Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

I’m often inspired by the innovative ideas being developed to help low-income families meet both present and future needs.  One example I recently shared highlighted community gardens that provide fresh food to low-income neighborhoods in Tulsa.  Today, I’m drawing inspiration from the economic seeds being planted through San Francisco’s Kindergarten to College (K2C) program.

Launched in 2011 by the City and County of San Francisco, K2C is the first publicly funded, universal children’s savings account program in the country.  Operated through the city’s Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE), the program ensures every kindergarten student in the San Francisco Unified School District is automatically enrolled in a College Savings Account.  Accounts are seeded with $50 provided by the city-county government, with students enrolled in the National School Lunch Program receiving an additional $50.

Accounts are desigmoney ladderned to make contributing as easy as possible by allowing relatives and extended family to deposit money by mail, online, or in person.  There is no minimum deposit amount required, so families can give what they can afford, when they can afford it.  Partnerships with local foundations, organizations and businesses also provide matching funds for promotions that encourage families to save regularly and speed the growth of account balances.

The program is still relatively new but the results so far are encouraging.  As of 2012, over (more…)


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CFED recently released their 2013 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard, subtitled Living on the Edge: Financial Security and Policies to Rebuild American Prosperity. It details how millions of Americans are still just getting by in the wake of the recession, and for Oklahoma the data highlights two or three real problem areas. However, before we take the plunge into a sea of disconcerting data, there are two bright spots. Oklahoma earned the second highest rank 2013_scorecardamong the states in Early Childhood Education participation, an especially relevant figure since CAP Tulsa is an early childhood program provider. The state can also boast of a low unemployment rate, the fifth best in the country. However, the high marks do not carry over to other areas of the Scorecard.

The Assets and Opportunity Scorecard examines the financial security of Americans by assessing states based on 69 different outcome measures. The measures are grouped into five broader categories: 1) Financial Assets and Income, 2) Business and Jobs; 3) Housing and Homeownership; 4) Health Care; and 5) Education. Oklahoma’s general report card, shown below, reflects a mixture of good news and bad news:

  • D – Financial Assets & Income
  • B – Business & Jobs
  • B – Housing & Homeownership
  • D – Health Care
  • C – Education

For more detail on all of Oklahoma’s results, you can click here. For now, to better understand what these grades mean, we will take a quick look at just two of Oklahoma’s problem areas: 1) Financial Assets and Income; and 2) Health Care. (more…)

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For anyone following Newark Mayor Cory Booker on Twitter, or keeping up with him in the news, Tuesday, December 4th was the big day. Booker will try to live a week on the monetary equivalent of the average SNAP benefit, which comes out to $1.40 a meal. Newark’s mayor will demonstrate how tough it is for low-income families to cover the cost of a healthy diet, especially if the main resource for their grocery budget is SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps.

Booker is not the first politician to take the challenge. However, his prominence has turned the endeavor into national news, and it is worth a brief discussion about how the numbers play out in Oklahoma, where 880,939 people received SNAP benefits in 2011.

First some background. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is designed to do just what the name suggests: act as a supplement to other income. Recent numsnap_logobers from the American Community Survey (ACS) show the program is largely living up to its name in Oklahoma, where an estimated 77% of participants are working families.

The supplemental income provided by SNAP in Oklahoma amounts to $1541.16 annually. The value is loaded onto a card, similar to a debit card, and funds can only be used on qualified food items; so no diapers, no alcohol, no dog food, and no vitamins.

To qualify for SNAP in Oklahoma, monthly household income for a family of four must fall below $2,422, or $29,064 annually. Combining the average SNAP benefit with the maximum allowable income in this scenario puts total household income at $30,605.16. According to Federal Poverty Guidelines, this combined total puts a family of four at about 137% of (more…)

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What is the best way to prepare for a recession, apart from building assets and storing money away for a rainy day?  It would seem that my high school counselor had this one right, it comes down to education.   The College Advantage: Weathering the Economic Storm, released last week by the Georgetown Public Policy Institute’s Center on Education and the Workforce, shows that while the recession was tough on everyone, those with four-year or graduate degrees had it better than most. The report’s title, coupled with the images of umbrellas, sends a clear message; a college degree provides protection during hard economic times.

