Landrieu Announces More Than $6.8M for Six La. Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Office of Senator Mary Landrieu

United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., today announced that six schools in Louisiana received more than $6.8 million as a part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Institutional Aid Program.

“I have long supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities and fought to provide them with the resources they need to build up their facilities and academic programs,” said Sen. Landrieu. “Louisiana has a rich tradition of strong HBCUs. The funding awarded today will allow these schools to continue to grow, both physically and academically to provide a better education for their students.”

The purpose of the HBCU Program is to provide financial assistance to establish or strengthen academic resources, financial management, endowments and physical plants to enhance these academic institutions.
The following HBCUs that received grants from the U.S. Department of Education:

  • Dillard University will receive $863,050
  • Grambling State University will receive $1.2 million
  • Southern University and A&M College will receive nearly $1.6 million
  • Southern University at Shreveport will receive $946,102
  • Southern University at New Orleans will receive $1 million
  • Xavier University will receive more than $1.1 million

President, First Lady to Deliver Commencement Addresses to HBCUs

White House Office of Media Affairs

This month, President Obama, the First Lady, and officials from throughout the Administration will deliver commencement addresses to Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the nation.  This weekend Mrs. Obama will send off the graduates of University of Arkansas – Pine Bluff Saturday, May 8th and President Obama will greet the graduates of Hampton University Sunday, May 9th.  In total, eleven HBCUs will receive commencement addresses from Obama Administration officials this year.

Other officials participating in graduation ceremonies include Secretary Robert Gates, Department of Defense (Morehouse College), Secretary Arne Duncan, Department of Education (Xavier University), Administrator Charles Bolden, NASA (Huston-Tillotson University), Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President (Morgan State University), Melody Barnes, Director, White House Domestic Policy Council (Virginia Union University), and Ambassador Susan Rice, United Nations (Spellman College).  In addition, John Wilson, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, is scheduled to speak to Wilberforce University, Wiley College, and Harris-Stowe State University.

America’s 105 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are where generations of African Americans have gained a sense of their heritage, their history, and their place in the American story. President Obama values the historic contributions HBCUs have made in educating students who previously would have been denied a college education.  Many of these schools began during Reconstruction as small schools with limited resources; today these are some of our nation’s top institutions of higher education, nurturing our nation’s future leaders.

During a recent White House ceremony honoring HBCUs, President Obama spoke of the importance of these institutions to the well-being of not just the African American community, but to the entire nation.

President Obama said, “[W]e’re not only doing this because these schools are a gateway to a better future for African Americans; we’re doing it because their success is vital to a better future for all Americans.”

HBCUs are also critical to the President’s goal of achieving the highest percentage of college graduates in the world by the year 2020.  As part of the effort to achieve this goal, HBCUs will receive $850 million over the next 10 years as a result of the recently passed Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act.  Combined with the $150 million provided to Predominately Black Institutions, $1 billion has been authorized by this Act to serve institutions with predominately African American student populations.

These resources are in addition to scheduled increases in the Federal Pell Grant program, which are awarded to low-income families and do not have to be repaid.  The Obama Administration has nearly doubled the aid available in the program from $18.2 billion in the 2008-2009 award year to a proposed $34.8 billion in 2011-2012, and the maximum Pell Grant is expected to increase to nearly $6,000 in coming years.  More than half of the students attending HBCUs qualify for Pell Grants and other financial aid.

In February President Obama signed a new executive order strengthening the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  Under the leadership of executive director John Wilson, the office is designed to serve as the liaison between HBCUs and the federal government working to increase the capacity of these institutions to participate in federal programs through grant awards, private-sector initiatives and public-private partnerships.

Obama Administration HBCU Commencement Schedule*

Saturday, May 1st
·         John Wilson, Executive Director, White House Initiative on HBCUs – Wilberforce University

Saturday, May 8th
·         First Lady Michelle Obama – University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
·         Secretary Arne Duncan, Department of Education – Xavier University
·         NASA Administrator Charles Bolden – Huston-Tillotson University
·         White House Domestic Policy Director Melody Barnes – Virginia Union University
·         John Wilson, Executive Director, White House Initiative on HBCUs – Wiley College

May 9th
·         President Barack Obama – Hampton University

May 11th

·         John Wilson, Executive Director, White House Initiative on HBCUs – Harris-Stowe State University

May 15th
·         Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President – Morgan State University

May 16th
·         Secretary Robert Gates, Department of Defense – Morehouse College
·         Ambassador Susan Rice, United Nations – Spellman College

Michelle Obama to deliver University of Arkansas Pine Bluff Commencement Address

From the Wire – Office of the First Lady

The Office of the First Lady announced today that First Lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to deliver three commencement addresses in the months ahead.

