Wednesday, December 18, 2013

U.S. Department of Education Announces Grantees for Race to the Top—District Competition and Investing in Innovation 2013 Competition

The U.S. Department of Education made recent award announcements about two programs: the Race to the Top-District (RTTT-D) program competition and the Investing in Innovation (i3) program competition. Five applicants were selected as grantees for the $120 Million Race to the Top—District competition, and the highest-rated applications secured match funding and became grantees for the 2013 Investing in Innovation competition.

Race to the Top-District Winners

The Race to the Top-District (RTTT-D) winners represent a range of districts, and 5 winning applicants have been chosen for four-year awards, which will vary from $4 million to $30 million depending on the population of students served through the plan.

The winners are:
  • Clarendon County School District Two (consortium of four rural districts), South Carolina
  • Clarksdale Municipal School District, Mississippi
  • Houston Independent School District, Texas
  • Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (consortium of 18 rural districts)
  • Springdale School District, Arkansas
These winners demonstrate innovative work going on in rural school districts across the country to tailor education for all students and provide school leaders and teachers with key tools that support them in meeting students' needs.

The Race to the Top-District program will provide approximately $120 million to support locally developed plans to personalize and improve student learning, increase student achievement and educator effectiveness, close achievement gaps, and prepare every student for success in college and careers.

For more information on the Race to the Top-District (RTTT-D) program, click here.

Investing in Innovation Grantees

The 25 highest rated applications for the fourth round of Investing in Innovation (i3) program competition have secured private-sector matching funds and will be awarded approximately $134 million by the end of December to expand innovative practices designed to improve student achievement.

The grantees address a variety of issues, including four projects that focus on family and parent engagement; four grantees serving rural students and communities; and five projects focusing on Science, Technology, and Engineering, and Math (STEM) course content and instructional practices to increase student engagement and academic achievement.

For more information on Investing in Innovative Funds (i3) program, click here.

Skillman Foundation Launches Youth Development Resource Center

The Skillman Foundation has launched the Youth Development Resource Center – a new initiative that will help Skillman-funded organizations collect and use data as a key part of their youth development strategy.

Focused on ensuring that Detroit youth have access to the resources needed to thrive, the Skillman Foundation invests in neighborhoods and the community-based organizations that support children and families. However, the Skillman Foundation recognizes that simply investing in programs and services is not enough. In addition to traditional support, Skillman has committed to helping organizations build their capacity to collect and utilize data - an essential component of tracking outcomes and improving programs and services over time to best meet the needs of Detroit youth. Though many youth organizations regularly collect data, such as the age of participants and daily attendance, it is important to understand the different kinds of data that can be collected and how data can generate evidence about a program’s success. Indeed, data is more than just numbers of statistics – it is a powerful tool that can tell a story about the challenging conditions many youth, as well as the outcomes that can be achieved.

In an interview about the Youth Development Resource Center, Sara Plachta-Elliot – a fellow at the Skillman Foundation and a community-based researcher – explores how the Center will support Skillman’s youth development grantees. Specifically, she highlights how the Youth Development Resource Center will help organizations to generate data that is both practical and easily accessible to staff, especially youth workers who spend most of their time working directly with youth. Though a youth worker’s job many not involve collecting data, it is essential that youth workers use data to understand the challenges a youth is facing and track his/her progress to ensure that the right kinds of supports are in place to achieve success.

Moving forward, Youth Development Resource Center staff will engage in a series of listening sessions both in the Detroit and across the nation in search of data collection practices implemented by youth programs. In the coming year, the Youth Development Resource Program will share these learnings through capacity-building opportunities.

Do you know of a youth program that is doing a great job both collecting and using data? Reach out to the Youth Development Resource Center to let them know!

Data Resources:
Making a Difference In Your Neighborhood: A Handbook for Using Community Decision-Making to Improve the Lives of Children, Youth and Families.

BNCP Resource CenterUseable Data Tools and Templates

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Apply for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Fellows Program

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is currently soliciting applications for participation in a three-year fellowship program focused on community leadership. The program’s goal is “to nurture and inspire developing or established leaders, helping them to become transformative change agents in their communities, guiding vulnerable children and their families toward optimal health and well-being, access to good food, academic achievement and financial security.” 

The foundation will select 100 fellows working in priority locations in the United States: Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans. Another 20 fellows from throughout the country will be selected to serve as a national cohort, focused on racial healing and equity.

Fellows will meet quarterly for three to four days at a time each year, with a focus on strengthening their skills and competencies—both within their place-based cohorts and as a national class. Fellows will also commit to applying these skills through a community-based action project and participating in a leadership network focused on improving the lives of vulnerable children. Fellows will receive an annual stipend of $20,000.

