February , 2019

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Archive for March 26th, 2013

Classrooms First legislation overwhelmingly passes House of Representatives

Posted by Newsroom On March - 26 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

CARBONDALE, IL – Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon applauded the House of Representatives for passing Classrooms First Commission legislation that will make it easier for school districts to voluntarily consolidate. House Bill 2267, sponsored by Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria), passed with a strong vote of 106-3 and now moves to the Senate for consideration

Simon, the state’s point person on education reform, chaired the bipartisan Classrooms First Commission, which examined ways to help school districts reduce duplicative spending and improve educational offerings. The resulting legislation approved by the House would allow non-contiguous school districts to consolidate, for faster reorganizations in some qualifying districts and high school districts to tie consolidation dates to capital funding.

“It is important that school districts throughout the state have the tools they need in order to help students succeed. This legislation will put our students – not bureaucracy – first,” said Simon. “I would like to thank Rep. Gordon-Booth for her leadership in moving this bill through the House, and I look forward to working with Sen. Andy Manar and members of the Senate to send this bill to the governor’s desk.”

The Classrooms First Commission was comprised of P-20 stakeholders including teachers, administrators, legislators and parents, and it held public hearings across the state on school district consolidation last year. You can learn more about the commission’s recommendations here.

Story-Telling Icon Alex Haley told author “…Your story begins where ‘Roots’ ended”

Posted by Newsroom On March - 26 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

“The Battle of a Daytime Nightmare” by Dr. Thelma Battle-Buckner

It took the now 80-year-old Thelma Battle-Buckner over 27 years and numerous travels back to the Southlands of Mississippi to pen her family’s history-rich story, finally bringing a sense of near closure to the daytime nightmare with which she had suffered since the age of twelve.

“Thelma, it takes a long time to find the truth and tell it. Don’t stop. Finish the book because it sounds like your story starts where ‘Roots’ ended.” — Alex Haley, January 1992

NATIONWIDE: Thelma Battle-Buckner has chronicled a rich and arresting family history in her forthcoming literary offering, “The Battle of a Daytime Nightmare,” which is due out April 26, 2013, the author’s 81st birthday. She stitches together, brilliantly, a dazzling tapestry of her family’s will to overcome whatever obstacles life’s circumstance placed before it. The Battle of a Daytime Nightmare is a breathtaking account of Dr. Buckner and her family’s journey from 1830 ’til now–with a surprising connection to one of today’s corporate giants. Her narrative exemplifies unity. It is rife with pleasant and stormy unpleasant surprises. It is penned in the plain and poetic speech, style and spirit of her culture. In some ways, the Battle-Buckner story amounts to a sharply focused snapshot of the travails of Black America, of “Making way out of no way.” The substance of her life flows broad and low like a good Sunday morning sermon; it speaks of work, ties, struggle, joys, victory,

religion, music and undying love, not only not only for her family, but for humans at large.

“During the early spring of 1987, after twenty years of research for this story, I had the great pleasure of meeting Alex Haley in the Twin Cities. We met twice total; once at the Channel 5 TV station. While we were in the green room, we talked about my research. I asked him if he thought I was taking too long. He said, “No, it takes a long time to find the truth and tell it.”

We met again in January 1992 at the Hilton Hotel, when he was the speaker for an Urban League breakfast, about three weeks before his death. As he was signing his name on my printed program, he stopped to look at me and said, “I remember you from Channel 5 TV. Don’t stop. Finish the book because it sounds like your story starts where ‘Roots’ ended.” So, I was determined to complete the research.

I am not angry with anyone. I just continue to become uneasy when I talk about this situation of what happened to my parents on my 12th birthday.”

The saga is of a family of sharecroppers (often unpaid) and landowners; of dreamers and leaders who were motivated by a driving spirit to become something better than they were at the moment. Today, the Battle-Buckner clan spans across America, from Mississippi, Alabama and other southern locals to Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota and places beyond. The family’s kinship network through marriages and great migrations is astounding. There may be as many as 300 identifiable family members in Minnesota alone.

