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Washington Briefs

Howard Only HBCU Among HUD Community Outreach Grantees

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sec. of Housing and Urban Development Andrew Cuomo last month announced $7.5 million in federal grants to help nearly two dozen colleges and universities revitalize run-down neighborhoods near their campuses.
Howard Uni-
versity here in the nation’s capital was the lone historically Black institution to receive a grant under the 6-year-old program, which weds colleges and universities with community groups and local governments. It received $150,000.
“Colleges and universities are economic engines and anchors of stability in our nation’s urban centers,” Cuomo says. “These grants will help these institutions more effectively address the needs of their communities.”
Specifically, the grants fund a variety of projects designed to improve the lives of residents in low-income neighborhoods near colleges and universities, helping locals gain access to the vast knowledge and resources of those institutions.
Programs include a mentoring project to strengthen male family responsibility, partnerships with major health organizations to create healthcare jobs and business improvement districts that can pave streets, increase policing and expand mixed-income housing.
Some 150 higher education institutions applied for the grants, seeking a total of $51 million. But agency officials say they could not afford more than $7.5 million under their current budget. President Clinton has proposed doubling that amount next year.
 The colleges and their partners are expected to contribute 50 percent of the research costs of their proposed projects and 25 percent of the actual outreach costs.

In Reversal, Riley Calls for High School
Exit Exams

WASHINGTON — Every American student should pass a test to get out of high school whether college is planned or not, U.S. Sec. of Education Richard W. Riley said late last month, reversing his past opposition to such win-or-lose measures.
“Years ago, I opposed high-stakes exit exams because minority students really had less chance to succeed in the days immediately following integration,” Riley said in his fifth annual back-to-school talk at the National Press Club here.
Riley added that high school students must receive the individual support they need to pass such exams. And the tests should be used to promote success for all.
“We still seem to be using America’s high schools as sorting machines, tagging and labeling young people as successful, run-of-the-mill or low achievers,” he said.
Currently, 19 states require students to pass exit exams to graduate high school. Another seven plan tests by 2003. Federal law does not require high school tests.
Gerald N. Tirozzi, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, says schools need extra help if these tests are to become a national standard.
“The time has truly come to find out what kids don’t know. That information is important and meaningful as long as we have the resources to help the kids,” Tirozzi says.
Reciting a wish list, Riley also called for every high school student to be fluent in a foreign language by graduation, parents to curb their teens’ working hours to 20 hours a week and states to provide more teacher training, advanced high school courses and mental health counseling.
His focus on high schools comes at a time when record-breaking school enrollments over the next decade will bring 1.3 million additional students in 9th grade through 12th grade, an enrollment boom sure to ripple on into higher education institutions. 

USDA Names Complex for  Dr. Carver
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture, honoring the genius of Dr. George Washington Carver,   earlier this month named a new federal building complex after the famous Black inventor/scientist.
The dedication ceremony in the suburban Washington area of Beltsville, Md., was held Oct. 6 in conjunction with “Carver Week” Oct. 4 through Oct. 8.
During the event, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman praised the late Carver’s contributions not only to science, but also to medicine, nutrition and art.
Dr. Benjamin Payton, president of Tuskegee University in Alabama where Carver conducted most of his greatest scientific work during the tenure of President Booker T. Washington, also spoke at the dedication as did Dr. David  G. Topel, the agriculture dean at Iowa State University.
Perhaps best known for his research on the peanut plant, Carver was a master of the science of chemurgy — a branch of chemistry that deals with the industrial utilization of raw materials, especially farm products.
He developed about 100 products derived from the sweet potato and soybean in addition to the 325 products he developed from the peanut. Carver also was an accomplished artist, painter and musician.
The George Washington Carver Center is a sprawling 350,000-square-foot facility, a combination of several two- and three-story buildings. In addition to office space, the complex provides four government agencies and their 1,000 employees with a cafeteria, fitness center, healthcare center, credit union and a daycare center.
Carver also has been honored with three postage stamps and a U.S. ship that bears his name. And, he has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. A museum on his life that is run by the U.S. Park Service is housed at Tuskegee University.             

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