OCTAE Newsletter

June 2, 2016

White House Launches New $100 Million Competition to Expand America’s Promise Grant Program

This past April, the White House launched a $100 million America’s Promise Job-Driven Training Grant competition to expand tuition-free community college programs that connect students to in-demand jobs. This new program builds on the administration’s previous investments in students and the workforce. 

America’s network of 1,100 community colleges stands as a pillar of our nation’s postsecondary education and training system. These institutions serve more than 7 million undergraduates, many of which, according to the announcement give “older, low- or moderate-income, minority, first-generation, and rural Americans an opportunity to earn a quality, affordable degree or credential that meet the demands of a competitive global economy.” With this in mind, and through this program, communities have an opportunity to take action to develop plans “to make two years of community college free for responsible students, letting students earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree and the skills needed in the workforce at no cost.” 

America’s Promise grants will help communities across the nation to offer more youths and adults the ability to pursue their education and career goals—especially in high-growth sectors, such as technology, manufacturing, and health care. 

To learn more, please click on the White House fact sheet link above, which also includes a full breakdown of investments in community colleges, by state.

Federal Agencies Release Joint Career Pathways Letter

Twelve federal agencies recently signed a joint letter marking an historic effort to align policies and technical assistance in order to support career pathways approaches in every community across the nation. The letter details the focus, commitment, and steps that the federal government is taking—through collective definitions and goals for career pathways systems— toward removing obstacles for states and local areas to streamline programs and services. This will make it easier for individuals, including those with significant disabilities, to succeed in attaining their career goals. 

The letter underscores the fact that in working together, “state and community partners can create career pathway systems with on-ramps, bridges, and stackable credentials, to help close the gap between vacancies and the numbers of under- and unemployed youth and adults eager to get to work.” 

All interested entities and stakeholders are encouraged to read the full letter to learn more about this landmark move, including information on other steps that federal agencies are taking to incorporate career pathways approaches into a wide range of program investments, evaluation and research activities, and technical assistance efforts. 

My Brother’s Keeper 2016 Status Report

In April, the White House released My Brother’s Keeper 2016 Progress Report (https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/images/MBK-2016-Progress-Report.pdf), a report on the second year of the My Brother’s Keeper program. The initiative, an integrated federal effort, addresses persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color in order to enable them to reach their full potential.   

Over the past two years, approximately 250 communities in all 50 states have signed on to the My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge. More than $600 million in private sector and philanthropic grants and in-kind contributions and $1 billion in low-interest financing are supporting the cause. In addition, federal policy initiatives, grant opportunities, and guidance are being put in place to provide a pathway to success from birth to college and career. 

The My Brother’s Keeper Task Force supports efforts organized around key life milestones that can predict positive outcomes as children mature into adults. These are (1) entering school prepared to learn, (2) reading at grade level by third grade, (3) being college- and career-ready upon graduation from high school, (4) completing postsecondary education or training, (5) successfully entering into the workforce, and (6) reducing violence and enabling a second chance for youths involved with the justice system. 

This second-year report tracks the progress achieved in the past year toward making a measureable difference in the lives of youths. This progress is categorized into three interdependent priorities:  (1) engaging states and local communities; (2) increasing the participation of businesses, philanthropic organizations, and nonprofits in helping youths meet the milestones that predict success in life; and (3) reviewing and reforming public policy initiatives associated with this effort. The report provides detailed examples of progress in each category. 

The report concludes by highlighting the importance of My Brother’s Keeper.  It shows that the initiative is deeply engaged in reducing barriers to opportunity for disadvantaged youths, regardless of their backgrounds or circumstances.  The initiative has a sense of urgency about identifying and investing in “effective strategies” according to the best available evidence and addressing discrimination wherever it appears.  The report illustrates that after two years, My Brother’s Keeper is providing “momentum, energy, and enthusiasm all across the country.”  Further, it is “fully expect(ed) that the positive outcomes and successes of the many collaborative partnerships and policy changes” identified in the report will become “more visible and impactful in the coming years.” 

May Was Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

Last month was Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.  In 1978, Congress established Asian/Pacific Heritage Week, and in 1992, Congress expanded the observance to a month-long celebration.  OCTAE Connection is taking this opportunity to recognize the successes of this diverse group of Americans, as well as the challenges that continue to face some of their communities.  Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs) often are considered to be “model minorities” who have achieved extraordinary success in the United States.  But this does not tell the whole story, as this designation masks the diverse backgrounds and situations of individual communities within the larger grouping.  The AANHPI population is made up of immigrants or their descendants from dozens of countries in the Far East, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent, and each group has a unique history, culture, language, and pathway to America.  The status of Asian Americans in the United States is complicated by the fact that this population has a very high rate of marriage outside the Asian community.  The following information is drawn primarily from data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau (http://www.census.gov/about/partners/cic/resources/data-links/asian.html).

