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Archive for September 28th, 2011

U.S. Department of Education investigating record number of civil rights complaints in school districts, aims to improve education for minority students

Posted by Admin On September - 28 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

By Nadra Kareem Nittle
America’s Wire

Russlynn Ali, Assistant Secretary for
Civil Rights at U.S. Dept of Education


Washington, DC (BlackNews.com) – The U.S. Department of Education is seeking to improve the quality of education for minority and poor public school students by aggressively launching civil rights investigations aimed at preventing district administrators from providing more services and resources to predominantly white schools.

Faced with public schools more segregated today than in the 1970s, the department is using the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to improve the quality of education for students from minority and low-income backgrounds. The department has outpaced the Bush administration in initiating civil rights probes.

During 33 months under the Obama administration, the department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has launched 30 compliance reviews compared with the 22 begun during the eight-year Bush administration. Investigators determine whether school districts have violated Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.

“The civil rights laws are the most sorely underutilized tool in education reform and closing the achievement gap,” says Russlynn Ali, assistant secretary for civil rights, who has run the department’s OCR since May 2009. She said President Barack Obama has emphasized that he wants the department investigating education-related civil rights violations. “This is the most important civil rights issue of our time,” she says.

Last year, Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced on the 45th anniversary of Bloody Sunday – the day that Alabama state troopers brutalized civil rights activists marching on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma – that the department’s OCR would significantly increase enforcement actions. Duncan acknowledged that over the last 10 years, the office had not aggressively pursued Title 6 investigations to improve the quality of education for minority and poor students.

The OCR received about 7,000 complaints last year, a record for the department. School districts are being investigated for a range of possible violations, including failure to provide minority students with access to college- and career-track courses, not assigning highly qualified teachers to schools with predominantly minority students and disproportionately placing such students in special education courses and suspending minority students.

The OCR has also investigated schools for failing to protect female students of color from sexual violence and not offering access to higher-level math and science courses.

Judith A. Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project in Washington, D.C., which advocates for quality education, acknowledges a significant change in direction for the department’s OCR. Ali served as deputy co-director of the organization from 1999 to 2000.

“For years, we couldn’t rely on the federal government to enforce civil rights law, so now we have an Office for Civil Rights that is finally taking up the torch,” Browne Dianis says. “During the Bush administration, we wouldn’t encourage anyone to file a complaint. The feeling was that even if you filed a complaint, they probably wouldn’t investigate or would say there was no racial discrimination.”

Education Department officials express concern that a wide disparity exists between the achievement level of graduating white and African-American high school students in specific subject areas, such as biology and math.

Data show that white students are six times better prepared than black students for college biology when they graduate from high school. White students are four times as prepared for college algebra as their black counterparts. Furthermore, white high school graduates are twice as likely to have completed Advanced Placement (AP) calculus courses as black or Latino graduates.

Addressing the statistics, Ali says the solution is not “just about adding more courses” but better preparing minority students in these subject areas. The civil rights investigations are forcing improvements.

In South Carolina, the OCR has targeted school districts for concentrating AP courses at majority white high schools, robbing black students of the chance to take college-track courses. Because of the OCR probe, AP classes have become more widely available at majority black high schools.

Ali is also addressing the practice of assigning the least qualified teachers to poor and predominantly minority schools. By forcing school districts to end this practice, she hopes to narrow the achievement gap between whites and students of color, preparing more minority students for academically challenging courses.

The Education Department and education advocates are examining the higher percentage of minority students assigned to special education classes in many districts.

“Special education is another reflection of huge disparities,” says Daniel J. Losen, senior education law and policy associate at The Civil Rights Project at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Losen says school administrators often use subjective criteria to place students in special education programs, resulting in a disproportionate number of minority students being removed from the general classroom setting. Moreover, Ali says the department is evaluating why white and Asian students are overrepresented in gifted and talented programs, while blacks and Latinos are overrepresented in special education classes.

Based on an NAACP complaint, the OCR is investigating the Wake County (N.C.) Public School System for planning to assign students to schools based on their neighborhoods of residence. Critics contend that the plan would kill diversity in the school system and concentrate poor students, effectively resegregating the district.

Ali says “housing patterns and the correlation between race and poverty” also cause resegregation of school districts. “The federal government is working to end that kind of resegregation,” she says. “We’re very much trying to end discrimination no matter where students go to school or who they go to school with, if they go to school with kids who look like them or to an integrated school.”

