Girls in Your Community Want You to Mentor Them

mentor

Ann Fudge, a successful corporate executive who was a recipient of Glamour magazine’s Woman of the Year Award and is often written about in the pages of BLACK ENTERPRISE, is retired—sort of.

“I serve on several corporate boards and do a lot of traveling,” she told me recently. “So, it’s hard for me to say, ‘I’m retired.’”

 

Mother Caroline Academy

 

In addition to remaining involved in the corporate space, Fudge is pursuing a long-held dream: to volunteer in girls education, specifically with low-income girls of color.

Through a friend, Fudge learned about a remarkable school in Boston that’s making a great difference in the lives of young women during the critical middle school years: Mother Caroline Academy.

Rooted in the Catholic tradition, Mother Caroline Academy educates about 80 girls of all faiths in grades 4–8. Many live in Dorchester and hail from immigrant families.

 

Professional Teachers, Engaged Parents

 

The school is led by Ed Hudner, who professionalized the teaching staff, ending the school’s dependence on volunteer teachers to enable the pursuit of academic excellence. The difference shows. With professional teachers now making use of assessment data to inform their instruction, the students are being accepted into competitive high schools, including boarding schools as far away as California.

Fudge also told me about the Parenting Journey, a mandatory program. Developed by Karen Dottin-Ricketts, the program helps parents support their daughters and become more invested in the school’s success. As a result, there is 100% parent engagement from those who complete it.

“The parents work as a team for their child’s success,” Fudge said. “Once a week they get together.”

 

Irrepressible Girls

 

Fudge has worked to get speakers to come to the school and provide other opportunities for greater exposure. After reading Hidden Figures, she told the school about it. Then, one of the English teachers developed a unit study, which involved the girls writing from the perspective of one of the human NACA computers.

Mother Caroline Academy enjoys a 100% graduation rate; 82% of its graduates enroll in college, and 78% of them graduate in four years. (According to Complete College America, only a minority of students graduate on time.)

Fudge is impressed with the girls’ intelligence and confidence. In the U.S. poverty is often a barrier, but people like Hudner, Dottin-Ricketts, and Fudge are helping these students to leap over it.

Fudge urges others to get involved, as well. Dorchester isn’t the only community that has bright, low-income girls—or boys. “Find a way to get engaged in your community,” she said. “Even if you mentor just one child, it’s huge.”

For more, visit the Mother Caroline Academy website.

Trump Overturns Education Regulations

education regulations

During his campaign, Donald Trump promised to undo much of President Obama’s legacy. Now, as promised, Trump has signed bills that will overturn two education regulations set by his predecessor, the Washington Post  and the Chicago Tribune report.

According to Education Week, the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants, or Title II, is currently funded at $2.25 billion. Title II, which has Trump overturned, helps states and districts provide teacher training.

Additionally, the president has also overturned the accountability provisions of ESSA, or Every Student Succeeds Act. However, Education Week reports that states are already far along in meeting the requirements ESSA had already set for them. State plans are due either next month or in September. That will probably change after this year, since the Trump template requires much less of states.

Here’s more about this development from the Washington Post article, Trump Signs Bills Overturning Obama-era Education Regulations:

“President Trump signed bills Monday overturning two Obama-era education regulations, continuing the Republican majority’s effort to undo key pieces of the previous administration’s legacy.

Trump’s move scraps new requirements for programs that train new K-12 teachers and rolls back a set of rules outlining how states must carry out the Every Student Succeeds Act, a bipartisan federal law meant to hold schools accountable for student performance. In a signing ceremony at the White House Monday, the president hailed the measures for “removing an additional layer of bureaucracy to encourage freedom in our schools.”

Leaders of the Republican majority claimed that the accountability rules represented an executive overreach by former president Barack Obama. Democrats argued that rescinding the rules opens loopholes that states can use to shield poorly performing schools from scrutiny, especially when they fail to serve poor children, minorities, English-language learners and students with disabilities.

