commitment to both their own academic achievement and making a difference in their communities, and we look forward to working with them as partners in advancing President Obama’s college completion goal.”                 

Over the course of the next year, the HBCU All-Stars will serve as ambassadors of the White House Initiative by provide outreach and communication with their fellow students about the value of education and the Initiative as a networking resource.   Through social media and their relationships with community-based organizations, the All-Stars will share promising and proven practices that support opportunities for all young people to achieve their educational and career potential.   In addition, the 45 female and 30 male All-Stars will participate in regional events and web chats with Ivory Toldson, deputy director of the WHIHBCUs, other Initiative staff and professionals from a wide range of disciplines.  They will also have opportunities to engage with other scholars to showcase individual and collective talent across the HBCU community.

More information about the activities of the 75 HBCU All-Stars will be provided in the coming months as they carry out their role as ambassadors of the White House Initiative on Historically Black colleges and Universities.

View the 2014 HBCU All-Stars here: 2014 HBCU All- Star Profile Booklet

NOTE TO EDITORS: Attached is a list of the 2014 HBCU All-Stars, alphabetical by their hometown state, and including the city they are from, the school they attend and the school’s location.

2014 HBCU All Stars

ALABAMA

Huntsville–Sharesse Mason –attends Alabama A&M University, Normal

Mobile–Justin Wells –attends Bishop State Community College, Mobile, AL

Aliceville–Keiwan Harris –attends Concordia College Alabama, Selma, AL

Tuscaloosa–Morgan Curry –attends Shelton State Community College, Tuscaloosa, AL

Tuscaloosa–Jeraun Pouge –attends Stillman College,  Tuscaloosa, AL

Talladega–Chuck Stewart –attends Talladega College, Talladega, AL

Tuskegee—Kalauna Carter –attends Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL

ARKANSAS

Little Rock–Chelsea Fox –attends Philander Smith, Little Rock, AR

CALIFORNIA

Los Angeles–Nicole Tinson –attends Dillard University, New Orleans, LA

Fresno–Arogeanae Brown –attends Virginia State University, Petersburg, Virginia

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Tyrone Hankerson –attends Howard University, District of Columbia

-Jocelyn Cole –attends Howard University, District of Columbia

-LaTrice Clayburn –attends Livingstone College, Salisbury, NC

Abdul Nurriddin –attends University of the District of Columbia Community College, District of Columbia

FLORIDA

Daytona–Shantel Braynen –attends Bethune-Cookman University, Daytona Beach, FL

Tallahassee–Jamil McGinnis –attends Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL

Tallahassee–Jazmyne Simmons –attends Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL

Miami–Jonte Myers –attends Florida Memorial University, Miami Gardens, FL

Orlando–Vivian Nweze –attends Howard University, District of Columbia

GEORGIA

Riverdale–Kelcey Wright –attends Albany State University, Albany, GA

Atlanta–Lillian Harris –attends Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA

Rex–Elijah Porter –attends Fort Valley State University, Fort Valley, GA

Atlanta–Cameron Weathers –attends Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA

Atlanta–David Johnny –attends Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA

Atlanta–Sarah Dillard –attends Savannah State University, Savannah, GA

Albany–Bria Carrithers –attends Spelman College,  Atlanta, GA

KENTUCKY

Frankfort–Chaundra Bush –attends Kentucky State University, Frankfort, KY

LOUISIANA

Grambling–Breonna Ward –attends Grambling State University, Grambling, LA

Ruston–Brooke Battiste –attends Grambling State University, Grambling, LA

Zachary–Robert Chambers –attends Southern University A&M College, Baton Rouge, LA

MARYLAND

Accokeek–Symone Jordan –attends Bowie State University, Bowie, MD

Fort Washington–Kayla Reynolds –attends Delaware State University, Dover, DE

Baltimore–Triston Bing-Young –attends Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD

Fort Washington–Trevor McKie –attends Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD

Silver Spring–Chanel Banks –attends University Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, MD

Salisbury–So Jin Park –attends University Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, MD

MISSISSIPPI

Brookhaven–Lawrence Warren –attends Alcorn State University, Alcorn, MS

Jackson–Candace Chambers –attends Jackson State University, Jackson, MS

Itta Bena–Rodney Rice –attends Mississippi Valley State University, Itta Bena, MS