Owatonna (Minn.) Senior High School is a case in point. The OCR received a complaint that the mostly white school had not acted sufficiently to stop racial harassment of East African students. When racial tension erupted in 2009 and white and Somali students brawled, school officials disciplined the African students more severely.

Due to the OCR investigation, Owatonna Public Schools agreed in April to take measures to prevent Somali students from being bullied. School officials issued an anti-harassment statement to students, parents and staff while training the school community on what constitutes discrimination and harassment, and meeting with Somali students to review their concerns.

The district must also submit annual compliance reviews to the OCR and the U.S. Department of Justice for the next three years. The case is the most recent race-related Title 6 investigation that the OCR has resolved.

The resolution was a coup for the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which filed the complaint on behalf of Owatonna’s largely Muslim Somali population. Many Somali refugees have settled in Minnesota over the past two decades, and the state houses almost 40 percent of all Somalis in the United States.

Taneeza Islam, civil rights director of CAIR-MN, says none of the 30 CAIR chapters nationally had filed such a complaint. “We just took our chances,” she recalls. “I had no idea how many cases they had and what their investigation findings looked like. Thankfully, we picked the right [presidential] administration to work with. The process has been really easy. It surprised us how proactive the investigators were.”

Resolving the complaint took about a year, Islam says. Since the resolution, CAIR has heard no more concerns about treatment of East African students at Owatonna Senior High. CAIR-MN has also filed a complaint to stop reported harassment of Somali students in St. Cloud, Minn. That case, under investigation for 18 months, is pending.

The Owatonna situation exemplifies racial disparities that persist regarding discipline in public schools. For instance, the OCR has reviewed schools in North Carolina’s Winston-Salem/Forsyth County system and Louisiana’s St. James Parish for infringing on civil rights of black students by disciplining them more severely than other students.

“There’s a national trend of students of color being suspended from school for minor actions,” Browne Dianis says. “When we think about discipline, it was originally intended to cover violent acts.” Data show that African-American students without disabilities are more than three times as likely to be expelled as their white peers.

Too often, Browne Dianis says, schools remove minority children from class for minor infractions such as tardiness or talking back to teachers. She adds that in today’s schools, where standardized test scores are emphasized, a child can easily fall behind academically, and the likelihood of dropping out increases. “Once you drop out, the more likely you are to end up in the criminal justice system,” she says.

In 2008, Browne Dianis worked with Baltimore schools on their discipline code to reduce the suspension rate. After the number of student offenses punishable by removal from class was narrowed, the suspension rate plummeted from 26,000 to 9,000 the following year, she says.

John H. Jackson, president and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education, urges the OCR to address racial disparities in several education areas.

Jackson is concerned, for instance, that some local school districts remove unqualified teachers from poor schools but replace them with substitute teachers. He also says states must stop uneven funding of black and white schools.

“Look at how the revenue flows to districts and being based on property taxes, it creates an inherent inequity,” Jackson says. “If you know the process for distributing resources is creating an inequity, there has to be a process that rights it.”

He calls on the Education Department to withhold federal funding to enforce civil rights compliance, a tactic that the federal government used to help integrate public schools in the 1960s and 1970s.

Jackson applauded Ali for her leadership in re-engaging the OCR and examining racial disparities in U.S. education. “These disparities did not begin today,” he says. “They have been here for the last five, 10, 15 years.”

While Ali says the OCR’s aggressive pursuit of civil rights violations is continuing the historic fight for racial justice begun decades ago, she cautions that the current racial opportunity gap could reverse gains of the civil rights movement.

“You can’t give better to some than you do to others,” Ali says. “That’s not equity. That’s a farce. It goes without saying that equity without quality is not equity at all.”

America’s Wire is an independent, non-profit news service run by the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. America’s Wire is made possible by a grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. For more information, visit www.americaswire.org or contact Michael K. Frisby at mike@frisbyassociates.com.

Lessons of Jacksonville Mayor's race could aid President Obama

Posted by Admin On September - 28 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

By Craig Kirby
America’s Wire


Washington, DC (BlackNews.com) — President Barack Obama has seen better days. But it would be a mistake to conclude that he can’t win re-election, despite his dismal poll numbers.