On May 8th, the First Lady will address the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Established more than 130 years ago, the University began as the only state-supported institution of higher education for African Americans in Arkansas. Like many of the nation’s more than one-hundred historically black colleges and universities, the University has played a special role in enabling young people from many walks of life to further their education. While the University offers many different areas of study, it remains dedicated to the mission of providing educational opportunities to underserved communities particularly in the Arkansas Delta region.

It is one of a small number of HBCUs that also are land-grant institutions and thus have a long history of preparing students for fields in agriculture, farming, and engineering. The University currently boasts an enrollment of more than 3500 students.

On May 16th, The George Washington University will host their graduation ceremonies in Washington DC. Mrs. Obama is scheduled to address this group provided the student body, faculty and staff complete the 100,000 hours of community service required during the 2009-2010 academic year. Mrs. Obama issued the challenge for these service hours in exchange for her commencement visit in September of 2009, during the first National Day of Service and Remembrance, which was the culmination of President Barack Obama’s “United We Serve” summer service initiative.

On June 11th, Mrs. Obama will address the Anacostia Senior High School Commencement, a DC public school that Mrs. Obama visited in the spring of 2009 in conjunction with her Women of Excellence event and her early mentoring activities as First Lady.

In 2009, Mrs. Obama spoke to the University of California, Merced’s first full senior class. She also addressed the Washington Math and Science Tech Public Charter High School Graduation in Washington DC.

Dallas South News post of the day: 4 unacceptable DISD Schools in trouble

By Shawn Williams – Editor,

In the last week Tawnell Hobbs of the Dallas Morning News has been reporting on the poor performance of 4 DISD  High  School: Kimball, Pinkston, Roosevelt, and Seagoville.  According to Hobbs, the high schools have been deemed academically unacceptable for four consecutive years.  This sets up the possibility that each school would remove 75 percent of teachers and reassign at least 50 percent of the students.

She also writes that there are contingency plans to have the four schools act as “Sattelite Magnets” for Townview also known as shuffling chairs on the deck of the Titanic.

These school must all be considered as serious candidates for a Spruce style reconstitution.  After being in the same low performing situation a few years ago, it was decided that 75% of the teachers at H. Grady Spruce would be removed and students disbursed to other DISD schools.

As we’ve reported here, Spruce High is making strides under the direction of Dr. Lucy Davila Hakemack.  Test scores are up, and even more importantly students feel like that can have a positive high school experience.

It’s important to use any means possible to keep these schools as part of their respective communities for the long term.  And while currently these schools represent community underachievement, it doesn’t have to be that way.  They could all benefit from fresh ideas, new thinking, and a better approach. The same could be said for DISD as a whole.

While each of these schools could gain from partnerships with entities like TI, SMU, TAMU-Commerce, and El Centro as mentioned in Hobbs column, throwing up our hands shouldn’t be the answer.  Reconstitution is painful and costly, and doesn’t look good for the school or district once it takes place.  But when you have an example like Spruce right inside DISD, it seem like the option would be fully vetted and seriously considered.

Photo of Dr. Michael Hinojosa from Dallas Elevators is a Dallas nonprofit news organization that focuses on Southern Dallas.

Chick Talk Dallas on First White Homecoming Queen at Hampton

I thought this was a nice take by Joanna Cattanach, editor of on the Hampton University’s new homecoming queen.  You can read the post in its entirety at Chick Talk Dallas.

  • What’s wrong with this picture? Um, the white girl in the middle has something to do with it. Earlier this month, Nikole Churchill,22, was chosen as 2009 Hampton University homecoming queen. Hampton U is historically black, and the main campus of 5,700 students has a  mostly black student body.
  • Churchill wrote a letter to President Barack Obama claiming he could relate to the racism she was facing at the university. “I am hoping that perhaps you would be able to make an appearance to my campus, Hampton University, so that my fellow Hamptonians can stop focusing so much on the color of my skin and doubting my abilities to represent,” she wrote, “but rather be proud of the changes our nation is making toward accepting diversity.”
  • So why shouldn’t Churchill win? She got accepted to the university. She paid tuition. Attended classes. She won fair and square. Complaining about her race now is a little like the pot calling the kettle black.

Attorney General and Education Secretary Call for National Conversation on Values and Student Violence


U.S. Department of Justice to Release Study on Children’s Exposure to Violence;

U.S. Department of Education to Provide $500,000 Grant to Help Fenger Community

Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan today joined with Chicago city officials to call for a national conversation on values to address youth violence in the wake of the fatal beating of a Chicago high school student.  The announcement followed meetings with City officials, community leaders, students, and parents.