Richly inspired by Battle-Buckner’s very touching, historically-relevant story, Beverly Black Johnson, founder of Gumbo for the Soul Publications, decided to dedicate a special book series, ‘Voices of Wisdom,’ to stories that can only be told by a seasoned generation of history tellers–80 years of age and beyond.

“Dr. Thelma Battle-Buckner’s life’s work and ministry should be revered as one of a pioneer likened to Harriet Tubman. Her EPIC journey–above and beyond this book–is phenomenal,” Johnson commented. “The Battle of a Daytime Nightmare” rips apart the fabric of America at its very seam. Once you read this book you will never be the same!”

Bruce George (Peabody and Tony Award-winner), co-founder of Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam on HBO is Director of Business Development for Gumbo for the Soul International. He is the catalyst and producer behind this first assimilation of the new Gumbo for the Soul International ‘Voices of Wisdom,’ book series: “The Battle of a Daytime Nightmare.”

George commented, “Dr. Thelma Battle-Buckner epitomizes what it is to turn one’s struggle into a rallying-cry towards social activism. Her book “The Battle of a Daytime Nightmare” is a historical window into her plight and triumph.

The Battle of a Daytime Nightmare by Thelma Battle-Buckner
Gumbo for the Soul International, ISBN: 978-0-9790479-8-5

April 2013, paperback, 300 pp, non-fiction, $25.00, [hardcover/E-book coming soon]
Book cover visual concept by Beverly Black Johnson, edited by: Gift’d Ink
Foreword by: Mahmoud El-Kati, Community Scholar & Activist

Professor Emeritus, Macalester College

Pre-order available for the first 200 copies only, numbered and signed by the author $25.00 + USPS S/H- Packing $6.95 each

USPS mail: Mail cashier’s check or money order (no personal checks) payable to:
Dr. Thelma Battle-Buckner | P.O. Box 4547 | St. Paul, MN 55104

Secure online credit card ordering is available via www.thelmabattlebuckner.com


Thelma Battle-Buckner

Although there is no legal documentation (recorded birth certificate), Thelma Battle-Buckner is the ninth of 13 children born to Nathan and Bessie Battle, in the Deep South. She graduated from high school in 1949; married in December, 1950; then moved to Minnesota in 1952.

As a professional singer, she was a member of the Premiers Gospel Singers (Saint Paul, MN) as well as the lead vocalist for the Chariottes Gospel Singers of the Twin Cities. From 1957 to 1967, Thelma appeared on a monthly television show sponsored by the University of Minnesota called “Music and Man,” produced by Emily Prey. She played piano for the church, sang on a Gospel radio station and appeared on television for 35 years for “Your Church of the Air,” KSTP Channel 5, Twin Cities, MN.

Battle-Buckner also acted and sang at the Cricket Theater in 1993 and the Illusion Theater in 1995; and performed the story of her life at the Ordway Theater in 1996.

The author has lived a remarkable life with grace–as a worker, musician, preacher, unpaid social worker, and mother of eight children. Next to the God she serves, her children are the center-post of this endearing life.

Dr. Thelma Battle-Buckner–affectionately known as “granny”–will observe her 81st birthday April 26, 2013. A private birthday gathering and book launch party are planned in celebration!

Movie/TV Producers, Documentarians, Film Companies:
Submit story rights inquiries to Gumbo for the Soul International
P. O. Box 2522 | Los Banos, CA 93635 | 408.722.2573 | gumboforthesoul@yahoo.com


To arrange interviews with the author, contact PR, et Cetera, Inc.
209.832.8020 | Toni@PRetCetera.com

300 plus Black women from ten states traveled to U.S. Capitol to urge their congressional leaders to pass policies that empower Black and underserved families

Posted by Newsroom On March - 26 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Washington, DC – Over 300 Black women from ten states traveled to the US Capitol last week to urge representatives to pass policies and programs that empower Black and underserved families, especially single mothers and the working-poor. Issues the women addressed as they visited the offices of their congressional leaders included: public education, gun violence and the creation of jobs with livable wages.