At the moment, the president is quickly discovering that for every foreign and domestic policy issue, there can be a political consequence. In the Middle East, he seeks to craft a policy fair to both sides, but that leads to attacks at home that he has abandoned Israel. He tries to act responsibly and reduce the federal budget deficit, but that looks like “selling out” to many who are in his Democratic base and still reeling from the recession.

Obama’s core political problem, however, results from failure to establish himself as a strong leader, one willing to fight aggressively for what’s best for the country rather than taking his scholarly, deliberate approach. What Americans want is not necessarily a president who is always right but someone who stands and fights for them. They want a gut feeling that the president is on their side, that he understand struggles they face to keep or find jobs, and not to lose the home facing foreclosure.

This president’s decline certainly seems based much more on how people “feel” about their leader than his specific policies. He needs to get out of the White House to Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia and New Mexico. He needs to prove that he is not aloof and understands challenges that millions of Americans, especially those in the heartland, face every day. And, when he’s on the grand stage in Washington, he must be the leader that Americans thought they were electing.

The president can’t make this comeback by himself. He needs a team that understands the pulse of the country. How could his advisers possibly think that unveiling a deficit-cutting plan that results in headlines about tax increases would be a wise political move? Instead, how about a headline saying that the president won’t allow working families to lose their homes to foreclosures and that he vows to continue the federal role in helping Americans purchase homes?

That would be leadership and smart politics.

Republicans shouldn’t start victory celebrations just yet. Election results in Jacksonville, Fla., this spring may have been overlooked in Washington but may be a good barometer for the national electorate.

Florida’s largest city is in a conservative region that traditionally tilts heavily toward the GOP. Yet an African-American, Alvin Brown became the city’s first black mayor by defeating a Tea Party candidate last May. Brown was the first Democrat in 20 years to sit in the Jacksonville mayor’s office.

One can only conclude that extremist positions promoted by the Tea Party were too outrageous for even Jacksonville’s conservative electorate.

The late Lee Atwater, architect of Republican victories in the 1980s, used to court the South assiduously as a GOP electoral base. But at the same time, he would caution privately that a backlash would occur if this powerful base were perceived as driving national policy for the Republican Party, which needed themes that could also win voters in other parts of the country.

Brown’s victory certainly raises questions of whether the GOP’s presidential candidates can run viable general election campaigns after aggressively courting the Tea Party during the party’s nomination process. The scenario seems to mirror presidential politics in the 1980s when Vice President Walter F. Mondale and Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis were dismal general election candidates after wooing liberals to win the Democratic presidential nominations in 1984 and 1988, respectively.

In his mayoral campaign, Brown also won by displaying savvy political skills. These are traits that he surely learned as a close ally of Ronald H. Brown (no relation), the former secretary of commerce and Democratic National Committee chairman who led the party’s rebirth that resulted in Bill Clinton’s presidential victory in 1992. Alvin Brown was seen as more of a centrist than a liberal. He opposed tax increases and gained key financial support from leading Republican fundraisers. He built a broad coalition in Jacksonville, much as Ron Brown had done two decades ago for the Democratic Party.

Most important, Alvin Brown was able to gain support from whites while aggressively energizing a base of African-Americans. In fact, one of the campaign’s strategies was to significantly increase the black turnout, which it accomplished.

Brown also gave voters reasons to like him. He came across as energetic, aggressive and confident yet humble, hardworking and the type of person with values who was at ease joining anyone for a beer, a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

As unusual as it may sound, perhaps the president of the United States could learn lessons about politics and personality from the new mayor of Jacksonville.

Craig Kirby is a Washington-based political consultant, who managed Alvin Brown’s mayoral campaign and was its chief strategist. America’s Wire is an independent, non-profit news service run by the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. For more information, visit www.americaswire.org or contact Michael K. Frisby at mike@frisbyassociates.com.

Madigan conducts mortgage fraud sweep, files four lawsuits against Chicago area mortgage scams

Posted by Admin On September - 28 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS


Illinois Attorney General Joins Multi-Agency Task Force to Crack Down on Foreclosure “Rescue” and Consumer Debt Schemes


Chicago, IL — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan today filed lawsuits against four Chicago area companies and licensed attorneys for operating fraudulent mortgage rescue or loan modification schemes that illegally charged consumers as much as $375,000 for little, if any, help to stay in their homes and avoid foreclosure.

