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Archive for May 8th, 2015

White House Report: Making College Affordable for Millions of Americans

Posted by Admin On May - 8 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Tomorrow at Lake Area Technical College in South Dakota, the President will underscore the importance of making community college available to all responsible students as part of his America’s College Promise Campaign, one of several major proposals that build on the historic investments the President has made in college affordability and quality.

Nearly a century ago, a movement that made high school widely available helped lead to rapid growth in the education and skills training of Americans, driving decades of economic growth and prosperity. America thrived in the 20th century in large part because we had the most educated workforce in the world.  A quality higher education continues to be the single most important investment students can make in their own futures and that we can make in the future of our nation.  But other nations have matched or exceeded the United States’ investment in higher education.  Today, more than ever, Americans need more knowledge and skills to meet the demands of a growing global economy without having to take on decades of debt before they even embark on their career.

Over the past six years, the President and Congress have:

  • Increased Pell Grant funding, the government’s primary scholarship program, by 70 percent, and increased the maximum Pell Grant award by $1,000 since 2008.  As of 2015-16, Pell Grants will have helped more than 2 million additional students per year.
  • Created the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), providing up to $2,500 per student, per year to help cover the cost of tuition, fees and books. In 2016, the AOTC will provide 10 million students and families an average benefit of about $1,800.  Families benefitting from the creation of the AOTC will receive an additional $1,000 on average per year compared to the tax credits available prior to its enactment.  Combined, the AOTC and the Lifetime Learning Credit will provide families with more than $20 billion of assistance in 2016, an increase of about 170 percent value relative to the value of education tax credits in 2008.

Taken together, Pell Grants and the AOTC will continue to provide students and families $50 billion in aid next year to help them afford college.  In part as a result of these investments, and despite deep cuts to higher education in many states, the net price students pay – tuition after scholarships and tuition-based tax credits – has actually fallen at four-year private colleges and remained constant at community colleges.  At community colleges, the average full-time student could save $3,800 per year under the President’s America’s College Promise Proposal, which would make two years of community college free for responsible students.

Many states responded to the recession and resulting budget shortfalls by cutting funding for higher education. As a result, public four-year colleges faced significant cuts to their state funding. The President’s investments in higher education, including Pell Grant funding and AOTC benefits, have helped fill the gap so that students can still afford the rising costs at public four-year universities.

This year, President Obama proposed to build on this progress with a bold plan to make community college free for responsible students, ensure that the Pell grant is never eroded by inflation, and simplify, expand and make permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit. He is also working to make student loans more affordable – including expanding current regulations that cap student loan payments at 10 percent of income – and encouraging innovation and competition to bring down the cost of college.

However, despite these hard-fought gains in college affordability, Republicans in Congress have proposed a budget that slashes these and other investments that benefit students and their families.  The budget blueprint agreed to by House and Senate Republicans last week would eliminate $90 billion in dedicated Pell Grant funding and let the American Opportunity Tax Credit expire after 2017 – resulting in a tax increase on millions of students and families.

And the Republican budget does nothing to end the harmful effects of sequestration, capping discretionary funding for education and other key areas we need to strengthen the economy and expand opportunity.

A full version of this report is attached and can be found HERE.

Source: whitehouse.gov

Kirk Statement on Bipartisan Senate Passage of Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015

Posted by Admin On May - 8 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) issued the following statement today after the Senate passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (H.R. 1191) in a 98-to-1 vote:

“This legislation builds on a bipartisan consensus that my colleagues and I have created and is another step in a long struggle to hold Iran accountable, not only for its efforts to get nuclear weapons but also for its aggression in the Middle East, its support of terrorism, and its human rights violations.”