The women met with Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), and others as part of the second annual Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR) Women of Power Summit. The meetings with leaders were followed by a congressional briefing featuring Rep.Yvette Clarke(D-NY), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, and others.

“It’s good to see a filled room,” Rep. Clarke said. “We must make sure that our faces are a part of the debate and dialogue. We are known for doing what we have to do to keep it moving. Women owned businesses are creating jobs. They train and employ those who have been shunned by society.”

Rep. Moore applauded President Obama’s signing of an expanded Violence Against Women Act. “Violence against women is a pandemic disease. As Vice President Joe Biden would say, this is a big deal.”

Melanie L. Campbell, convener of Black Women’s Roundtable, addressed the purpose of visits. “As my mentor, Dr. Dorothy I. Height often said, Black women get the job done. We see the problems tearing at the fabric of our community every day so we knew that we needed to kick off our conference up here on Capitol Hill to let our legislators know that we have an agenda and we intend to make sure our voices are heard.”

President and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP), Campbell continued, “I’m looking in the audience at women of power who turned out thousands of people to the polls. Salandra Benton in Florida, Helen Butler in Georgia, Faye Anderson in Pennsylvania, Tracy Sturdivant in Michigan. In 2012 Black women were the highest vote for President Obama and the margin of victory for many right here in the U. S. Congress. We are here to make sure our elected officials know what we want.”

Many of the participants in the BWR Summit played significant roles in registering and mobilizing more than a million voters in national and local elections since the Unity Voter Empowerment Campaign started over a decade ago.

“Our folks in Alabama can’t afford to make a mud pie,” said Shelia Tyson, convener of Alabama Black Women’s Roundtable. “We came here on a song and a prayer to let these lawmakers know that our people are hurting. They’re loosing jobs and homes. We’ve got hospitals closing. We can’t keep watching dissention and lengthy filibusters in DC. Black families need help now or we need to elect new leaders.”

While the women were visiting lawmakers, the group had a separate youth track touring the Capitol. Carlottia Scott, chief operating officer of NCBCP and former Capitol Hill staffer said, “BWR is focused on mentoring. It is important that we make sure our young people understand our history, the opportunities in leadership, and how to have an impact on public policy.”

After the Capitol Hill briefing BWR delegates and the youth delegation rushed off to the White House where they received a public policy briefing from Tina Tchen, assistant to President Obama and chief of staff for First Lady Michelle Obama; Latifa Lyles, acting director of the Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor; and Marie C. Johns, deputy administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration.

Held at the National Education Association National Headquarters, day two of the summit, Civic Engagement and Global Empowerment Day, allowed the women to come together to map out a strategy based on feedback from meeting with Congress and the Administration.

The day started with a faith and social justice prayer breakfast headlined by Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, U.S. Ambassador-At-Large for International Religious Freedom, U. S. State Department. Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX) stopped in to bring greetings and Susan L. Taylor, founder and CEO, National CARES Mentoring Movement, was the keynote speaker for the luncheon.

Dr. Gail Christopher, W. K. Kellogg Foundation; Elizabeth Powell, American Postal Workers Union; Dr. Lorretta Johnson, American Federation of Teachers; Becky Pringle, National Education Association; Judith Browne-Dianis, Advancement Project; Diane Babineaux, International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers; Dr. Judith Moore, Sisters Saving Ourselves Now; Rev. Marcia Dyson, Women’s Global Initiative, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, economist; Felicia Davis, UNCF Building Green Initiative; Lori George Billingsley, Coca-Cola Refreshments; and Clayola Brown, A. Philip Randolph Institute; were among the distinguished speakers and awardees. Click here for a full list.

The final day of the summit was Community Dayheld atShiloh Baptist Church that hosted a health fair and mini-expo for women and girls.

The BWR Summit was made possible by Verizon Foundation, National Education Association, United Healthcare Plans, American Postal Workers Union, National Urban League, The Praxis Project and other sponsors.