Madigan’s actions are part of a multi-agency effort to crack down on a growing number of Illinois attorneys and loan modification operators who illegally exploit a provision in the 2006 Mortgage Rescue Fraud Act that allows lawyers to collect upfront fees from homeowners for mortgage rescue services in the course of legitimate legal work. While the businesses use attorneys as the face of their operations in order to charge upfront fees, in reality the attorneys performed no legal work on behalf of homeowners. Madigan said their failure to provide legal services left consumers at an even greater risk of losing their homes to foreclosure.

“By now, we’ve all seen the ads from so-called ‘loan mod consultants’ or ‘mortgage rescuers,’ claiming they’ll save your house from foreclosure,” Attorney General Madigan said. “Please know these operations are run by con artists who have started to use attorneys as sham fronts. These operators are scamming families out of thousands of dollars and actually making foreclosure more likely.”

The Attorney General filed suit today in Cook County Circuit Court against ZeTrust Legal Services, of Chicago; Legal Modification Network LLC, based in Woodridge; Loan Litigators International LLC, a now defunct company that operated out of Lombard; and Exelpol Management & Consulting Inc, a dissolved corporation based in Schaumburg.

The Attorney General has formed a task force with a number of local, state and federal agencies to target this emerging trend among lawyers: The Federal Trade Commission, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, the City of Chicago and the Better Business Bureau.

As part of the task force efforts, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office today filed a similar lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against an Arlington Heights-based loan modification and debt settlement company, Legal Housing and Debt Advisor LLC, along with Jason Tong, its managing member and principal owner. The suit alleges Tong’s company solicited struggling homeowners and offered to have an attorney negotiate with their lender to obtain a lower monthly payment. Tong is alleged to have collected upfront fees of $1,000 each from multiple victims without providing the promised legal services or reducing their mortgage payments.

State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez thanked Attorney General Madigan for her partnership and said her office remains committed to attacking the systemic problem of mortgage fraud at all levels.

“During these difficult economic times, many homeowners are looking for help with refinancing their high interest mortgages, restructuring their upside down mortgages, or they may be facing foreclosure,” Alvarez said. “Increasingly we are seeing corrupt individuals attempt to take advantage of a person’s desperate housing situation and that is something that we will continue to investigate and crack down on utilizing all possible legal remedies.”

Task force member Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has investigated almost 200 companies since December 2009, for illegal or unlicensed activities involving loan modifications and other financial transactions, leading to fines in excess of $600,000. Several cases involved attorneys who were not licensed as mortgage professionals, including the Crawford Law Group and John Crawford, a California attorney who offered an Illinois customer an unsolicited mortgage. Crawford has since been prohibited from practicing law in his home state.

In her lawsuits filed today, Madigan said ZeTrust and its owner, attorney Daniel Scott, marketed loan modification services almost exclusively to consumers in Chicago area Polish communities. Not only did ZeTrust fail to assist consumers in obtaining modifications, but homeowners never even met with an attorney, including Scott. Twenty-one homeowners reported losing more than $24,000 in the scheme.

Legal Modification Network and the Law Offices of Matthew Wildermuth charged at least 21 homeowners living in Will and Cook counties more than $32,000 for services – between $3,000 and $5,000 each – for a loan modification obtained by an attorney that never materialized.

Loan Litigators International and the Law Offices of Michael Fleck, Joseph Aldeguer and Michael Fleck advertised on radio stations that Fleck would represent consumers directly, and the business could provide homeowners a modification in 45 to 60 days. One consumer paid nearly $1,500 for a loan modification and the promise to delay the foreclosure proceeding on his home. The consumer eventually lost his home, yet Loan Litigators International still kept the fees they had charged him.

In her case against Exelpol, Madigan alleges one consumer was charged nearly $1,900 with the promise of obtaining a loan modification, but discovered later the modification was denied because the business failed to submit the right paperwork. The lawsuit was additionally filed against Exelpol employees: Alicja Lapinski, its president; Sam Lapinski, an employee; and Robert Phillip Ward and Anthony P. Montegna, licensed attorneys working with Exelpol.

The Attorney General’s lawsuits ask the court to shut down the businesses and obtain restitution for at least 76 consumers who have so far reported being victimized. The lawsuits also seek to bar the defendants from providing mortgage rescue services in Illinois and to order each defendant to pay a civil penalty of $50,000 and additional penalties of $50,000 for each act committed with intent to defraud.