Civil rights and business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, also opposed doing away with the rules. The measure to repeal the regulations passed easily in the GOP-dominated House, but barely made it out of the Senate on a 50 to 49 vote, mostly along party lines.

The teacher-preparation regulation, which stemmed from the Higher Education Act, required states to issue annual ratings for training programs within their borders. It was meant to ensure that novice teachers enter classrooms more prepared, but it was broadly unpopular from the start. Teachers unions said the regulations wrongly tied ratings of teacher-training programs to the performance of teachers’ students on standardized tests; colleges and states argued that the rules were onerous and expensive, and many Republicans argued that Obama’s Education Department had overstepped the bounds of executive authority.”

 

Read more at the Washington Post.

Trump Overturns Education Regulations

education regulations

During his campaign, Donald Trump promised to undo much of President Obama’s legacy. Now, as promised, Trump has signed bills that will overturn two education regulations set by his predecessor, the Washington Post  and the Chicago Tribune report.

According to Education Week, the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants, or Title II, is currently funded at $2.25 billion. Title II, which has Trump overturned, helps states and districts provide teacher training.

Additionally, the president has also overturned the accountability provisions of ESSA, or Every Student Succeeds Act. However, Education Week reports that states are already far along in meeting the requirements ESSA had already set for them. State plans are due either next month or in September. That will probably change after this year, since the Trump template requires much less of states.

Here’s more about this development from the Washington Post article, Trump Signs Bills Overturning Obama-era Education Regulations:

“President Trump signed bills Monday overturning two Obama-era education regulations, continuing the Republican majority’s effort to undo key pieces of the previous administration’s legacy.

Trump’s move scraps new requirements for programs that train new K-12 teachers and rolls back a set of rules outlining how states must carry out the Every Student Succeeds Act, a bipartisan federal law meant to hold schools accountable for student performance. In a signing ceremony at the White House Monday, the president hailed the measures for “removing an additional layer of bureaucracy to encourage freedom in our schools.”

Leaders of the Republican majority claimed that the accountability rules represented an executive overreach by former president Barack Obama. Democrats argued that rescinding the rules opens loopholes that states can use to shield poorly performing schools from scrutiny, especially when they fail to serve poor children, minorities, English-language learners and students with disabilities.

Civil rights and business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, also opposed doing away with the rules. The measure to repeal the regulations passed easily in the GOP-dominated House, but barely made it out of the Senate on a 50 to 49 vote, mostly along party lines.

The teacher-preparation regulation, which stemmed from the Higher Education Act, required states to issue annual ratings for training programs within their borders. It was meant to ensure that novice teachers enter classrooms more prepared, but it was broadly unpopular from the start. Teachers unions said the regulations wrongly tied ratings of teacher-training programs to the performance of teachers’ students on standardized tests; colleges and states argued that the rules were onerous and expensive, and many Republicans argued that Obama’s Education Department had overstepped the bounds of executive authority.”

 

Read more at the Washington Post.

MissionU Fixes What’s Broken in Higher Ed

MissionU

There’s a lot about higher education that seems upside down. Like the exorbitant student debt crisis; degrees that don’t prepare students for jobs; and colleges that accept or reject you based on what you did in high school—when you were the least mature version of yourself.

Adam Braun has started a new higher ed experience, one that “values future potential over past test scores,” and that doesn’t charge students until they land a job paying at least $50,000.

 

MissionU

 

Braun, who also founded Pencils of Promise, a nonprofit that builds schools in the developing world, developed MissionU to address some of the significant problems in higher ed.

I spoke with him recently by e-mail to learn more.

Why did you start MissionU?

MissionU seeks to address the two main issues driving our broken system: insurmountable, crushing debt and the fact that students are unprepared for today’s job market. MissionU was created as a better, smarter form of higher education to give young people the skills and experience needed to launch a successful career, debt-free.

What is the MissionU business model?

MissionU charges $0 upfront tuition, instead investing in its students for a full year with a unique income-share agreement. Students pay 15% of their salary for three years after they complete the program, but only once they’ve landed a job paying at least $50,000. We set up this model to set a new standard for institutions to align with student outcomes.