Background: Strong Record of Bipartisanship on Stopping a Nuclear Iran

  • The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-195) passed the Senate in a 99-to-0 vote on June 24, 2010, and the House in a 408-to-8 vote on June 24, 2010.
  • During consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Public Law 112-81), the bipartisan Menendez-Kirk amendment to impose Central Bank of Iran (CBI) sanctions passed the Senate in a 100-to-0 vote on December 1, 2011.
  • The Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-158) passed the House in a 421-to-6 vote on August 1, 2012, and the Senate in a voice vote on August 1, 2012.
  • During consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (Public Law 112-239), the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012, the bipartisan Menendez-Kirk-Lieberman amendment to impose sanctions on Iran’s energy, shipping, and shipbuilding and port sectors, passed the Senate in a 94-to-0 vote on November 30, 2012.
  • The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015 (S. 269), the bipartisan Kirk-Menendez legislation to impose sanctions on Iran, passed the Senate Banking Committee in an 18-to-4 vote on January 29, 2015.
  • The bipartisan Kirk-Brown Iran sanctions policy amendment to the Senate Budget Resolution (S. Con. Res. 11) passed the Senate in a 100-to-0 vote on March 26, 2015.

Justice Department Opens Pattern or Practice Investigation into the Baltimore Police Department

Posted by Admin On May - 8 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced today that the Justice Department has opened a civil pattern or practice investigation into Baltimore Police Department (BPD), pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.  The department’s investigation of BPD will seek to determine whether there are systemic violations of the Constitution or federal law by officers of BPD.  The investigation will focus on BPD’s use of force, including deadly force, and its stops, searches and arrests, as well as whether there is a pattern or practice of discriminatory policing.

While the pattern or practice investigation is ongoing, the department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing will continue to work with BPD and the collaborative reform process that was started in October 2014 will convert to the provision of technical assistance to the BPD allowing for changes and improvements even as the pattern or practice investigation is underway.

“Our goal is to work with the community, public officials and law enforcement alike to create a stronger, better Baltimore,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch.  “The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has conducted dozens of these pattern or practice investigations, and we have seen from our work in jurisdictions across the country that communities that have gone through this process are experiencing improved policing practices and increased trust between the police and the community.  In fact, I encourage other cities to study our past recommendations and see whether they can be applied in their own communities.  Ultimately, this process is meant to ensure that officers are being provided with the tools they need – including training, policy guidance and equipment – to be more effective, to partner with civilians and to strengthen public safety.”

During the course of the investigation, the Justice Department will consider all relevant information, particularly the efforts that BPD has undertaken to ensure compliance with federal law, and the experiences and views of the community.  The Justice Department has taken similar steps involving a variety of state and local law enforcement agencies, both large and small, in jurisdictions throughout the United States.  These investigations have in many instances resulted in comprehensive, court-overseen agreements to fundamentally change the law enforcement agency’s police practices.

In addition to gathering information directly from community members, pattern or practice investigations involve interviewing police officers and local officials; gathering information from other criminal justice stake holders, such as public defenders and prosecutors; observing officer activities through ride-alongs and other means; and reviewing documents and specific incidents that are relevant to our investigation.

Pattern or practice investigations of police departments do not assess individual cases for potential criminal violations.  The investigation into BPD is separate from the department’s concurrent criminal civil rights investigation related to the death of Freddie Gray.

This matter is being investigated by attorneys and staff from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  They will be assisted by experienced law enforcement experts.  The department welcomes the views of anyone wishing to provide relevant information.  Individuals who wish to share information related to the investigation are encouraged to contact the department at 1-844-401-3733 or via email at Community.Baltimore@usdoj.gov

Email links icon

.Police Reform and Accountability Fact Sheet

How P&P Investigations Work

CRI Fact Sheet

Source: U.S. Department of Justice

#BlackLivesMatter: Mothers March for Absolute Justice

Posted by Admin On May - 8 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Letters to Editors


Mothers of Youth Murdered by Chicago Police and Community Members Will

March Through The South Side to Demand An End to the Police State Saturday, May 9th, at 6 p.m.

CHICAGO, IL – Saturday, May 9th, at 6 p.m. protesters will march through the South Side beginning at the intersection of 67th & Indiana, the site where Dakota Bright was shot execution style by the Chicago Police Department.

March called by Panzy Missin Dakota Bright, mother of Dakota Bright:


Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/813174145426387/

We invite all media—corporate and independent—to witness speeches by mothers, family members, and community organizers. We will begin the march through the South Side after the speeches to demand:

1) Absolute Justice For Our Loved Ones: We are not so sure that justice can come from the same “justice $ystem” that kidnaps and kills our loved ones.