Holly Springs–Larrance Carter –attends Rust College, Holly Springs, MS

Bolton–Kisa Harris –attends Tougaloo College, Jackson, MS

NORTH CAROLINA

Greensboro–Jasmine Everett –attends Bennett College, Greensboro, NC

Raleigh–Victoria Jones –attends North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC

Whiteville–Valerie Edwards –attends Elizabeth City State University, Elizabeth City, NC

Gates–Amanda Eure –attends Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, NC

Charlotte–Jheanelle Linton –attends Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte, NC

Greensboro–Shakera Fudge –attends North Carolina Agricultural &Technical State University, Greensboro

Greensboro–Leon White –attends North Carolina Agricultural &Technical State University, Greensboro

Knightdale–Joseph Wyatt –attends St. Augustine’s University, Raleigh, NC

Winston-Salem–Georges Guillame –attends Winston Salem State University, Winston Salem, NC

NEW JERSEY

Newark–Akirah Crawford –attends Virginia State University, Petersburg, VA

OKLAHOMA

Ardmore–Beautiful- Joy Fields –attends Langston University, Langston, OK

PENNSYLVANIA

Chester–Ahn-yea Graham –attends Cheyney University of PA, Cheyney, PA

SOUTH CAROLINA

Leesville–Rodrea Zeigler –attends Allen University, Columbia, SC

Orangeburg–Jessica Mong –attends Claflin University, Orangeburg, SC

Lynchburg–Refugio Banuelos –attends Morris College, Sumter, SC

Orangeburg–Harold Rickenbacker –attends South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, SC

Orangeburg–Jasmine Harris –attends South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, SC

TENNESSEE

Nashville–Ciera Carter –attends Fisk University, Nashville, TN

Jackson–Stephanie Phillips –attends Lane College, Jackson, TN

Memphis–Gilbert Carter –attends LeMoyne- Owen College, Memphis, TN

Nashville–Ciera Scales –attends Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN

Nashville–Jeremiah Cooper –attends Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN

Jackson–Aneesa Sood –attends Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL

TEXAS

Houston–Antoine Southern –attends Oakwood University, Huntsville, AL

Dallas–Priscilla Barbour –attends Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, TX

Cedar Hill–Glenn Johnson –attends Texas College, Tyler, TX

Houston–Jarrauri Curry –attends Texas Southern University, Houston, TX

Houston–Candace Jones –attends Texas Southern University, Houston, TX

Garland–Jade Crutch –attends Xavier University, New Orleans,  LA

VIRGINIA

Suffolk–Chanae LeGrier –attends Elizabeth City State University, Elizabeth City, NC

Dendron–Whitney Johnson –attends Hampton University, Hampton, VA

Richmond–Caprichia Moses –attends Virginia Union University, Richmond, VA

VIRGIN ISLANDS

Christiansted–Shereena Cannonier –attends Lincoln University PA, Lincoln, PA

Christiansted–Kevin Dixon –attends University of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas, USVI

REV. DR. W. FRANKLYN RICHARDSON TO BE INDUCTED INTO THE 2013 CLASS OF THE NATIONAL BLACK COLLEGE HALL OF FAME

REV. DR. W. FRANKLYN RICHARDSON TO BE INDUCTED INTO THE 2013 CLASS OF THE NATIONAL BLACK COLLEGE HALL OF FAME FOR EXCEPTIONAL ACHIEVEMENT IN FAITH & THEOLOGY & FOR OUTSTANDING SUPPORT TO HIS COMMUNITY & HBCUs (HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES)—–

September 17, 2013 (New York, NY)—Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, Senior Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, New York, and one of the country’s leading advocates for social justice, will be inducted into the 2013 class of the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame in recognition of his exceptional achievements in the field of Faith and Theology and for his outstanding support to his community and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). He was nominated for his prestigious award by his alma mater Virginia Union University where he holds an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity degree. The 28th Annual Hall of Fame Induction ceremony will be held on Friday, September 27th at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, Georgia, at 6:00 p.m. Dr. Richardson is honored to be inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame and said: “I am truly honored by this recognition and enormously indebted to the legacy of the black college. My gratitude is inexpressible.”