Are these blue-collar jobs, white-collar jobs, or something else?

Our first major is Data Analytics and Business Intelligence. We chose this major because after speaking with hundreds of employers across dozens of industries, we identified a tremendous gap in skilled, available talent in those areas. Data analytics came up as a job in high demand across industries and one in which competency could be clearly demonstrated, so we developed our first cohort around that. The average market salary for data analysts ranges between $55,000 and $100,000 per year.

Where is MissionU?

We determine the physical location of each cohort based on where we see the most demand from our application pool, so anyone from any part of the U.S. can apply. Because our curriculum is a combination of online and in-person, we require that students live within 50 miles of their cohort. Our headquarters are in San Francisco.

Applicants must be 19 years of age or older to apply, and we do not evaluate standardized test scores, GPA, high school degree, or college credits as part of the admissions process. If you refer a student that succeeds, MissionU will pay you $500.

For more, visit MissionU.

Saving Promise—The National Campaign to Stop Domestic Abuse

Saving Promise

“I come from a family of mothers and daughters, who survived over 60 years of domestic violence. It’s the story of my grandmother, my mother, myself, and my daughter. And it would be the story of my daughter’s little girl, whose name is Promise, that became the fifth generation, as she lay in bed next to my daughter while she was being strangled by Promise’s father.”

So began my astonishing interview with L.Y. Marlow, founder of Saving Promise, the national campaign to stop intimate partner violence.

 

Saving Victims of Domestic Violence

 

Marlow grew up in poverty, but went to school for 16 years at night, eventually earning three degrees, including an M.B.A. After enjoying more than 20 years in a corporate career that included technology, engineering, and project management and a stint at IBM, Marlow walked away from it all to start Saving Promise.

“The organization takes a holistic perspective,” Marlow told me, noting that domestic abuse has deep root causes.

“There are men abusers, but women abusers, too—men are also victims of abuse.” Marlow also notes that abuse isn’t always physical; it can be psychological, sexual, verbal, or financial.

“What I’m most excited about, though, is our new partnership with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. This partnership will develop a learning lab to research and better study domestic violence, and put forth greater education, prevention, policies, and the like to change the trajectory of this global health crisis,” Marlow says.

 

‘Where People Live, Work, Play, and Pray’

 

The organization, whose whole focus is prevention, is taking a multi-disciplinary approach. “We want to reach people where they live, work, play, and even pray,” says Marlow.

In addition to targeting public and private schools, Saving Promise is also working with the healthcare sector and the workplace. However, schools are an important target. Marlow says, “Young people ages 13–28 experience the most intimate partner violence.”

She also categorizes this abuse as a health crisis, because the impact on health can be severe. “Domestic violence causes chronic and communal diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes,” Marlow says. “It also causes PTSD and other mental health issues.”

Women of color are disproportionately impacted by domestic violence, Marlow says, citing a statistic that black women are three times more likely to be abused by an intimate partner.

For more about the important work of Saving Promise, visit its website.

3 Incredibly Easy Ways to Teach Your Kids About Money

teach

Unfortunately, as adults, we learn more about money after the mistake is made. We often find ourselves saying, “Why didn’t I learn this in school?” or “I wish someone would have taught me this at a younger age.” We sometimes find ourselves blaming the school system, but in order for the black community to build wealth, WE must depend on ourselves.   Financial education starts at home, and as a community, we must uplift and educate our children. Changing the financial legacy of our families starts with YOU.

If you are not the wealthiest person walking, it is perfectly fine. It is OK if you have debt; it is even OK if you are not able to save a lot of money. You do not need to be a Certified Financial Planner to educate our youth. Yes, there is always room for improvement, and that, I know, you will soon experience. However, here are three easy ways to teach your children about money.

 

1. Take Your Child to the Bank Once a Month

 

If you have a bank account, your child should too. If you have deposited money into your account (whether it’s direct deposit or manually), your child should too. Some parents open bank accounts for their children but fail to involve them in the process. Allow your child to learn by doing.