2) Dismantle the Chicago Police Department: We Want To Introduce No Cop Zones In Our Communities

3) The Names Of All Chicago Police Department Officers Who Have Killed Our Loved Ones

4) Reparations for All Victims of $tate Sponsored Police Violence: Instead of the billions of dollars the City of Chicago spends on paying the salaries of Chicago Police Officers and their pensions, we will use this money to support & empower those communities most affected by police occupation and violence. The 5.5 million dollars offered by the City of Chicago are nowhere near enough.

5) A Civilian Police Accountability Council: Can we fight to dismantle the entire Chicago Police Department while at the same time push for civilian oversight of Police Districts?

The loved ones of those currently suffering the worst effects of $tate Sponsored Black Genocide will speak at the commencement of the march. It is the communities living under constant police occupation who will march at the front and lead us towards Liberation.

We will march through the very hoods getting hit left and right with Chicago police bullets, being kidnapped by the Chicago Police, taken to the Court$ and being funneled into the pri$on $ystem.

We’re Black, we’re Brpwm, we will shut this city down.

Enough is enough. Chicago police must get out of our neighborhoods, out of our lives.

We will never forget the state killed our brothers & sisters, we will speak their names:

Dakota Bright
Rekia Boyd
Fred Hampton
Pedro Rios
Ronald “Ronnieman” Johnson
Roshad McIntosh
Darius Pinex
DeSean Pittman
Justus Powell
Laquan McDonald
Michael Westley
Warren Robinson
& too many more

Strong communities make the police obsolete

For more information, contact: Pablo, 331-213-8314

U.S. Dream Academy Announces 14th Annual ‘Power of a Dream Gala’

Posted by Admin On May - 8 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

U.S. Dream Academy Announces 14th Annual “Power Of A Dream Gala” TO BE HELD on May 13, 2015 at the Washington Hilton Hotel

Honorees To Include Olympians Edwin Moses and Herbert Douglas Jr., CIO of Major League Baseball, Jonathan Mariner and MarketNet, Inc. President and CEO Jody Victor

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Dream Academy is excited to announce their 14th Annual “Power Of A Dream” Gala, themed “Score For Dreams” presented by Amway. The annu-al fundraiser will be held on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 (Reception 5:45pm Dinner 7:00pm) at the Washington Hilton Hotel, located at 1919 Connecticut Ave NW, Washing-ton, DC 20009. This Black Tie and Tennis Shoes attired gala will benefit nationally rec-ognized after-school programs for children of incarcerated parents and those falling be-hind in school. Each year, the Power of a Dream Gala attracts the support of Hollywood celebrities; political figures, corporate executives, community leaders, and VIPs to invest and raise awareness to further help U.S. Dream Academy programs thrive in making a difference in the lives of youth in need.

This year’s honorees, who are committed to making a difference in the lives of young people through their philanthropic efforts include: Edwin Moses, former Gold Medal Olympian, Jonathan Mariner, Chief Investment Officer of Major League Baseball (MLB), Jody Victor, President and CEO, MarkerNet, Inc. and Herbert Douglas Jr., the Oldest Living Olympian and U.S. Bronze Medalist. The Mentor of the Year award will be given to Charlyn Anderson for her commitment to the D.C. Learning Center. Musical talent for the evening will include Grammy Award Winning Artist, Regina Belle, Entertai-ners Extraordinaire, The Savoy Ellington’s and The US Dream Academy Dream Kids.

For five years, Amway has served as the Presenting Sponsor of the gala. Additional sponsors that have contributed to make this year’s fundraiser successful include: USA-Funds, Southwest Airlines, BWW Charities, MarkerMan, Centric TV, IBOAI, Wells Fargo, and Insurance Advantage.
The U.S. Dream Academy has been nationally recognized by notable figures, including former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush; Senator Orrin Hatch, ; former Secre-tary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; and Oprah Winfrey ; Congresswoman Sheila Jack-son Lee. Such support is what makes dreams possible.

U.S. Dream Academy

The U.S. Dream Academy, founded in 1998, is a national after-school program that aims to break the cycle of intergenerational incarceration. The mission of the U.S. Dream Academy is to empower children who are at risk of future incarceration to maximize their potential by providing them with academic, social and values enrichment through support-ive mentoring and the use of technology. The vision is to create an army of young men and women with positive dreams for their lives, equipped with the tools to make those dreams a reality with the core values of Faith, Freedom, Inspiration and Integrity.