“Youth violence isn’t a Chicago problem, any more than it is a black problem or a white problem. It’s something that affects communities big and small, and people of all races and colors. Today is the beginning of what will be a sustained, national effort on behalf of this entire administration to address youth violence and to make our streets safe for everyone,” Holder said.

“Chicago will not be defined by this incident but rather by our response to it – so we came here today to join with you and with communities all across America – to call for a national conversation on values. It’s a conversation that must happen every place in America where violence, intolerance, and discrimination exists,” Duncan said.

Today’s meeting continues President Obama’s and the Administration’s strong commitment to combating violence:

    • In August, the Attorney General joined mayors from across the nation at a White House Gang Violence Prevention and Crime Control Conference.
    • The Recovery Act provided $4 billion for state and local law enforcement assistance, crime prevention, victims of crime, and funding to address violence against women. Through the Recovery Act, the City of Chicago received over $13 million in funding from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to hire 50 officers to help combat crime and violence.
    • The President’s budget includes a request of $298 million in additional funding for hiring additional police officers to help meet the Administration’s commitment to hire 50,000 officers nationwide.
    • The Administration requested $114 million within the Department of Justice to fund programs designed to reduce criminal recidivism and help end the revolving door from corrections to reoffending, as well as $115 million in reentry-related programs funded within the Department of Labor.
    • The President’s budget requested $24 million to support successful community-based partnerships designed to end violent youth crime – partnerships like the successful model implemented by Operation Ceasefire in Chicago.

The Department of Justice will today release a study on children’s exposure to violence. Among other findings, the study shows that more than 60 percent of the children surveyed were exposed to violence in the past year, either directly or indirectly. Nearly half of children and adolescents were assaulted at least once, and more than one in 10 were injured as a result.  Nearly one-quarter were the victims of robbery, vandalism or theft, and one in 16 were victimized sexually. The study can be found at after 2 p.m. ET.

“These numbers are astonishing, and they are unacceptable. We simply cannot stand for an epidemic of violence that robs our youth of their childhood and perpetuates a cycle in which today’s victims become tomorrow’s criminals,” Holder said.

Duncan announced that the Department of Education is working with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to award a $500,000 grant to help Fenger High School and the elementary and middle schools that feed into Fenger HS, restoring learning environments following the death of 16-year-old Derrion Albert. His fatal beating, outside a Roseland community center several blocks from the high school, was captured on a cell phone video. Funds for this grant are coming from a grant program entitled Project SERV – School Emergency Response to Violence. This program is designed to help restore the learning environment in school districts that have been impacted by a significant traumatic event. SERV grants also were provided to school districts in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York in 2009.

Duncan emphasized, however, “This is not about the money. Money alone will never solve this problem. It’s about our values. It’s about who we are as a society. And it’s about taking responsibility for our young people to teach them what they need to know to live side-by-side and deal with their differences without anger or violence.”

The grant from the Department of Education will enable CPS to facilitate safe passage for students to and from school, offer training to enable teachers to better manage their classrooms and engage students in learning, and it can be used to collaborate with community organizations to expand and increase student-centered support programs. The grant also can be used to strengthen the school support network with crisis response training for teachers, and to provide additional, extensive mental health services to students and the school community.


U.S. Rep Clyburn/Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Host Social Media Forum w/ Shawn Williams & other Leading African American Social Media Strategiests

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF), chaired by House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, will debut Digital Fusion – CBCF 2.0 at a first-of-its-kind forum of the leading African American social media strategists called Black Power 2.0 – Social Media and Digital Content Mobilizing the Masses. The convening will address opportunities to engage communities through social media increasing rates of Internet adoption by the African American community.


2:00-5:30 p.m. September 24th, 2009


Room 146A

Washington Convention Center

801 Mount Vernon Pl NW

Washington, DC 20003


54 percent of the African American community is not online. Underserved communities are excluded from opportunities to access job applications, health care information or financial services. Black Power 2.0 will feature the nation’s elite African American social media experts at the cutting edge of digital movement.

A special session, “The World as We See It: Recreating Communities with Public Purpose Content,” will feature Rey Ramsey, CEO of One Economy, and award-winning director and producer, Robert Townsend. They will address the role of public-purpose media—online content that engages, informs and facilitates action—in stimulating demand for broadband among those who need its resources most. Townsend produces and directs Diary of a Single Mom, a ground-breaking online Web series that chronicles the lives of three single mothers trying get ahead despite obstacles that all single parents face.