Once a month, bring your youngster to the bank to make a deposit or a withdrawal. Something small like $10, may not seem like a lot to you, but it could mean the world to a child. Give them a tour of the bank. Let them know what goes on in the bank, and how they play a part in it all. Allow your child to visit the teller and make his or her own deposit. It makes their experience with money real, and they will have a better understanding of money as they get older.

 

2. Allow Your Child to Help You Pay Bills

 

When we were younger, we knew Mommy and Daddy paid bills but did we really know ALL the bills they had to pay? We knew Mommy and Daddy went to work, but we didn’t know all their monetary responsibilities. When you’re younger, you really have no idea how many bills you are responsible for as an adult.

Allow your child to get a better understanding of their potential tasks as an adult. Show them how you plan your money, and share the dates your bills are due. Choose a bill that you always pay on time and show them the process of making a payment. You will be surprised at how well kids work technology in this day and age. It could save you some time, and it will better prepare them for what’s to come.

 

3. Buy Stock for Your Children During the Holidays and For Their Birthdays

 

During a time when our community is being the consumer, teach your child how to be the owner. Let them know that it is acceptable to spend money, but building wealth requires them to keep and invest their money. Buying stock in a company doesn’t have to cost you millions of dollars. There are brokerage accounts that do not require a minimum balance, and there are many companies whose shares cost less than $100.

If your child turns six, on their birthday, why not buy them six shares of their favorite toy company? What about their favorite social media, favorite clothing store, favorite game company, or their favorite computer device? As we spend our money with these companies, we are continuing to help them stay rich. By investing in stock, we are helping our offspring to become rich. Empowering our children is teaching them more than just math and reading skills. It is about teaching them the skill sets that can financially strengthen the black community.

By implementing these small steps, you are instilling a value system.  How we value money is how our children will value money. What we teach our children is what they will teach their children. If our children see us invest, they will invest. Financial habits are passed down just like skin tone, eye color, and body features. The legacy that we leave our children, whether it is money, investments, real estate, etc., is what they will continue to leave for their families. Although our monetary situations may not be the best, that doesn’t mean our children don’t deserve the financial best. We are creating a cycle of change, and remember the change starts with YOU!

 

 


Ashley M. Fox is a former Wall Street analyst, a Howard University grad, and she is now an expert in her field as a Financial Education Specialist. She is the founder of Empify (merging of the words EMPower and modIFY), an education-based organization created to help both adults and children understand financial literacy. Since leaving her Wall Street career, Ashley has become an award-winning financial coach who has helped her clients collectively save and invest over $1.4 million. She is a highly sought-after speaker who has been featured on empowerment tours, college campuses, and keynote speaking platforms. She has been featured on Jim Cramer’s “The Street”, Yahoo Finance, AOL, Rolling Out Magazine, Huffington Post, and Glamour Magazine.

Twitter: @_Ashleymfox

Instagram: @_Ashleymfox

Descendant of Sold Slaves Works at Georgetown U.

Georgetown

When the story broke last year in The New York Times that Georgetown University, one of the most prominent Catholic colleges in the nation, had, in 1838, sold 272 slaves to keep itself fiscally afloat, it was a shocking and sordid tale.

That enslaved men, women, and children were sold against their will by Jesuit priests somehow makes the story even more heartrending. Descendants of the enslaved are living today. Thanks to DNA testing technology, many are being identified and making the connection to ancestors who were sold South from Maryland.

Georgetown has since announced that it will give preference to those descendants who apply for admission.

However, Georgetown is an elite school. Rather that giving preference in admissions, I think the university should provide descendants with free K-12 schooling in the best local private or Catholic schools. Such preparation would equip students to flourish in a school like Georgetown.

Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times article, titled Tracing His Roots, Georgetown Employee Learns University Sold His Ancestor, about a current Georgetown employee, who discovered his own connection to the 1838 sale:

As a Georgetown employee, Jeremy Alexander watched as the university grappled with its haunted past: the sale of slaves in 1838 to help rescue it from financial ruin.