The U.S. Dream Academy focuses on impacting the lives of children with incarcerated
parents and children falling behind in school. The program, founded by
renowned gospel singer Wintley Phipps, is currently operating in 8 cities nationwide
including; Baltimore, MD, Houston, TX, Indianapolis, IN, Memphis, TN, Orlando,
Fl, Philadelphia, PA, Salt Lake City, UT, and Washington, DC. Its research based
initiatives challenge over 700 young people daily and engage them in active
learning through one-to-one mentoring, strong academics, and technology driven
activities and curricula. www.usdreamacademy.org.

Important Statistics
* One in 40 children in the United States has an incarcerated parent.
* More than 10 million children in the U.S. have had a parent in prison.
* Each year about 400,000 mothers and fathers finish serving prison or jails sentences, and re-turn home.

Media Contact: Priscilla Clarke, at Clarke PR Tel. (202) 723-2200,
Email: Priscilla@clarkepr.com

For tickets and sponsorship information: Angela Bonitto, Director of Development: Phone: 410.772.7143, email: abonitto@usdreamacademy.org

Experts Advance Solutions for Healing Relationships Between Law Enforcement and Communities of Color at America Healing Conference

Posted by Admin On May - 8 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – In the wake of multiple deaths of unarmed youths and people of color from encounters with the police, leading experts on policing and community building proposed ways to improve law enforcement-community relationships during a plenary session at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s (WKKF) 2015 America Healing Conference.

This week, more than 500 civil rights, social justice and community-based leaders gathered to discuss ways that Americans of all races, ethnicities and religions can heal divisiveness and work toward racial equity so children can thrive. Mistrust between communities and police, as well as health, economic and environmental conditions fashioned by a legacy of racism, are frequently cited for curtailing opportunities and creating unrest in communities of color.

The plenary session, “Healing Relationships between Law Enforcement and Communities of Color,” provided panelist leaders with a platform to recommend actionable ideas.

The panel, which was moderated by Mary C. Curtis, an award-winning, multimedia journalist based in Charlotte, North Carolina, included: Jeffrey Blackwell, chief of police, Cincinnati, Ohio; Melanca Clark, chief of staff, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice; Rachel Godsil, director of research, Perception Institute; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; and Joseph Scantlebury, vice president for program strategy, Kellogg Foundation.

Ifill recommended that the federal government leverage grants to change police behavior and practices in departments across the country. Specifically, she said the nearly $1 billion in annual grants should be conditioned on “training to manage implicit bias; training to de-escalate encounters, especially with young people; (and) training in encounters with the mentally ill.”

She also called for more comprehensive data collection, saying that it’s impossible to determine whether police-engaged deaths are on the rise because dependable statistics are rare.

Scantlebury noted that while much attention has been placed on policing in African American communities, significant problems exist for all communities of color. “We know all across this country we have Asian Americans facing tensions with police at times, Latino communities facing tensions with police at times,” he said before dramatically listing the names of police abuse victims of all nationalities.

“Everything that is going on traumatizes children, traumatizes families…let’s heal,” Scantlebury related, adding that WKKF supports community leaders committed to racial equity and healing nationally, with added focus within Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans.

Blackwell, who is widely recognized for championing progressive policing approaches, described a training program where on the first week on the job, his new officers focus on interacting with the community in positive ways. Furthermore, he said that in Cincinnati, police frequently meet with community leaders, listening to their priorities and then collaborating on an approach for their neighborhoods. He even has a police officer working full time helping third graders read, a program that has significantly increased their reading scores on standardized tests.

“We are listening,” he said of many police chiefs across the country, “we hear the cries of this nation to change the way we treat people of color. We need to lift people up … I believe strongly that we become guardians in our communities and not warriors. That is a huge paradigm shift in this country.”

Clark said the Justice Department quietly plays a role in helping police departments address specific issues. Under the Collaborative Reform for Technical Assistance program, jurisdictions ask for help in assessing issues from use of force policies to community engagement. Emphasizing that DOJ can’t only “sue our way” to improvements, Clark said her department is supporting “police departments that want to be productive on their own without the hammer of a court order.” Moreover, their reports are blueprints that can be implemented by other police departments.