Dr. Richardson’s tireless efforts to defend and promote justice, fairness, and equality for all people has been recognized nationally and internationally and he has made significant contributions to the global nonviolent movement for civil and human rights. A longtime community builder and organizer, Dr. Richardson has played a pivotal role in the grass root efforts of reestablishing a cultural bridge between community and education. He is singularly responsible for leveling the ground by fighting for equitable opportunities in public education in the Mount Vernon community and he has manned the front lines in the battle for just and affordable housing development. His steadfast efforts have resulted two Grace Church related Community Development Corporations that have constructed more than 100 million dollars in affordable housing to date.

As a distinguished theologian, Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson is an internationally sought after preacher, lecturer and facilitator, having preached on several continents. He is a national advocate for economic equity and his counsel and advice are widely solicited in several major corporate boardrooms throughout America.

A man of enormous compassion, intuitive reason, absolute commitment, and an incisive mind, Dr. Richardson demonstrates in his persona the union of passion and intellect. He has led the ministry at Grace Baptist Church since 1975 and under his leadership the congregation has grown to include more than 4000 members as well as a second church in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Among other achievements, Dr. Richardson served as General Secretary for twelve years of the eight-million-member National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., which thrust him into the international arena of the World Council of Churches where he served on its prestigious Central Committee. The World Council represents more than 400 million Christians in 150 nations. He also served on the boards of the Congress of the National Black Churches, the National Urban League, and the Constituency for Africa. A life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Dr. Richardson is also a member of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. He is the Chairman of National Action Network, the organization founded by Rev. Al Sharpton in 1991.

Press Information on the President’s Plan to Make College More Affordable: A Better Bargain for the Middle Class

President Obama  gave a major speech on College Affordability and Value later this morning at the University of Buffalo. Please see the White House Fact Sheet  for more information.  Be sure to check out the White House website and this morning’s coverage in the New York Times. Further, at 10:20 a.m. this morning, Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Munoz and Deputy Director James Kvaal  hosted a national press call. The information is provided below the Fact Sheet for you to share with press.

Find minutes from President Obama’s speech here

 

WHITE HOUSE EXECUTIVE WILL GIVE TALLADEGA ADDRESS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:  Talladega College
Office of Public Relations/Mrs. Nicola Lawler
Telephone:  256-761-6207
E-mail: nllawler@talladega.edu
April 9, 2012 
 
Talladega, Alabama—Talladega College will host its annual Honors Convocation on Thursday, April 12.  This year’s speaker is Dr. John S. Wilson, the executive director who was appointed by President Barack Obama to head the White House Initiative on HBCUs.
 
Dr. Wilson spearheads a White House team that works with over 32 federal agencies and private corporate and philanthropic entities to strengthen the capacity of the nation’s 105 historically black colleges and universities. Prior to his White House post, Dr. Wilson served as an associate professor in the Graduate School of Education at George Washington University (GWU). At GWU, he was also the executive dean of the Virginia campus and he helped develop the university’s strategic plan. Prior to GWU, Dr. Wilson served for 16 years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in various capacities as the director of foundations relations, assistant provost and other lead positions. As an MIT fundraiser, he served as a senior officer on capital campaigns with goals of $700 million and $2 billion. He more than doubled the productivity of an office he managed and peaked a record annual revenue of over $50 million.
 
Dr. Wilson is a graduate of Morehouse College. He has a Master’s in Theological Studies from Harvard University; and he also obtained a master’s and doctorate degree in administration, planning and social policy from Harvard. While serving as the Greater Boston Morehouse College Alumni Association president, Dr. Wilson raised over $.5 million in scholarships and $.5 million toward community outreach for his alumni chapter. He also served as a teaching fellow in Harvard’s Afro-American Studies Department and the Graduate School of Education while employed at MIT.
 
The College will salute its honor roll students, Dean’s List students and Presidential scholars beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday morning in DeForest Chapel. The convocation is open to family, friends, and the general public. For more information, please contact 256-761-6212.
 
 ABOUT TALLADEGA COLLEGE
Talladega College, founded in 1867, is Alabama’s oldest historically black private college and among the oldest liberal arts colleges in the nation.  Located in the historic district of the city of Talladega, Alabama, the college offers a range of degrees in four divisions:  Business and Administration, Humanities and Fine Arts, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Social Sciences and Education. Talladega College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to award baccalaureate degrees; and the school holds several institutional memberships. For more information visit www.talladega.edu