BWR is an intergenerational network of NCBCP, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to increasing civic engagement in Black and underserved communities. BWR brings together diverse women to motivate women to engage in all levels of civil society. For more information visit www.ncbcp.org.

click here to watch VIDEO of speakers on Friday

Photo Caption: NY Rep. Yvette Clarke speaks to Black Women’s Roundtable during a briefing on Capitol Hill.

PHOTO:Paulette Singleton

Illinois House Republicans: Pass a balanced budget or risk not being paid

Posted by Newsroom On March - 26 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Illinois House Republicans have introduced a measure that would require the General Assembly to pass a balanced budget or risk not being paid.

While there is a current balanced budget requirement on the books, it has no teeth. In the past budget years, accounting tricks or gimmicks have been used — and as a consequence we have billions of dollars in bills piling up.

House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 32 is our effort to inject accountability into our state’s budget process. It demands that the Auditor General must certify the budget is balanced or risk serious consequences including:

-Stopping payment for the salary of General Assembly members and Constitutional Officers; and

-Stopping all payments, besides those affecting public safety of the State, required by law, or required by the federal government

These startling consequences would ensure that the Illinois legislature does its’ job and we hope you’ll join us in supporting this measure by signing our petition.

Rep. Tom Cross

IL House Republican Leader

Powerful book of poetry by Brenda Elizabeth Rose gives vital insight into life of elderly

Posted by Newsroom On March - 26 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS
Inspired by her observations of those living in her retirement residence, Brenda Elizabeth Rose’s ‘Selected Poems’ depicts life from a unique perspective. Covering topics including illness, aging and faith, the book is resonating with readers around the world.
Cumberland, Ontario – While growing old marks a pivotal turning point in life, writer Brenda Elizabeth Rose has seen dozens of empowering women embrace it with true grace. With such a strong insight into the views of the elderly, her own observations of women living at her retirement residence has inspired an uplifting new book of poetry.
‘Selected Poems’ will warm and delight the hearts of anyone wanting to experience life from a unique and powerful perspective.
This collection of poetry by Miss Brenda E. Rose presents a refreshing, meaningful and unique perception on life, which is intended to lift the spirits and delight the heart of you, the reader.
By listening to the tales of the women who live in her Retirement Residence, Miss Rose has gained much insight into the lives of the elderly, and those who live with Alzheimer’s. Listening to these heart-warming tales inspired Miss Rose to write. This collection of poetry invites you to journey with her through topics like aging, illness, faith, and Christianity.
As the author explains, the material for her book came straight from the minds and mouths of those living around her.
“The women I live with truly make life special, with each one filling me with the drive and inspiration I needed to write this book. I now invite readers to embark on their own journey into the third-age, exploring topics that will provide thought-provoking insights into what may lay ahead,” says Rose.
Having achieved great success, Rose has recently announced that she has a brand new book in the works.
‘A New Collection of Poetry’, due for release this summer, brings seventy new pages to the reader on topics including friendship, Christmas and a myriad of other inspirational subjects.
In the meantime, ‘Selected Poems’ is available in paperback format from FriesenPress, Amazon, B&N and other retailers. The eBook version is available exclusively from the FriesenPress bookstore.
For more information, visit: http://bit.ly/146h0IB
The Lines of Aging
The lines you see draw a Picture
That the Artist alone creates
Drawn is ageless beauty
From the folds upon your Face
For all that you have granted
To the most and least of sake
Are marks from Angel’s Kisses
And the Artist is God’s Grace
About the Author:
Miss Rose currently lives in a Retirement Residence. She acquired a college diploma in law from Cambrian College, Sudbury, Ontario.

Brenda finds great comfort in weekly Mass, and her private times in the Chapel in her Residence. She also enjoys reading her poems to her friends at the Residence, and getting their creative input.

Miss Rose intends to continue writing poetry with the hopes of publishing another book in the near future.