Meanwhile, Godsil discussed the advances in mind sciences that help explain how individuals can openly reject racism, but still exhibit biased behaviors. For example, teachers disproportionally discipline students of color, police arrest youths and adults of color for minor infractions for which whites would not be detained, and courts issue severe penalties to people of color for the same offenses for which whites would receive a slap on the wrist.

It was thought, she said, that if laws and attitudes toward race were changed, it would produce more justice in our society. But it hasn’t, she said, adding that researchers are working to better understand unconscious bias and provide these findings to schools, police departments and other institutions so they can better understand people’s motivation to discrimination.

La June Montgomery Tabron, WKKF’s president and CEO, said the plenary was a timely and critical conversation in identifying a path toward progress.

“WKKF advocates healing in our communities and our nation, but we must understand the complexity of the problems and promote actionable solutions,” she said. “The panelist’s recommendations and those from the president’s 21st Century Policing Report are essential next steps forward in establishing the necessary accountability and data collection systems in communities.”

To watch a recording of the panel, visit http://wkkfevents.org/americahealing/livestream.

Formerly Incarcerated Moms and Moms Whose Children Were Killed by Police Will Hold Mother’s Day Vigil, Speak-Out, and Balloon Action Outside Cook County Jail

Posted by Admin On May - 8 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL.- The Illinois Department of  Corrections estimates that 80-85% of incarcerated women are mothers of minor children. That means a whole lot of moms will visit their kids inside jail or prison this Mother’s Day. Given the many barriers to visitation, many moms never receive a visit from their kids, a painful and personal reminder that incarceration disappears people, sometimes permanently. For that reason, a group of formerly incarcerated moms, and moms who have lost children to incarceration and other forms of state violence, will be holding a Mother’s Day vigil this Saturday, right across from Cook County Jail Division 17, which houses women who are pregnant and also women who are struggling with trauma, including mental illness and addiction. Organizers insist that this year mothers will not be forgotten behind those walls, rather they will be honored. Furthermore, they will insist that survival is not a crime.

While the vigil may not be visible to the women inside Division 17 or other areas that house mothers, it will be visible to visiting families, who can carry the message inside that they are not forgotten. Women suffer the fastest growing rate of incarceration, with an increase of over 800% in just 30 years. Among them, Black women are disproportionately affected, and given current rates, the lifetime likelihood of incarceration for Black women is 1 in 19. The vast majority of these women are incarcerated for nonviolent offenses directly related to trauma and addiction. For those women charged with violent offenses, they are often the direct result of self-defense, which has historically been criminalized in the US, especially for Black and also poor woman. Examples include CeCe McDonald, Marissa Alexander, and Charelle Baldwin. There are many examples in Illinois too, including Paris Knox, Tewkunzi Green, and Tammy Englerth. The goal, therefore, is to highlight the reality that prisons and jails are filled with people committing survival crimes. The demand of the many organizers and supporters is that Illinois expand community-based alternatives to mass incarceration, that the resources saved by not relying on expensive prisons be used to resource communities in ways that could prevent most of those offences, and that self-defense be de-criminalized for Black and poor women as it is for men.

Moms United, with the help of Black Lives Matter, Love & Protect and other groups, is creating a space to center the voices of mothers most directly and profoundly impacted by state violence. There will be a speak-out, music and chants, and as many as 100 balloons released to send out the names of women who are incarcerated across the country for survival, sons and daughters killed by police. Participants are encouraged to include the names of any moms or family members they wish to memorialize or celebrate, in a setting that calls out structural violence as the great offender, not our moms, and not our fallen friends and family.

What: Vigil and Speak-out

When: Saturday, May 9th 11:15-12:15

Where: Cook County Jail, 27th and California, (grass median)

Contact: Holly Krig, 630-258-8552

Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration

Students to Perform Docudrama Based on Interviews With Men Released From Illinois Prisons

Posted by Admin On May - 8 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS
Chicago students to perform original docudrama exploring the city’s culture of violence and the effects of incarceration, based on interviews with men recently released from Illinois prisons.

