News You Can Use, 6/30

New York Times, 6/26

Forget the old-fashioned “vocational ed” classes that sent students on a decidedly noncollege track. Over the last quarter century, a new kind of high school program known as a career academy has proliferated, especially in low-income districts, that combines job placement, college preparation and classes beyond the vocational trades, from accounting to healthcare.

Now, a long-term and rigorous evaluation of nine career academies across the country, to be released in Washington on Friday, has found that eight years after graduation, participants had significantly higher employment and earnings than similar students in a control group.

Poverty experts called the findings encouraging because few interventions with low-income teenagers, especially blacks and Hispanics, have shown significant and lasting effects, and they come at a time when young minority men, especially, are losing ground disastrously in the job market.

Education Week, 6/24

Student achievement in mathematics and reading has risen on state tests, and the gap between white and minority children has narrowed since the passage of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, though gains were stronger in elementary and middle schools than at the high school level, according to a new study.

Education Week, 6/24

A Senate Appropriations subcommittee voted today to eliminate all funding for the Reading First program, as part of a fiscal 2009 spending bill that would provide modest increases for other education programs.

Last week, a House Appropriations subcommittee also approved a fiscal 2009 spending measure that would scrap funding for the controversial reading program, which was authorized as part of the No Child Left Behind Act.

In explaining his panel’s decision to zero out the program, Rep. David R. Obey, D-Wis., the chairman of the House Appropriations panel, had cited the results of a preliminary federal evaluation of Reading First, released May 1, which found that the program has had no impact on students’ reading comprehension.

OJJDP Juvenile Justice, 6/24

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has published “Best Practices To Address Community Gang Problems: OJJDP’s Comprehensive Gang Model.” The report provides communities responding to a present or potential youth gang problem with guidance in implementing OJJDP’s Comprehensive Gang Model. It describes the research informing the model, notes findings from evaluations of several programs demonstrating the model, and outlines best practices derived from practitioners with experience in planning and implementing the model in their communities.

Philanthropy Journal, 6/23

Even as Americans began feeling the pinch of soaring gas prices, falling stock markets and a looming mortgage crisis, they donated $306.39 billion to charity in 2007, more than ever before, a new report says.

That’s an increase of 3.9 percent, or 1 percent after adjusting for inflation, says Giving USA 2008, released by the Giving USA Foundation and compiled by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Just over half of donations from individuals last year were directed to religious organizations, which received a total of $102.32 billion, up an inflation-adjusted 1.8 percent over 2006, the study says.

Foundations increased their share of support for the nation’s nonprofits last year to 12.6 percent of all giving.

Philanthropy News Digest, 6/23

Although the majority of CEOs believe corporate philanthropy is an effective way to meet evolving expectations for their companies’ social behavior, only a small percentage of companies are truly efficient in their philanthropy, a new report from the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy finds.

Based on a survey of more than seven hundred C-suite executives, personal interviews with 24 CECP CEO members, and a two-hour roundtable discussion involving forty CEOs and chairpersons, the report, Business’s Social Contract: Capturing the Corporate Philanthropy Opportunity, found that 84 percent of executives recognize that expectations for their companies’ social behavior have increased, while 75 percent believe corporate philanthropy is an effective way of meeting those expectations. Due to a number of complex challenges, however, only 11 percent of companies are truly efficient in their philanthropy, maximizing both the business and social impact of their efforts

New York Times, 6/22

In the past year, the cost of food for what the government considers a minimum nutritional diet has risen 7.2 percent nationwide. It is on track to become the largest increase since 1989, according to April data, the most recent numbers, from the United States Department of Agriculture. The prices of certain staples have risen even more. The cost of eggs, for example, has increased nearly 20 percent, and the price of milk and other dairy products has risen 10 percent.

But food stamp allocations, intended to cover only minimum needs, have not changed since last fall and will not rise again until October, when an increase linked to inflation will take effect. The percentage, equal to the annual rise in prices for the minimum nutritional food basket as measured each June, is usually announced by early August.

Commonwealth Fund, 6/18

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced a new five-star rating program for nursing homes that it hopes will aid America’s elderly and their families in choosing the right place for end-of-life care.

The program, to be implemented in December, will work to improve the Nursing Home Compare section of the Medicare Web site by adding a five-star rating system, based on 19 quality measures, to information on the size, location, ownership and coverage options of each nursing home.

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