Michael O’Donnell (Manager)

Female veterans with an entrepreneurial passion: registration deadline for V-Wise Chicago is March 27th

Posted by Newsroom On March - 26 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE), operated by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, will offer its sixth conference in Chicago May 3-5.

The entrepreneurial training program is available to female veterans of all service eras and branches, military spouses and transitioning active duty service members with a passion for and interest in starting or growing a small business. The application and registration deadline is March 27.

The V-WISE program, founded in 2010, was designed by Syracuse University in cooperation with the U.S. Small Business Administration. V-WISE enables female veterans to find their passion and learn business-savvy skills in order to turn their ideas or businesses into growth ventures. The program integrates leadership, integrity, focus and drive-qualities inherent in female veterans-into a premier education and self-employment training program taught by accomplished entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship educators through a three-phase format:

  • Phase 1: What’s First? is a 15-day online, self-study course (a prerequisite to Phase 2) focusing on the basic skills of entrepreneurship and the language of business;
  • Phase 2: Ready, Set, Go! is a three-day conference where participants are exposed to accomplished entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship educators from across the country, consisting of a growth track tailored to those already in business and a startup track focused on potential future entrepreneurs focused on business planning, marketing, accounting and finance, operations and production, human resources, and work life balance; and
  • Phase 3: Keep Moving is post-program support providing a comprehensive listing of community-level resources covering the Small Business Administration (SBA), Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), Women’s Business Centers, Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC), and Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) offices.

Admission for V-WISE programs, offered in cities across the country, is on a rolling basis. Early application is highly recommended. The deadline for V-WISE Chicago is March 27.

SAB logo color

All hotel and conference fees for the program are covered through the support of the SBA. Accepted participants are responsible for

the following expenses:

  • one-time $75 registration fee;
  • transportation to and from the on-site conference;
  • associated parking fees while at the conference; and
  • and dinner on the second evening of the conference.

For information on the V-WISE application process, contact IVMF admissions coordinator Katherine Frontino at kfrontin@syr.edu or 315-443-8791.

For questions regarding the V-WISE program, contact program manager Meghan Florkowski at mconroy@syr.edu or 315-443-4629 or 315-877-2264.

Prostate Cancer Rally to reach one million persons on Father’s Day

Posted by Newsroom On March - 26 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

The largest effort ever to focus on Black America

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — The Prostate Health Education Network (PHEN) is launching its “Fifth Annual Father’s Day Rally Against Prostate Cancer” with an ambitious goal of reaching one million persons. This will be the largest and most visible prostate cancer education and awareness effort ever undertaken with a focus on Black America. The Rally will be held on Sunday, June 16, 2013 in partnership with churches nationwide during their regular church services. Prostate cancer survivors within each congregation along with family members of those who have lost loved ones to the disease will be recognized and join hands in prayer for healing.

In 2012, the Rally reached approximately 200,000 persons based on the total membership of the churches that participated. This year, PHEN will augment the Rally with prostate cancer educational symposiums in selected cities on the Saturday before Father’s Day (June 15th). The symposiums will be hosted by a church partner within each city serving as a magnet site. PHEN industry partners, members of its national survivor network, and local health providers will play integral roles in these educational activities.

“PHEN’s Annual Father’s Day Rally has proven to be an effective education and awareness outreach initiative for African American families who are the ones most impacted by prostate cancer. Because of these urgent needs, it is imperative that we build on our success and increase outreach efforts this year,” said PHEN founder and President Thomas A. Farrington.

Church partnerships which have been developed and nurtured across all denominations are the key to PHEN’s Father’s Day Rally success. “Congregations within the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church have actively participated in the Father’s Day Rally since its inception, and we look forward to participating in the Rally’s expansion in size and scope this year,” states Rev. Natalie Mitchem, Executive Director of the AME Connectional Health Commission. The AME Church has a membership of approximately 3 million persons within the United States and around the world.