To date, Attorney General Madigan has filed 46 lawsuits over the illegal collection of upfront fees by mortgage rescue operations. Madigan urges homeowners struggling to stay in their homes to contact her Homeowner Helpline, (866) 544-7151, for guidance on avoiding foreclosure and to seek help from a HUD-certified housing counselor to work out a solution with their lenders.

Assistant Attorneys General E. Paige Boggs, Andrew Dougherty, Vivian Velasco Paz and Vijay Raghavan are handling the cases for Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Bureau.

Illinois State Senators Garrett and Schoenberg endorse Democrat Brad Schneider for Congress (IL-10)

Posted by Admin On September - 28 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Northbrook, IL – Earning the endorsement of two respected State Senators, Democratic Congressional Candidate Brad Schneider continues to emerge as the frontrunner in the March primary for Illinois’ Tenth District.  Longtime leaders Senators Susan Garrett and Jeff Schoenberg both announced their support for Schneider.

“Brad’s energy, business experience, and commitment to the values of the Tenth District residents are what we need in Congress, now more than ever,” said Garrett. “I am confident that Brad’s voice in Washington will be our voice and that our priorities are his priorities.”

“The Tenth District needs Democratic priorities in Congress.  Brad understands that we must grow our economy, continue to invest in our future, and also preserve key safety-net programs for people today and generations to come,” said Schoenberg.  “We must replace the slash and burn proposals of the extreme right with the kind of ideas and collaborative solutions Brad brings,” continued Schoenberg, contrasting Schneider to incumbent Republican Robert Dold who has stood consistently with extreme Republicans including voting to end Medicare and defund Planned Parenthood.

The Tenth District is widely viewed as a solid pick-up opportunity for Democrats.  Under the new congressional map, the district shed critical Republican-leaning jurisdictions and now encompasses more liberal areas.  Schneider is well-positioned to unseat Dold, who, despite a Republican tidal wave in 2010, barely eked out a win.

“Democrats need to win this race, and I am honored that Senators Garrett and Schoenberg have placed their confidence in my campaign,” said Schneider.  “I am working every single day to win the trust of voters across this district, because we need responsible leadership that reflects the needs and values of the hard-working families of the Tenth District.”

NNPA-Nielsen Black Consumer Report Seen as new empowerment tool

Posted by Admin On September - 28 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

 NNPA Chairman Cloves Campbell says new report will empower African-Americans


By Hazel Trice Edney


(TriceEdneyWire.com) – By the year 2015, African-Americans will be spending $1.1 trillion a year on products and services.

Currently, the Black population in the U.S. has a buying power of nearly $1 trillion – a figure larger than the gross domestic product of most countries in the world.

The number of African-American households earning $75,000 or more has grown by 63.9 percent in the last decade, a rate greater than that of the overall population.  

African-Americans shop more often than all other groups, but spend less money per trip because they make quicker/smaller purchases based on short-term needs.

These are just a few of the facts pulled from a new report compiled by the 71-year-old National Newspaper Publishers Association, known as the Black Press of America, and The Nielsen Company, a global monitor of media, marketing and consumer information.

NNPA leaders say the report, released Sept. 22, will generally empower African-Americans with the knowledge of their worth. But it will also empower Black newspapers with a new weapon – credible information about the power of Black consumers – to defeat advertising discrimination.

“Every time we go and talk to advertisers, including Fortune 500 Companies, there’s always the possibility that they will ask us, ‘Where did you get your information? How do you claim these numbers?'” says NNPA Chairman Cloves Campbell, publisher of the Arizona Informant. “Now we have a partner – a legitimate partner in Nielsen – that can say, ‘Hey, these numbers came from us.’ This is a legitimate firm that does business across the world and now we have a partner that can legitimize all the things we talk about when we talk about African-American consumers.”

The 19-page report, “The State of the African-American Consumer”, was released during a conference at the National Press Club.

NNPA, a federation of more than 200 Black-owned newspapers around the country, has long battled bias against the Black Press – in part – because of the undocumented spending power Black newspaper readers.

Now that the documentation is complete, Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, senior vice president of Public Affairs at The Nielsen Company, says it can be used for Black newspapers as well as other Black institutions.

“This report really is a valuable piece of communication that I am so hopeful that your companies, your organizations, your businesses will be able to utilize to help tell the African-American consumer story,” Pearson-McNeil told the standing room only audience at the press conference. Among those present were NNPA publishers, corporate and advertising executives as well as representatives of the civil rights and legal communities.

