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Washington Briefs

HBCUs to Get
$2.1 Million from
Human Services Agency

WASHINGTON — Black colleges and universities will get a share of more than $20 million in new federal funding to help improve the economic outlook of low-income neighborhoods nationwide, officials here say.
At least $2.1 million in the Urban and Rural Community Economic Development program will go to historically Black colleges and universities for partnerships, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials.
Job creation, neighborhood revitalization and better coordination of existing services are among the main goals of the competitive grant program, announced late last month. Department officials say they will place a high priority on innovative approaches to create jobs.
The HBCU grant program likely will consist of six grants at $350,000 each, department officials say. The closing date for applications is Nov. 15. Grant proposals should be sent to: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Grants Management-OCSE, 4th Floor West, Aerospace Center, 370 L’Enfant Promenade S.W., Washington, D.C., 20447, Attn: Discretionary Grants Program.
For more information, visit the department’s Web site at <> or call (202) 401-9354.

Asian American   Named to Office of
Bilingual Education

WASHINGTON — Changes are underway in the U.S. Department of Education’s office of bilingual education.
Long-time director Delia Pompa has announced plans to leave as director of the office, a post she has held for four years. Pompa won praise from U.S. Education Sec. Richard W. Riley and others for her work to reduce Hispanic dropout rates and oppose efforts to limit or eliminate bilingual education services.
At the same time, Riley appointed a new deputy director of the office, Buoy Te. Te escaped the killing fields of Cambodia in the 1970s during the Khmer Rouge’s reign over the Southeast Asian country.
He worked as a bilingual teacher in Minneapolis after fleeing Cambodia, and also served in the second-highest-ranking job at the National Coalition of Advocates for Students, a national network of 23 child advocacy organizations.
The department’s bilingual education and minority languages affairs office works with school districts to help them provide equal educational opportunity to students with limited English skills.

Minnesota Under Affirmative Action Microscope

WASHINGTON — Minority students have a much higher chance of being admitted to the University of Minnesota than White students, according to a report by a group that challenges affirmative action policies at American universities.
On the university’s Twin Cities campus, the odds of being admitted are almost seven times more favorable for Asian students than for White students, the report released this month by the Center for Equal Opportunity in Washington, D.C., found.
Hispanic students are about five times and African American students about three times more likely to be admitted than White students. That amounts to discrimination, the center’s report concludes.
Linda Chavez, the center’s president and former director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights during the Reagan administration, says that the preferences found in Minnesota were “moderate.”
The report puts the university in the middle of a national debate that has landed several universities in court and prompted voters in the states of California and Washington to pass ballot initiatives banning preferential treatment based on race.
“The real debate is whether or not you fix past discrimination by invoking new discrimination against people who had no part in the past discrimination,” Chavez says.
Mark Yudof, president of the University of Minnesota, stood behind the school’s policies and says the report may be misleading because the numbers combine data from the university’s different colleges, which have different admissions standards.
“My view is that the pipes are clogged in terms of moving to diversify and integrate corporate board rooms and the criminal justice system and the professions and government,” he says. “A university has a special obligation to assure that we open the doors of opportunity and that we not have any permanent underclass in this country.”
Early admissions at the university are based on a score that combines a student’s college entrance exam score and high school class rank. Students who meet the standard are automatically accepted, race being a non-factor.
For students who don’t make the early-admissions cut or who apply after Dec. 15, admissions officers look at each application.
Yudof says they look for “a lot of things. Sometimes it’s someone who overcame adversity, or someone who started high school badly and improved. Sometimes it’s a trombone player or an athlete. And sometimes it’s to increase the diversity of the university. I’m perfectly willing to admit and defend that.” 

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