Black men die at a rate 2.5 times higher than men of all other ethnic and racial groups in the United States. This disparity led the US Senate, in July 2012, to pass a resolution recognizing prostate cancer to be of epidemic proportions among African American men. However, there has been significant confusion among the public caused by the ongoing debate about PSA screening and over-treatment. Simultaneously, a number of new prostate cancer treatments have been approved and there is a flurry of clinical trial activity that will undoubtedly lead to more treatment breakthroughs along with new procedures for detecting and managing prostate cancer.

“We recognize the enormous challenge in achieving our Rally’s goal this year, however, Black America must become knowledgeable about new developments and fully engaged in order to eliminate the current epidemic, and not be overlooked and risk a worsening condition. The Rally’s success is a significant opportunity for forward progress,” states Farrington.

All churches nationwide are invited to partner with PHEN by participating in the “Fifth Annual Father’s Day Rally Against Prostate Cancer.” Church registration is now open. To register and for additional information visit: www.prostatehealthed.org/churchregister2013

Prostate cancer survivors play a crucial role in the success of the Rally by mobilizing their churches and communities around this effort. PHEN is appealing to all prostate cancer survivors, and their family members, to join in to support and help lead the Rally in meeting its one million person goal. All are invited to join the PHEN Survivor Network.

About PHEN
PHEN was founded in 2003 by Thomas A. Farrington, a prostate cancer survivor and author, with a mission to eliminate the African American prostate cancer disparity. PHEN’s ongoing initiatives include: Monthly support group meetings and webcasts, an “Annual Disparity Summit” on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, an “Annual Father’s Day Rally Against Prostate Cancer” in partnership with churches nationwide, Monthly E-newsletters on prostate cancer treatments and Clinical Trials, and a PHEN online Educational Television Series. For additional information, visit www.prostatehealthed.org

Chicago Latina lands a position in the next season of America’s Next Top Model Cycle 20

Posted by Newsroom On March - 26 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – Folks are asking, “What is in the water in Humboldt Park?” Local native Bianca Andaluz, known as Kanani on the next series, landed one of the top positions in the next season of America’s Next Top Model Cycle 20. This multi-racial beauty purely represents today’s changing face of multi-culturalism, born to a Puerto Rican and French father and Cuban and African American mother, is extremely proud to represent her city of big shoulders.

Kanani, single mother of one-year-old daughter Samarii, started her pageantry interest in 2006 and place runner up in the Miss Teen Illinois Puerto Rico pageant in 2008. It was then that Kanani decided to purse her dream in modeling and compete for the title of America’s Next Top Model. “Kanani’s story is a wonderful example to today’s youths, that manifesting your dreams leads to possibilities and opportunities,” say’s Cesar Rolon, founder of Latino Fashion Week.

Kanani’s immediate goal is of course to captivate the title of America’s Next Top Model and someday open her own Youth Runaway Shelter and Safe haven for troubled youths.

“America’s Next Top Model” is going co-ed this year with its “Guys and Girls” installment. The 20th cycle of Tyra Banks hit competition series — which will debut in the summer of 2013 — includes eight male models competing against eight female models for the first time in the CW series’ decade-long history.

For more information, contact Amy Vega at 312-896-7977 or e-mail: crolon@imagenconsultants.com

New Digital-Divide Campaign would leave seniors behind

Posted by Newsroom On March - 26 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

New Digital-Divide Campaign Would Leave Seniors Behind

New America Media

By Cecilia Garcia & Bob Harootyan
WASHINGTON, D.C.– A major national campaign was launched last week to bridge the digital divide. Everyone On is the public service arm of Connect2Compete (C2C), a national public-private partnership that hopes to provide Internet access, digital literacy training and refurbished computers to low-income consumers.

The three-year, multimillion-dollar campaign, which C2C is doing with the Ad Council, sounds like a great idea, given how essential digital communications have become in how Americans live and work in the 21st century.

There’s just one problem—as an efficient way of providing low-cost broadband access and computers to many low-income families, C2C is targeting those whose children are eligible for the federal free and reduced-cost lunch programs. To qualify, a family must be in a low-income area and have a child on the lunch program.