Candidates must be 23 years of age or older. According to the foundation, “ideal candidates are developing or established leaders who grasp the importance of working with others and can:
  • Engage in exploring solutions and invite others to help solve conflicts.
  • Empathize and connect to others through voice, action or presence.
  • Respond to new opportunities and relationships, maximizing social change.
Applications are due on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 by 11:59 p.m. ET. For more information, including frequently asked questions and the application itself, click here.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Justice Partners with National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc.

The Office of Justice Programs’ Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has announced a partnership with the National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. (UNITY). This partnership will provide UNITY with $850,000 to launch the National Intertribal Youth Leadership Development Initiative.

UNITY is a national network organization promoting personal development, citizenship, and leadership among Native American youth. Supporting Native American youth for 37 years, UNITY has more than 132 youth councils operating in 35 states and Canada. The National Intertribal Youth Leadership Development Initiative will provide training and learning opportunities for Native American youth in an effort to increase positive outcomes in their school, community and family environments. Specifically, youth will learn how to plan and carry out service projects within their communities – an opportunity that will provide young people with a chance to learn important skills that can be used in future work opportunities and leadership roles.

Click here to learn more about UNITY.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Virtual Stock and Options Trading

Do you have a virtual stock and/or options trading account? I recently opened up a Virtual Trading account at OptionsXpress for the sole purpose of practice trading. It is a way to test out trading ideas without risking any real money. When you sign up, they put $25,000 of "play" money in your virtual trading account. Virtual trading lets you use the optionsXpress (by Charles Schwab) platform to screen stocks and options. You can then go through the motions of using the trading tools and resources to execute practice trades. This is a way to test trading strategies on stocks, options, and futures without risking any real money.

My biggest complaint so far is the sign up process. They claim that it only takes 5 minutes, but it seemed to take longer than that. You will be asked for all the personal information that you would need to open a real trading account. You are not required to provide a checking account or credit card, and you are not required to fund your account (with real money) at all. You also have to provide your social security number, so I can understand if people think it is not worthwhile. But if you're willing to go through this process, you will have access to the exact same platform as a real OptionsXpress account.

For the record, I also have an OptionsHouse account (different company) that I keep around for the purpose of virtual trading. My real OptionsHouse has a balance of $0.01. OptionsHouse starts you with $5,000 of virtual "play" money.

If you decide to open a real brokerage account, consider taking advantage of one of these great offers:

Open up a new optionsXpress account and get $100
Sign Up for an OptionsXpress Account and Choose Your Free Investment Book
Get a FREE Xbox 360 when you open and fund a new OptionsHouse account


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative Announced as Finalist for the Innovation in American Government Award

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School has announced the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative as one of five finalists for the Innovations in American Government Award. Established in 1985, the Innovations in American Government Award recognizes public sector programs that promote excellence and creativity in trying to address our nation’s most pressing challenges. Since the award’s inception, more than 27,000 programs have submitted applications and nearly 500 government initiatives have been recognized.

This year, five programs representing innovations at the city, county, state and federal levels of government have been selected from a pool of more than 600 applications and chosen as finalists. After several rounds of evaluation, these programs were chosen based on their novelty and effectiveness, as well as the degree to which they can be replicated in other government entities. The Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative – supported by the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice and Treasury – aligns resources across federal agencies to address interconnected and complex challenges in neighborhoods throughout the country.

The Center for the Study of Social Policy congratulates the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI) for being chosen as a finalist and is proud to support several NRI initiatives, including Choice Neighborhoods, Promise Neighborhoods and the Building Neighborhood Capacity Program.

Want to learn more about the Innovations in American Government Award? Click here. Want to learn more about the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative? Click here.

50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty

January 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the “War on Poverty.” Launched by President Johnson in 1964, the “War on Poverty” introduced key programs that still exist today, such as food stamps (now the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), Head Start, Medicare and Medicaid. Though these programs have had a positive impact and improved outcomes for those in poverty, more than 46.5 million people remain in poverty, according to 2012 Census data.

On January 8, 2014, The National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, the Russell Sage Foundation, and Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the “War on Poverty” and foster conversation about the challenges that remain. The event – Legacies of the War on Poverty & Lessons for the Future - will offer diverse perspectives on the effects of anti-poverty policies in the U.S. in areas such as educational attainment, employment, earnings and living standards, and health over the past five decades and in the years to come. Using research highlighted in the new book, Legacies of the War on Poverty (Russell Sage Foundation, September 2013), a panel that includes the book’s editors, as well as commentators from across the political spectrum, will address policies that grew out of the War on Poverty, as well as the gaps that exist as we continue to fight poverty and promote opportunity throughout the nation.

Click here to learn more about the event, including how to RSVP. The event will also be webcast live.