“This is going to have a tremendous rippling affect. The bottom line is that at the end of the day, we want to hold people accountable,” said Danny Bakewell, former NNPA chairman who initiated the Nielsen-NNPA partnership that led to the study. “We spend our money. We expect you to be a good corporate citizen and return a fair share to our community at all levels. If we represent 25 percent of your market share, it’s not unreasonable for us to ask for 25 percent return to our community.”

Campbell says he sees the report working in three ways for the average Black citizen:

“One, making them more aware of what their buying and purchasing power is. Two, giving them an opportunity to understand all the products that they use and all the services that they spend money on. And three, giving them the opportunity to empower themselves, to be more assertive when they go to spend their dollars, and make sure that people understand and respect the fact that we come to your stores, we spend our dollars, we make sure that your businesses are in business and so it’s an overall affect that happens from it.”

Bakewell agreed with Pearson-McNeil that the report will be used by various organizations for diverse purposes. For example, he said it will also be given as a tool to members of the Congressional Black Caucus and civil rights leaders.  

But, mostly it is viewed as the ultimate Nielsen-confirmed evidence that Black corporations have downplayed the value of the Black dollar – evidence that can now be used as leverage.

“What it will do is substantiate in the minds of Black people the power that we have based on the money that we’re spending and specifically allow us to direct our recognition to certain companies that we’re spending our money with,” said Bakewell, publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel. “And when those companies recognize the kind of buying power that we have, it then gives us more influence with those companies. And of course the reverse of that is that to the extent that they’re not supporting our communities, then why should we be supporting them?”

Michael Porter calls on teams to leave CSR behind and move forward to ‘creating shared value’ at Beyond Sport United

Posted by Admin On September - 28 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

In the opening address to an audience made up of some of sport’s most influential figures gathered for Beyond Sport United at Yankee Stadium, Michael Porter, the Bishop William Lawrence University Professor at Harvard Business School, set out a vision of the future for the engagement of sport teams – and the entire business world – in their communities.

Professor Porter pointed to the long history that sport teams have of supporting their communities, but called on more than 250 influential figures in the audience to move beyond philanthropy and corporate social responsibility to what he describes as ‘Creating Shared Value’ (CSV) – policies and practices that enhance a team or a league’s success as a business while simultaneously advancing social and economic conditions in the communities in which it operates. CSV, Professor Porter explained, integrates community benefit into an organisation’s core business agenda.

Professor Porter urged his audience, which included NFL team owners, the presidents of franchises from across the US major leagues and representatives of some of the Premier League’s top clubs amongst many other global representatives, to work to fix the “growing disconnect between success in business and success in the community.”

He commented: “Businesses can drive important, substantial societal improvement while actually making their business better and, in many cases, more profitable. And when I say this, I just know what some of you are thinking – ‘if I am making money doing something, that can’t be socially responsible. If I am making money doing something, that is not as worthy as giving or donating money.’ Get that idea out of your mind. If you can turn your core business into something that directly drives social progress, that’s the highest impact of all.”

“This industry can be a role model for all others,” Professor Porter insisted.

The potential for that was underlined by the presence of some of the most influential figures in that industry at Yankee Stadium. Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA); the National Football League (NFL); the National Hockey League (NHL); Major League Soccer (MLS); and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) are all signed on as Founding Supporters of Beyond Sport United – the first time the major US sports leagues have collaborated around the issue of sport and social change.

Sports Illustrated has backed the initiative as Official Media Partner.

Beyond Sport United is also partnered with secondary ticketing pioneers StubHub, executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles and United who have lent their substantial support to this unique event.

The Beyond Sport Summit and Awards 2011 will take place in Cape Town, South Africa from December 5-8.

For more information on Beyond Sport, log on to www.beyondsport.org

Major League Commissioners gather at Beyond Sport United and commit to unity in quest for social change

Posted by Admin On September - 28 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS


The Commissioners of the US major leagues came together to showcase their commitment to the use of sport as a tool for social change, co-signing a unique letter declaring a ‘collective commitment to this focused aim’ and taking to the stage as a group to address more than 250 influential figures gathered at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday 27th September for Beyond Sport United.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, MLS Commissioner Don Garber, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and NBA and WNBA Commissioner David Stern co-signed the letter, which acknowledged their leagues’ and teams’ place as the cultural heartbeats of their respective communities and vowed to tackle the ‘significant responsibilities’ that come with that proud and influential position.