He listened as Georgetown’s president apologized for its sins and looked for ways to make amends. And Mr. Alexander observed, with wonder, some of the slave descendants when they visited the campus.

What he did not know at the time: He was one of them.

Mr. Alexander’s paternal great-great-great grandmother, Anna Mahoney Jones, was one of the 272 slaves sold by two Jesuit priests at Georgetown for about $115,000, or $3.3 million in today’s dollars. She and her two young children were enslaved at a plantation in Ascension Parish, La.

“Now I work here — to realize that this is my history, this is my story, blows me away,” said Mr. Alexander, 45, an executive assistant in Georgetown’s office of technology commercialization. “I have been really emotional as I learned about my ties to the university.”

The journey began with Mr. Alexander’s own digging to find out more about his lineage, to find out more about the ties that bind. He wanted to know more not just for himself, but for his 9-year-old son.

Mr. Alexander had his DNA tested in 2014, along with that of his wife and parents, and worked on a family tree on an ancestry website. But that search ended at the name of his great-grandmother, Anna Jones — the granddaughter of Anna Mahoney Jones.

Read more at the New York Times.

With Trump and DeVos, For-Profits’ Future Looks Bright

looks bright

I just got off the phone with administrators from Bethune-Cookman University, the historically black college in Daytona Beach, Florida. We talked about, among other things, the post I’d written in response to a New York Times article that criticizes Bethune-Cookman’s affiliation with a for-profit law school. Since talking with Bethune-Cookman leadership, I’ve decided to look more closely into the situation.

But, let me say this clearly, first: For-profit colleges and graduate schools, including law schools, are—for the vast majority of people—an unmitigated disaster. Stay away from them like the plague—even if they offer you a full ride. Their degrees are worthless in the marketplace, as studies have shown.

However, they are making some people very wealthy. So, if you want to help the 1% and put yourself in debt, attending a for-profit is definitely the way to go.

 

Trump of Trump University

 

Now that Trump is in the White House, for-profits may be seeing their time in the sun again. After all, Trump had his own predatory for-profit, Trump University, which bilked students out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Before moving to Pennsylvania Avenue, Trump settled out of court to the tune of $25 million. “The suits accused Trump U. of deceiving students by falsely claiming that Trump knew the instructors and that the school was an accredited university,” reports Politico.

Not that accreditation necessarily means that much, even in the nonprofit world, or furthermore, the for-profit world. Yet, with Trump in office and Betsy DeVos hiring officials from the for-profit sector (see below), things are looking very bright, indeed, for these institutions, but not very bright for any who would fall for their false promises, aggressive sales pitches, and amoral manipulations.

I’ve excerpted an opinion piece from the New York Times, titled Predator Colleges May Thrive Againbelow:

Congress has tried since the 1940s to curb predatory for-profit schools that survive almost solely on federal money while they saddle students with crushing loans for useless degrees. As the industry’s scandals grew and its role in the student debt crisis became more excessive, the Obama administration established rules that could get the worst of these programs off the federal dole. But the Education Department under its new secretary, Betsy DeVos, seems ready to undermine those regulations and let predatory schools flourish once again.

The department has hired two high-level officials from the for-profit sector — one of whom has since resigned. The other is from a school, under state and federal investigation, that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fined last year for duping students into taking out costly private loans.

Read more at the New York Times.

How to Make Graduating High School College-Ready the Only Option

college-ready

To me, it doesn’t make sense to have students go to high school, then graduate not ready for college. Even if students opt to go to trade school or join the military, the aim of high school should be to adequately prepare students for their next steps. Graduating fully prepared for college would give students options—no matter where their plans and interests might take them.

At the John R. Rogers High School in Spokane, Washington, school leaders seem to agree and have weeded out courses that didn’t prepare students for anything post-graduation. Its administrators are insisting that kids take Advanced Placement courses, four years of math, and four years of lab science. The entire city of Spokane is overhauling its K-12 curriculum, so kids will do more research and learn better study skills.