Broken Text, by Mechelle Moe, will be performed by students of Chicago’s Senn Arts High School at Raven Theatre, May 19 and 20, 2015.

CHICAGO, IL – Based on stories collected through interviews at St. Leonard’s Ministries with men in transition from incarceration in the Illinois prison system, Broken Text examines the past, present, and future of these individuals and the communities in which they live. Through theatrical interpretations written and devised by Mechelle Moe of Raven Theatre’s Take Flight education program, original spoken-word responses by Senn Arts High School students, musical selections by living composers Marc Mellits, Edgar Meyer, and John Adams performed by Fifth House Ensemble, and soundscapes by DJ/Producer Searchl1te, these previously untold stories find a voice.

A report released this past April 20th by The New York Times stated that 1.5 million black men are is essence “missing” from American society, due to their high rates of incarceration and deaths from violence at young ages. The report estimates 45,000 of such “missing” men are from Chicago alone. Broken Text will explore the lives and diverse experiences of some of these men. The piece explores the culture of violence that has become known as “Chiraq” and leads so many young men into the criminal justice system and prison, as well as the diverse experiences of the men’s lives in prison and challenges in transition back to the outside world following their release.


Broken Text
Written by Mechelle Moe
Directed by Mechelle Moe & Joel Ewing
Performed by Senn Arts High School
Tuesday, May 19 & Wednesday May 20, 2015 at 7pm
Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark Street
Free Admission – Reservations not required
Call 773-338-2177 for more information

History of Broken Text:

In partnership with St. Leonard’s Ministries, Raven Theatre and Fifth House worked with residents at St. Leonard’s to conduct story circles reflecting on emotions and memories related to their path to incarceration. This dialogue led to interviews and writing exercises conducted by Mechelle Moe, Director of Education at Raven Theatre, over the course of one month in September of 2014. These interviews-in conjunction with letters, original poems and songs-became the basis for a new theatrical work written by Moe entitled Broken Text.

The script sheds light on a range of themes as discussed with men at St. Leonard’s and explore poverty, social class, family, friends, religion, gangs, drugs, and violence, paired with recent headlines in the Chicago press engaging these issues.

I am the thing that your mother warned you about. Every day she tells you to be careful because of me. No matter how hard you try at some point you will cross me. I’ve been marched in, stepped through and spit on, and still nothing happens until you cross me. – The Streets (Written by a participant at St. Leonard’s Ministries.

Broken Text was then offered to students at Orr Academy who worked with Mechelle Moe and Fifth House Ensemble musicians in a residency that combined the curriculum of their English class with the newly developed script. The script and residency activities created a unique opportunity for the Orr Academy students to learn about the lives of others, but also facilitated a newfound confidence in their reading, public speaking, and performance abilities in order to tell their own stories. The three month long residency culminated in a staged reading of Broken Text at Orr High School.

Raven’s workshopping and exploration of Broken Text then continued in residencies at Sullivan High School with two Freshman English classes and Senn Arts, where students engaged in full rehearsal process leading to performances May 19 & 20, 2015.

About Raven Theatre’s Take Flight Program

Take Flight encompasses in-school residencies, classes, camps and field trips. For the past decade, we have served the Edgewater/ Rogers Park/Andersonville communities, providing students with an opportunity to learn the basic principles and disciplines of theatre, and to use theatre tools as a means of improving life skills. Take Flight provides Chicago Public School students with the excitement of what is often their first exposure to the theatre and the first step toward a life-long interest in theatre arts.
CLASSES Saturday Series classes are weekend workshops offered every fall and spring for young actors looking to enhance their theatre skills. Classes include improv, stage combat, musical theatre & more.

CAMPS Create life-long memories at our Take Flight Summer Camps. Over the course of two weeks, students create their own theatrical performances inspired by classic & popular children’s stories.