According to the 2014 census estimate, there were an estimated 20.3 million U.S. residents who were Asian of either one race (designated hereafter as Asian American) or in combination with one or more additional races.  Of the Asian Americans, Asians of Chinese descent, except Taiwanese, were the largest group (4.5 million), followed by Filipinos (3.8 million), Asian Indians (3.8 million), Vietnamese (2.0 million), Koreans (1.8 million), and Japanese (1.4 million).  These numbers encompass the number of people who reported a specific detailed Asian group alone, as well as people who reported that detailed Asian group in combination with one or more other detailed Asian groups or another race(s).

As already noted, these are very diverse groupings across a variety of dimensions.  For example, the median income of households headed by Asians alone or in combination in 2014 was $72,689.  At the top of the distribution were Asian Indians, with a median household income of $101,591, while Bangladeshis had a median household income of $44,512.  For the Asian alone or in combination population, in 2014 the poverty rate was 12.5 percent.

Of the Asian alone or in combination population, as of 2014, 86.8 percent of those ages 25 and above held a high school diploma.  This compares with 86.9 percent of the U.S. population as a whole.  In sharp contrast with the high school graduation comparison, 50.6 percent of the Asian alone or in combination population aged 25 and above held a bachelor’s degree or higher, as compared with 30.1 percent for this age group in the American population as a whole.  At the graduate level, the achievement of the Asian alone or in combination population is even more remarkable.  Almost twice as high a percentage of Asians alone or in combination (21.2 percent) held graduate or professional degrees when compared with 11.4 percent of the American population as a whole (25 years of age of older).

As of the 2014 estimates, there were an estimated 1.5 million U.S. residents who were Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, either alone or in combination with one or more additional races. 

The Native Hawaiian population (555,208) was the largest of the NHPI groupings, followed by Samoans (194,564) and the Guamanian or Chamorro grouping (133,569).  These figures include those of the NHPI group alone, as well as people who reported that detailed NHPI group in combination with one or more other detailed NHPI groups or other race(s).   The median household income for households headed by Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders alone or in combination in 2014 was $55,296.  The poverty rate was 18.4 percent for the NHPI population alone or in combination.

Among NHPIs alone or in combination aged 25 and above, 88 percent had a high school diploma or postsecondary education.  However, only 20.9 percent of NHPIs had a bachelor’s degree compared with 30.1 percent of the U.S. population as a whole.  Among this group, the contrast at the graduate or professional degree level is even sharper, with only 6.6 percent of NHPIs alone or in combination achieving this level of education attainment compared with 11.4 percent of the U.S. population as a whole. 

This data demonstrates that Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Other Pacific Islanders are not a monolithic community.  That said, for many demographic and statistical purposes, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Other Pacific Islanders frequently are treated as a homogeneous group.  A large amount of data has been obtained on this collectivity.  Those interested in the outcomes of this collectivity (with a few exceptions where Asian Americans and NHPIs are discussed separately), especially as they relate to education attainment, will find a wealth of interesting information in the most recent edition of The Condition of Education (https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2015144).

ED Releases Beyond the Box Resource Guide to Help Justice-Involved Individuals Achieve Higher Education

On Monday, May 9, the U.S. Department of Education urged America’s colleges and universities to remove barriers that could prevent the estimated 70 million citizens with criminal records from pursuing higher education. This includes the elimination of inquiring early in the application process whether prospective students have ever been arrested. The Department made the recommendation in a new resource guide, Beyond the Box: Increasing Access to Higher Education for Justice-Involved Individuals, which encourages alternatives to inquiring about criminal histories during the college admissions process and provides recommendations to support a holistic review of applicants. Secretary King also issued an accompanying cover letter. 

Evidence suggests that requesting criminal justice information may deter potentially well-qualified applicants from enrolling in postsecondary education and training. Furthermore, research suggests that colleges and universities that admit students with a criminal justice history have no greater crime than those that do not. 

Beyond the Box includes a variety of recommendations on how institutions might consider campus safety and applicants’ criminal justice history without unduly discouraging or rejecting otherwise qualified candidates.  

This fact sheet provides additional information about the Beyond the Box guide, and all materials related to this announcement are available at www.ed.gov/beyondthebox.