Here’s an excerpt from the Hechinger Report‘s article, titled Why Placing Students in Difficult High School Classes May Increase College Enrollment, which is about how these higher standards are unfolding:

 

“Principal Lori Wyborney and her three assistant principals were gathered around a table covered with papers and Popeyes takeout at John R. Rogers High School, two weeks before graduation last spring.

On the screen in front of them was a list of three dozen students who administrators believed could succeed in an AP class. But the students were not yet scheduled to take one in the coming fall. One by one, the principals looked at each student’s profile, which included the student’s answers to district-wide survey questions about what worries them about AP classes, what subjects interest them, and what adults they trust in the building.

Wyborney, sitting, as she often does while concentrating, with her elbows on the table and one hand absentmindedly raised to her mouth, kept up a running commentary. ‘Boy, she’s not taking much next year,’ she said of one student before placing her in AP Digital Photography. Of another: ‘He’s looking at a four-year college. He has got to get into AP English.’

Over and over, she declared ‘I’m on it’ as she scribbled down the names of students she planned to personally track down to talk to about scheduling changes.

The meeting was part of a broad effort across the district to decrease the gap between the number of high-income and low-income students who go to college. In Spokane, 48% of 2014 graduates who received free or reduced-price lunch—a typical indicator of poverty—went on to higher education the following year, compared to 65% of those who didn’t receive subsidized meals, according to state data. Nationally, 52% of low-income high school graduates immediately enrolled in college in 2014, compared to 81% of high-income students.”

 

Read more at the Hechinger Report.

The Education Software That Increases Test Scores

game

The other day, I wrote a post about how two hours of TV viewing decreases the math skills of low-income 5-year-olds, yet has no effect on high-income youngsters watching the same amount of TV. In it, I mentioned how a friend of mine, a New York City public school teacher, surmises that low-income kids have less intellectually stimulating activities in their lives, such as developmentally appropriate toys that foster creative thinking and open-ended problem solving.

Although I’m not a supporter of computer games and have not jumped on the educational tech bandwagon, I did perk up the other day during my interview with Jessie Woolley-Wilson, daughter of a Haitian immigrant father and CEO of DreamBox Learning.

What grabbed my attention? “Wealthy parents knew about this,” Woolley-Wilson told me. “We think it’s important for all parents to know about this program.”

 

DreamBox Learning Math

 

The program Woolley-Wilson is referring to is DreamBox Learning Math, educational software in a gamelike format that teaches kids K-8 math standards in a way that’s engaging and fun. Even Harvard researchers have found that the program increases test scores.

Common Sense Education describes the software as “an interactive, adaptive, self-paced program that provides engaging activities for students to learn and practice skills in mathematics.”

Because it’s adaptive, students can work below or above their grade level. It’s available to parents as well as school districts. Woolley-Wilson sees the program as one way of addressing inequity in the schools.

Here are more of Woolley-Wilson’s thoughts on ways to improve equity in education, excerpted from a white paper she wrote, Educational Equity: Six Ways to Open Opportunity:

 

1. Greater Diversity in All Schools

 

Research shows that socioeconomic integration benefits both low-income and wealthier students. Positive actions [have been] taken by the Obama administration to support school integration by income, but more needs to be done.

 

2. Set Expectations and Standards High

 

We need to improve high school college preparation at scale. This can be accomplished by consciously having teachers’ expectations for all students set high, and to use state and federal policy to improve high schools. High school quality is a key predictor of student success in college.

 

3. Aligning School Achievement With Teacher and Student Success

 

High teacher turnover in low-income schools affects student learning and destabilizes education communities. Ongoing professional development for teachers as well as formative assessment training and use in classrooms improve the experience and achievement of teachers and students.

 

4. Connecting With Broadband and the Innovation It Enables

 

Providing high-speed access in all schools and the ability to learn anytime, anywhere can help us fulfill the promise of education technology to reach every student.

 

For more information, visit the DreamBox website.