Diary of a Single Mom Cast Members present at the session include:

* Monica Calhoun (“Sister Act II,” “Love and Basketball”),
* Janice Lynde (“Six Feet Under,” “General Hospital”)
* Valery Ortiz (“South of Nowhere,” “Date Movie”)
* Richard Roundtree (“Se7en,” “Shaft”)
* Billy Dee Williams (“Star Wars,” “Lady Sings the Blues”)
* Leon (“Cool Runnings,” “Waiting to Exhale,” “The Temptations”)


Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, U.S. House of Representatives*

Donna Brazile, Principal, Brazile & Associates*

Farai Chideya, Founder,; Power to Pen Media Group (Moderator)

Robert Townsend, Actor/Director/Producer, Diary of a Single Mom

Rey Ramsey, CEO, One Economy Corporation; Founding BBOC Member

Donna Byrd, Publisher, The Root at

Eric Easter, Vice President Digital & Entertainment, Johnson Publishing/Ebony Jet

Gina McCauley, Founder, Blogging While Brown, What About Our Daughters, Michelle Obama Watch

Carmen Dixon-Rosenzweig, Founder, All About Race; Editor, AOL Black Voices

Angela Conyers-Benton, Founder, Black Web 2.0

Shawn Williams, Editor,

Gary Mack, CEO, Dacodo

James Andrews, Co-Founder, EveryWhere

Navarrow Wright, Founder, Global Grind

Kristal High, Founding Co-Chair, Innovation Generation Broadband Policy Summit

Statement from the President on House Passage of Historic Education Reform Bill

We’re finally on the White House Press List (we get stuff from the RNC multiple times a day so I ‘ve always tried to give them space here for recognizing us).  This is a statement from the President.

I want to thank the House of Representatives for the progress they made today on the reforms I’ve proposed to strengthen higher education and our early education system.  Today, the House delivered a historic set of reforms to the financial aid system that will offer relief to students and families.

This bill will end the billions upon billions of dollars in unwarranted subsidies that we hand out to banks and financial institutions, and will use that money to guarantee access to low-cost loans, and strengthen Pell Grants and Perkins loans that make college more affordable.

This bill also follows through on our plan to shore up our community college system, simplifies the complicated financial aid forms to make it easier for students to apply for and get the help they need, and will strengthen standards and improve outcomes in early learning programs. I look forward to signing these reforms into law.

100 Useful College-Planning Tools for Conscientious Parents

The following tips come from a list put together by .  Besides the general tips in this post, there are helpful hints about campus safety, testing, career choices and other.  To see the list in its entirety, click here.  Hat Tip to Amber Johnson.


These tools are just all around helpful.

  1. Checklist for College Planning: Make use of this checklist to help your high school student make the right decisions.
  2. ACT Student Stories: Share these stories with your child to motivate them to do well for college.
  3. Five Common College Parenting Mistakes: Avoid making these mistakes with your child.
  4. 10 Ways to Jump-Start College Planning: Follow this guide to help your middle school student prepare for college.
  5. Checklists for Parents of College Students: Get things straight with your college student using these checklists.
  6. Common College Planning Terms: This resource will help you decode terms in college planning.
  7. A Senior’s Advice to Parents: Read this article to get advice for helping your student, straight from a real high school senior.
  8. Hoverings: This blog for college parents offers lots of helpful advice.
  9. My child is off to college…now what?: This article offers sound advice for what you can do now that your child has left the nest.
  10. College Confidential Parents Forum: This forum is a great place for parents to discuss admissions, financial aid, and more.
  11. Helping Your Child Become a First-Generation College Student: This booklet will help you prepare your teen for college and a career.
  12. Parents Countdown to College Coach: Read this blog for excellent ongoing advice for parents getting ready to send their child to college.
  13. Glossary: In this glossary, you’ll find college related terms and acronyms explained.
  14. Break Those Bad Habits Early: Get your student prepared for college life by breaking these bad habits.
  15. College Parent Magazine: This magazine will help you survive the college parenting experience.
  16. College 101 for Parents: In this guide, you’ll find essential questions and answers for parents sending their children off to college.
  17. ACT Parent Newsletter: Subscribe to this newsletter from ACT, and you’ll get ongoing advice for preparing your future college student.
  18. End-of-Year College Planning Checklist: Follow this checklist to make sure you’re on track.
  19. Learning to Let Go: Parents as Partners: In this guide, you’ll learn how to be a good parent partner.
  20. Empty Nest Syndrome: From this guide, you’ll learn how to deal with your empty nest.
  21. Decade of Decisions: In this quarterly newsletter, you’ll get news customized to your child’s year in school.