According to the Georgetown report, four out of every five jobs wiped out during the recession were held by employees with a high school diploma or less.  That amounts to 5.6 million jobs lost, and to date there has been no recovery for that sector.  However, those with even a little college education, or those holding associate degrees, only saw a 1.75 million drop in jobs and the recovery has already replaced 1.6 million of those lost jobs. Most impressive is that people with a Bachelor’s level degree or higher gained 187,000 jobs by the end of the recession, and have added another 2 million during the recovery.

This news comes as conformation to many of us who advocate for higher education, but we also need to be mindful of the rising cost of college and (more…)

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The Annie E. Casey Foundation recently released their 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book.  It details how kids are doing across the United States, measuring overall child well-being, as well as ranking states in four specific areas: Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family and Community.  There are also individual state profiles, and Oklahoma’s data holds both good and bad news.

The KIDS COUNT Data Center ranks Oklahoma 40th overall in child well-being, and this is a slight improvement over last year.  However, while the state made gains in five key areas, they fell in nine others while two remained unchanged.  The worst news was in Economic Well-Being and Family and Community Indicators, where there simply was no improvement to report: more kids are living in poverty and in high poverty areas.  Health was a mixed bag, showing a higher number of low-birth weight babies, which is bad, but also reporting more children with insurance and fewer child and teen deaths, which is obviously good news.  Education trends looked somewhat better overall, with regards to preschool attendance and reading and math scores, but not enough high school students are graduating on time.


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Good news continues to roll in for the Kendall-Whittier and Eugene Field Neighborhoods.  Last December, CAP received a $500,000 Promise Neighborhood planning grant to focus on revitalization in both communities. The inspiration for Promise Neighborhoods is based on the successful model of New York City’s Harlem Children’s Zone, a program featured in Waiting for Superman and various other media. These grants fund programs in high poverty neighborhoods which have a proven capacity to build partnerships and possess the necessary systems to track kids through school, so no one falls through the cracks.

This week, the Tulsa World reported that Tulsa Public Schools pledged to provide longitudinal data to track Kendall-Whittier and Eugene Field students as they progress through school.  This collaboration also includes a pledge to join with other partners in efforts to reform educational strategies. Taken together, this means CAP is in a better position to compete for a $7 million dollar grant to provide cradle-to-career services to children in the Eugene Field and Kendall-Whittier neighborhoods. (more…)

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In November 2010, the GAO released a report on student mobility entitled, “Many Challenges Arise in Educating Students who Change Schools Frequently.”  The report looks at the characteristics of highly mobile students, the characteristics of schools with a high rate of student mobility, challenges for schools, and the key federal programs used to serve this population. 

The GAO found that highly mobile students (those that move 4 or more times before high school) are more likely to be poor, African-American, and from families that do not own their home or have a father present in the home.  These families were also more likely to live below the federal poverty level than less mobile students (moved 2 or fewer times before high school).  Highly mobile students are also much more likely to receive services such as free or reduced lunch (NSLP), SNAP, and TANF as well. 

In addition to the characteristics of highly mobile students, the GAO looked at characteristics of schools with the highest rate of student mobility.  Schools with high rates of mobility:

  • had larger percentages of at-risk eighth graders
  • had larger percentages of eighth graders eligible for Title I assistance
  • were more often eligible for Title I school-wide programs
  • were more likely to participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
  • had larger percentages of eighth graders receiving special education services, with limited English proficiency, and having higher rates of absenteeism.

To access the entire GAO report including sections on the challenges schools face when serving highly mobile students and the federal programs they use to meet student needs, click here.

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