That means low-income seniors, a highly vulnerable segment of the population, are being left behind.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was a driving force behind the launch of C2C. The commission recognized the need for a strong collaborative partnership with industry, the nonprofit sector and government to make sure everyone in this nation, regardless of age or income, is able to reap the benefits from access to affordable broadband networks.

Many Benefits for Elders

Other nations such as the United Kingdom have recognized this and, as a result, higher percentages of their citizens are connected and trained to make full use of the technology.

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, online use by people age 65 or older jumped from 41 percent in 2010 to 54 percent in 2012.

That’s good news, but seniors remain far behind the 82 percent of all adult Internet users. EveryoneOn is essentially ignoring those who are the least connected digitally – seniors.

Digging a bit deeper, significant numbers of low-income seniors do not have computers or broadband access at home. Digital literacy, which is critical for meaningful use of the Internet, is least prevalent among seniors, especially those who are less educated, have lower incomes and are people of color.
The benefits for older adults are clear. For example, a 2009 report on Internet use and depression among seniors found that it can be a low-cost way to reduce depression by expanding elders’ social interactions, reduce their loneliness, and giving them access to health information and treatment.

As New America Media’s 2012 series “Ethnic Elders Online” showed, closing digital disparities can help older adults in positive ways, from greater involvement in their communities to starting a small business.

Moreover, like all nonusers, older adults often cite lack of relevance as a major reason for not using the Internet. Clearly, the United States needs some kind of intervention to help seniors get online, especially those with low income and limited education.

Digital Inclusion Initiative

While efforts like C2C essentially ignore this older segment of the population, organizations such as Senior Service America, Inc. (SSAI) recognize that older adults do not have to be stranded on the wrong side of the digital divide.

SSAI is one of several nonprofits that run the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), the only federally funded employment and training assistance program for low-income Americans who are 55 or older.

Because digital literacy is so important now to seniors’ income security and well being, SSAI launched its Digital Inclusion Initiative (DII) in 2010. Through the program, SCSEP participants have helped more than 25,000 seniors understand how (and why) to use the Internet.

SSAI mobilized its network of SCSEP grantees to create nearly 350 community-based public sites that provide free computer coaching sessions for seniors. The learners utilize the self-paced Generations on Line computer tutorial application and receive one-on-one assistance from SCSEP participants who are trained Peer Coaches.

SSAI learned a great deal from the DII. The Peer Coaches reported that the biggest challenges were helping older learners get past their lack of confidence in the ability to use a computer and their “computer anxiety.” One-on-one coaching in a highly supportive group setting was essential to help allay these fears.

It is also significant that the senior learners gained more than computer skills. SSAI’s survey data show that seniors who completed the DII program reported improved morale and attitudes about life.
Especially striking were the attitudinal changes among the learners who initially were the most pessimistic.

Two examples: Of those who were initially the most pessimistic about “feeling useful,” two-thirds of had a more positive response at the end of their DII experience. Also, of the learners who were initially the most pessimistic about “my life has a sense of purpose,” 69 percent had a more positive response after their final coaching session.

‘Everyone On’ Should Mean All Ages

We’ve repeatedly found that older Americans defy expectations that they “can’t learn new tricks” by proving highly capable of learning to use the Internet and feel better when they do so.
SSAI and other organizations that work with and on behalf of older Americans are helping us understand ways to address broadband adoption challenges for our most vulnerable populations.
This is a win-win for everyone, yet such efforts for elders do not get the same attention and support as C2C. Why not?

There are straightforward ways to target the most disadvantaged elders. Just as C2C is using the subsidized school-lunch program for outreach to low-income families, they could reach millions of low-income seniors who already qualify for government rental housing subsidies, Supplemental Security Income, food stamps and energy assistance programs—programs serving those of all ages.

Commendable as C2C’s Everyone On campaign is, we urge them to truly include everyone of any age.

Cecilia Garcia is the executive director of the Benton Foundation, and Bob Harootyan, is the research manager of Senior Service America, Inc.

Photo: Courtesy of Senior Service America

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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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