About Senn Arts
Senn Arts is a Fine and Performing Arts Magnet Program where creative Chicago students pursue artistic and academic excellence. Senn Arts provides students with an environment that fosters academic, social, and personal growth to cultivate artistic members of the global community.
Raven Theatre’s Take Flight program has been in residency at Senn High School since 2007 and has been working with the arts magnet program since its inception. Mechelle Moe has directed over 6 productions at Senn Arts in the past four years, including two shows (Our America and Metamorphoses) that were invited to the Illinois High School Theater Festival

About Fifth House Ensemble
The Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble (5HE) is a versatile and dynamic group praised by The New York Times for its “conviction, authority, and finesse.” Having pioneered the art of narrative chamber music with its signature series Black Violet, The Weaver’s Tales, and In Transit, Fifth House’s innovative programs engage audiences through their connective programming and unexpected performance venues.
Bringing its signature connective programming from the stage to the classroom, 5HE develops young audiences through curriculum-integrated interactive concerts and residencies for students grades K-12. A member of the Illinois Arts Council’s Arts-in-Education Roster, 5HE has presented performances and residencies at Chicago public schools and the Chicago Cultural Center in partnership with the International Music Foundation, the Chicago Teachers’ Center, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education, and Ravinia’s Reach*Teach*Play program. Programs are customized to the curriculum of each school, with the goals of promoting active listening skills and connecting music to a wide variety of subjects

Artist Bios

Mechelle Moe (Director) has been working with Raven Theatre as a lead teaching artist since 2009 and took over as Raven’s Director of Education in 2012. In addition to Raven’s programming, she teaches for various organizations including Lookingglass Theatre, Court Theatre, Lifeline Theatre and TimeLine Theatre. . Mechelle has appeared on stage at TimeLine in The Apple Family Plays (That Hopey Changey Thing and Sorry), My Kind of Town, The Front Page, The Childrens Hour, Not Enough Air, and Paradise Lost.  She has also performed with The Hypocrites, a company she co-founded in 1997, and served as Managing Director until 2007), Court Theatre,Griffin Theatre, Lifeline, A Red Orchid, Steppenwolf, and Writers’ Theatre, among others. Moe received a Non-Equity Jeff Award for Actress in a Principal Role and an After Dark Award for her performance as the Young Woman in The Hypocrites’ production of Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal and Jeff Award nomination for Actress in a Principal Role for her performance in Stage Door

Joel Ewing (Co-Director) is the Lead Theatre Teacher at Senn Arts Magnet High School in Chicago, IL. Joel is a proud recipient of the Teacher Incentive Grant from the Oppenheimer Family Foundation that underwrites the outstanding efforts of CPS teachers who enhance and enrich the educational lives of their students through project-based learning. In addition to his education work, Joel is also a member of LiveWire Chicago Theatre where he appeared in The Mistakes Madeline Made and Oohrah! at the Steppenwolf Garage, as well as a member of The Hypocrites where he recently appeared as Andrei in Three Sisters and The Baker in Into the Woods.

Shop Around for Summer Lawn Care, Says the BBB

Posted by Admin On May - 8 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – Warmer weather is here and that means it’s time to start caring for your lawn. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has a few tips to keep in mind if you are thinking about hiring a business to care for your lawn.

In 2014, the BBB received 28,248 inquiries and 108 complaints against lawn care services. Many of the complaints were about shoddy workmanship, a faulty contract or billing and collection issues. For homeowners who choose to use a lawn care service, the first step to a beautiful lawn is making the right hire.

“It’s important to get everything in writing when you’re hiring a landscaper,” said Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Find out exactly what you’re getting before signing and never sign a contract that is partially blank.”

BBB recommends the following when hiring a lawn care maintenance service:

  • Know what you want. Have in mind the types of services you are seeking such as fertilizing, weeding, aerating, or mowing. Ask about the products used like seed, fertilizer, or weed killer and request a lawn inspection and estimate. Be wary of any business that offers a quote without first seeing your yard.
  • Understanding pricing. While price is certainly a major factor in any purchasing decision, find out exactly what you are getting. Do you pay by the mow or by the week? What happens when it rains? Does mowing include edging? Do they mulch or bag the clippings? Are services performed by employees or sub-contracted out?
  • Shop around. Get written estimates from at least three different businesses. Check out BBB’s Accredited Business Directory for landscaping contractors in the area. Keep in mind that the cheapest estimate is not necessarily the best option. Don’t feel pressured to hire the contractor with the lowest estimate. Landscapers with more experience or higher quality materials may charge a little more for the job.
  • Check first. Make sure the business has an up-to-date license as required by your jurisdiction, when appropriate. Always check their BBB Business Review at bbb.org/chicago. Ask for references and check the business’ affiliation with national franchises or associations.
  • Scrutinize the contract. Some landscaping contracts automatically renew unless you specify otherwise. If you do choose to sign a long-term contract, make sure you get information about your cancellation rights in writing, in case you find the services to be unsatisfactory.
  • Understand the warranties and guarantees. If the service is not to your liking or the lawn doesn’t look as you anticipated, understand what recourse you may have.