Commissioners Bettman, Garber and Goodell then took to the stage at Beyond Sport United for an unprecedented Commissioners’ Roundtable discussion. The panel was not just a typical discussion about the world of professional sport, but an insightful conversation about a wide range of socio-political, economic, and global business issues, and an attempt to answer the question of how sport can play a role in addressing them.

That question was particularly important given the audience for the session, which was made up of some of sport’s most influential figures – including NFL team owners, the presidents of franchises from across the US major leagues and representatives of some of the Premier League’s top clubs – those groups contributing to a total of more than 80 teams from across the world.

Commented Commissioner Goodell: “When you have a certain amount of success, or are fortunate enough to be involved in professional sports, you have a responsibility back to your community, and to your fans. And they want to know, if they’re going to invest their time and their money in your league, that you are taking responsibility. ”

Commented Commissioner Garber: “With us, like all the leagues, it’s very much about health and wellness, and we’ve got all sorts of in-school programmes. One is called Active Bodies Active Minds – we’ve hooked up with an educator from Tufts University who wrote the curriculum, and we get out into the schools to educate kids in doing the right thing with regards to health and wellness. That’s in a big bucket – and we have other programmes in that bucket, like the other leagues.”

Commented Commissioner Bettman: “All these programmes are designed to make a difference in somebody’s life – kids, adults, people whose lives have been impacted by a particular programme which would not have been possible without using sport as a vehicle. And to me I think that’s more important than picking any one cause and saying we’re going to change the world. I think if we can impact some people’s lives one-on-one, that’s as important as anything else.”

Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA); the National Football League (NFL); the National Hockey League (NHL); Major League Soccer (MLS); and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) are all signed on as Founding Supporters of Beyond Sport United – the first time the major US sports leagues have collaborated around the issue of sport and social change.

Sports Illustrated has backed the initiative as Official Media Partner.

Beyond Sport United is also partnered with secondary ticketing pioneers StubHub, executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles and United who have lent their substantial support to this unique event.

The Beyond Sport Summit and Awards 2011 will take place in Cape Town, South Africa from December 5-8.

For more information on Beyond Sport, log on to www.beyondsport.org

PETAL et al. to hold Free Exploratory Workshops to Train and Inform the Underrepresented about the Multi-billion-dollar Video Game and Mobile Applications Industry

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On September - 28 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Two-Week Workshops to be held in South Holland, Illinois and Chicago, Illinois

“We want to help diversify the video game and mobile applications industry with serious applicants who want to pursue their goal in the industry but lack the viable resources to do so.” – Pamela McMillan, President and CEO, PETAL et al.

Concerned about a lack of diversity in the multibillion-dollar Video Game and Mobile Applications Industry, PETAL et al., a not-for-profit organization, is making steps to train serious applicants about the industry through four exploratory and training workshops, scheduled for October and November 2011. The training sessions are free and open to the public. Participants must be 17 years of age and older to participate in these exploratory workshops. They must be 18 years of age and older to register for PETAL et al.’s four-month, project-based Summer Boot Camp, TBA.

PETAL et al. will teach two, eight-hour workshops on Introduction to Video Game Design and Development. One of the sessions, Part One and Part Two (must take both), will be held October 1st and 8th, at the South Holland Library, 16250 Wausau Ave., South Holland, IL, Noon to 4 p.m. The other training session (must take both) will be held at Avalon Public Library, 8148 S. Stony Island Ave., Chicago, IL, October 22nd and October 29th, Noon to 4 p.m.

For those who are interested in the video game industry, who like to write, draw, program and come up with video game ideas, PETAL et al.’s training sessions will introduce an overview of ideas, skills and education necessary to get into the industry. All participants must register prior to the event on PETAL et al. Website: training.petaletal.org.

The sessions are as follows:

Introduction to Video Game Design and Development (8 hours) Presented by PETAL et al..

Session 1: Saturdays, October 1 and 8, 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (South Holland, IL)
Session 2: Saturdays, October 22 and 29, 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Chicago, IL)

Notepad/sketchpad and something to write and draw with
Optional (But useful): Laptop

Ages: 17-Adult

Pamela McMillan, President & CEO of PETAL et al., will teach Introduction to Video Game Design & Development; Clarence McMillan, PETAL et al.’s Chief technology officer, will teach Conceptual Art and Story Boarding; Juanita Bratcher, Publisher of CopyLine Magazine and Author of several books, will teach Script Writing; Nitin Khare, Michele McMillan, and Anand Rao, some of the top notch local Programmers in Chicago, will be on hand to share their expertise with participants. Samuel Piazza, musician and sound engineer will be discussing music and sound effects for video games.

Pamela McMillan emphasized the need to raise awareness about developments in the video game and mobile applications industry. She said video games and apps are not just for entertainment but also educational.

“Education and training will certainly help,” said McMillan. “There are people making money online with video games & mobile applications (apps), and some aren’t aware as to how to do this. Overall, there’s a lack of diversity in the industry and we’re missing out on diversity.”

It’s projected that the Video Game and Mobile Applications Industry has a ‘bright outlook, McMillan added. “And certainly, we should know all cultures and experiences. It would be just as beneficial to have video game development skills in addition to web animation and design skills because many corporations will eventually be looking for people with this type of training. They will be looking for entertaining ways to inform, train and educate.”

PETAL et al.’s Boot Camp Training curriculum, which includes design, development, project management, leadership and marketing, will give participants the skills and education needed to get started in the Video Game and/or Mobile Applications Industry.

Clarence McMillan, PETAL et al.’s Chief Technology Officer, said the Video Game Design & Development Workshops, sponsored by PETAL et al., will focus on and introduces technology behind many of today’s video games to users of this medium that are underrepresented in its making and creation.”

Clarence McMillan will teach a segment of Conceptual Art and storyboarding using both traditional and digital media. He said the first step in making a video game is to create believable characters and the world and objects that they share the stage with.

“Along with character and object development the students will be shown the basics of using an art tablet and pen to draw and paint their creations digitally. It is imperative that we keep up with technology and prepare those with career goals to be in the industry for the ever-changing world of the future,” Clarence McMillan said.

Creating a video game or mobile app can be fun. They can be from simple to complex, and anyone can make one if they are willing to put in the time, Pamela McMillan added. She said potential participants can post questions on PETAL et al.’s forums/bulletin boards to a community of people where anyone that has an account on their site can post a question or share a project. People participating on the site or even PETAL et al.’s staff can answer questions. They can collaborate on projects, they can network, and can exchange knowledge on things that they know.

Studies have shown that the video game industry’s makeup is about 2% minorities. From Pamela McMillan’s perspective, she said it appears that minorities don’t see working in the field as a viable way to make income or think it’s for kids; and that those who graduate from programs find it highly competitive because they often limit the market in which they search for jobs. Instead, they should think outside of the box for other opportunities that may be available to utilize those skills like simulation training, classroom and job training, advertising or even consider creating their own opportunities.

“They don’t see themselves in that field and getting those kinds of jobs. They think they have to work for big video game companies such as Sony and Epic. But gaming is not just for entertainment; it can be for education and training. Of course, training is the first step, that’s the introduction. We will try to get them in Boot Camp training. But they’ll have to commit to five days a week, eight hours a day. And when it’s done, they will have completed a video game by commercial standards; that depends on them,” said Pamela McMillan.

All participants in the Boot Camp training program must pass an aptitude test. They should have a high school diploma but McMillan will consider those working on a GED. There are many aspects to developing a video game – script writing, a project manager who oversees the video game development from start to finish, making sure everything is done on time; a producer, programmers, artists, designer, production staff, and sound engineers, among others.

For more information, telephone (773) 375-8127 or e-mail: info@petaletal.org

About PETAL et al.

PETAL et al. is a non-profit organization, the first of its kind that provides skills development and leadership training to those not having the know-how or available resources to pursue their career goals in the entertainment technology arts industry. Our goal is to provide  those not having the know-how or available resources and those who have career goals and a passionate interest in the field with mentoring services, world class trainers, industry insiders and experts with expertise and track records in the industry.

The mission of PETAL et al., is to provide training, mentorship and leadership skills for those not having the know-how or available resources to pursue their career goals in the Video Game and Mobile Applications industry. Our focus is on job skills development, portfolio enhancement and networking to help resolve the low representation of those not having the know-how or available resources to pursue their career goals in the field and increase their potential for employment in the industry by creating bridges. We will do this by working with industry leaders, educators, organizations and corporations for the development of programs to make jobs in the industry tangible.

The vision of PETAL et al. and its founder is to inspire entertainment technology artists to push creativity, passion and their skills to the limit whereas prospective employers keep an eye out for talent coming out of the program.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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