For more tips, visit www.bbb.org/chicago, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or add us on Pinterest.

We Need Debt-Free Higher Education Now: Sign the Petition

Posted by Admin On May - 8 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS
Tell Democratic leaders: Endorse debt-free college

Petition to leaders of the Democratic party:
“Support the congressional resolution calling for any student in America to be able to graduate without debt from any public college or university.”

Add your name:

Sign the petition â–º
End the student debt crisis

The latest reports from the campaign trail say that Secretary Hillary Clinton’s plan to tackle the outrageous levels of student debt is “coming soon,”1 and her campaign manager has even hinted that she may endorse making debt-free college education accessible to all Americans.2 We need to make sure that happens.

Dozens of progressive leaders in Congress, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, Congressmen Keith Ellison, and Raul Grijlava have already rallied behind the idea that any student should be able to graduate from a public college or university without taking on debt by introducing a congressional resolution.3 Senator Bernie Sanders has called for making public education not only debt-free, but 100% free of any tuition costs for all students.4 And President Obama has proposed a first step: free community college.5

This is a big idea whose time has come. Every Democratic leader in the House and Senate, as well as White House aspirants, should get on board. If they don’t, they risk another election season with a dispirited electorate who have little faith in politicians to solve the big problems that are driving income inequality in this country.

Tell Democratic leaders: Endorse the congressional resolution for debt-free college. Click here to sign the petition.

Today, education debt – also known as student debt, even though parents and grandparents are often on the hook to pay it back – is a trillion-dollar scheme to redistribute wealth away from poor and working class people. Wages have stayed flat for 30 years, while slashed funding for public colleges removed quality, low-price competition and caused tuition everywhere to skyrocket. The worst of the 1% finagle big tax breaks, argue that we cannot afford to fund higher education, and then profit big-time off the loans to students.

It makes no sense to finance education with a loan. Most other types of loans are backed by an asset, like a car or a house, that can be repossessed. But even the worst Wall Street banks know we cannot repossess and education, which is why bankers lobbied to make sure that education debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy or even in death.6 The result is a system that demands young people get a degree in order to compete in the economy – but also to turn over anything they scrape together to pay their loan bill.

Tell Democratic leaders: Endorse the congressional resolution for debt-free college. Click here to sign the petition.

Every dollar spent on education is an investment in America’s future, and a nation as powerful as our always can always afford wise investments – we only lack the political will. That’s something we can fix, if we demand leaders who take a bold stand.

That’s why we are joining our friends at Progressive Caucus, and other progressive allies and throwing the weight of hundreds of thousands of CREDO members behind support of the congressional resolution for debt-free college.

Tell Democratic leaders: Endorse the congressional resolution for debt-free college. Click the link below to sign the petition.


Thank you for speaking out.

Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Add your name:

Sign the petition â–º
  1. Alex Seitz-Wald, “Coming soon: Hillary Clinton’s student debt plan,” MSNBC.com, April 28, 2015.
  2. “Clinton Campaign Manager Embraces Debt-Free College,” ProgressiveTVvideo, May 6, 2015.
  3. Sam Levine, “Democrats Introduce Resolution Calling For Debt-Free Public College,” HuffingtonPost.com, April 21, 2015.
  4. Bernie Sanders Press Release, “Make Public Higher Ed Tuition Free,” Sanders.Senate.Gov, April 13, 2015.
  5. Seitz-Wald, “Coming soon: Hillary Clinton’s student debt plan,” MSNBC, April 28, 2015.
  6. Ashlee Keiler, “You Can’t Discharge Your Student Loans In Bankruptcy Because Of Panicked 1970s Legislation,” Consumerist, March 17, 2015.

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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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