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Archive for the ‘Personal Empowerment’ Category

What’s in a Word? Housing Policy and the Shifting Sands of Empowerment – Non Profit News – Nonprofit Quarterly

Posted: September 10, 2020 at 7:54 pm

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Empower, Jesper Sehested,

September 8, 2020; Washington Post

Writing in the Washington Post, Gillet Gardner Rosenblith, whose doctoral thesis traces the history of public housing policy, highlights the shifting meaning of the word empowerment, showing how a term once used by tenants to claim rights of self-governance has, over time, come to mean being subjected to the market.

This shift is not just of academic interest. In fact, its a contributing factor to the nations current housing crisis. As Rosenblith observes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order to stave off evictions for most renters through the end of the year came about due to tenant advocacy groups calls for eviction moratoriums, even if the measure fails to address the need for rent reliefin a sense, just delaying a potential eviction wave for a few months.

More fundamentally, Rosenblith writes, The order does nothing to address the root cause of this eviction crisisa half-century of federal retrenchment from providing low-income housing and the rejection of traditional multifamily public housing as a viable and effectual anti-poverty program.

What led to the push for tenant empowerment in the first place? As Rosenblith explains, Public housing always had flaws. Its placement often worsened racial and economic segregation, separating low-income, disproportionately African American tenant families from centers of economic and political activity, public transportation, jobs, and more.

What public housing residents were calling for in the late 1960s was fully funded public housing in which residents played a decisive role in decision-making, rents stayed affordable, and the housing itself would be augmented by initiatives designed to help people out of poverty including job training, day cares, health centers, and more.

This may seem a pipedream. Yet for a brief moment, it appeared possible. As NPQ noted a couple of years ago, back in 1968, Congress did not just pass the Fair Housing Act. It also passed the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, which funded housing with a goal of producing six million units of affordable housing in 10 years; by 1970, the federal government was getting close to that 600,000 units a year goal, producing 366,100 units and rehabilitating another 79,700.

And then, funding quickly disappeared, and with its absence came a shift in the language of empowerment. What once meant tenant power and community control became, as Rosenblith puts it, the empowerment of individual tenants, often couched in narratives of personal responsibility or self-sufficiency.

The shift, she notes, was perfectly bipartisanand extended beyond housing to education, healthcare, and welfare policies.

Occasionally, Rosenblith notes, some sought to meld old and new forms of empowerment. One notable example was Jack Kemp, who served as Housing and Urban Development Secretary for President George H.W. Bush. Kemp promoted demonstration projects involving resident management and resident ownership of their units. But, Rosenblith points out, when tenants assumed primary responsibility of day-to-day management duties over their housing, they did so without access to or power over the federal funds allocated to their housing authority. Accordingly, tenant management groups often struggled to effectively implement their vision for management.

By the mid-1990s, Rosenblith writes, a strong bipartisan consensus for empowerment was evident, but the term had become completely divorced from its original intention of promoting significant structural reform and providing adequate resources to help lift Americans from poverty. The budget for public housing, she notes, was cut by $17 billion during President Bill Clintons administration.

It gets worse. Under Clinton, the war on drugs had a public housing corollary. The One Strike Act, notes Rosenblith, claimed to empowergot to love that wordthe good tenants by evicting the bad. But it often led to whole families, including good tenants, losing their housing.

Bottom line: in the name of empowerment, federal housing policy made a mockery of the term.

As Rosenblith concludes, Instead of listening to public housing tenants, politicians made top-down determinations about what was good for them. The result was a far cry from what the tenant power movement had envisioned: the federal government retreated from providing safe, affordable housing, leaving more low-income families at the mercy of private rental companies and landlords.Steve Dubb

What's in a Word? Housing Policy and the Shifting Sands of Empowerment - Non Profit News - Nonprofit Quarterly

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September 10th, 2020 at 7:54 pm

One in 10 U.S. Adults Say They Have Been Victims of Identity Theft Since the COVID-19 Pandemic Began – Yahoo Finance

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Survey from TransUnions public sector business finds expectations are high for government agencies to provide secure yet convenient experiences

CHICAGO, Sept. 10, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- More than eight in 10 U.S. adults (83%) are concerned about having their identity stolen and the level of distress of this crime occurring has increased for nearly one-third (32%) of Americans since the COVID-19 pandemic began. More alarmingly, since the onset of the pandemic, 10% of U.S. adults report being a victim of identity theft. The findings are part of a new survey conducted by the public sector business of TransUnion (NYSE: TRU) released today during the FedID 2020 virtual conference.

The survey of 2,108 U.S. adults on August 11, 2020, also observed types of fraud that are impacting both government agencies and consumers. Unemployment benefits and tax return fraud, among others, are challenging for government agencies because consumers have high expectations concerning the security of their accounts.

More than 43% of survey respondents said both security and convenience are equally important to them when accessing their government accounts. Approximately 26% said security is more important and 22% had convenience as being more essential.

As federal and state government agencies support millions of consumers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, its apparent that fraudsters are gaining access to accounts and funds that are meant to help individuals in need, said Jonathan McDonald, executive vice president of TransUnions public sector business unit. During these difficult times, its critical for government agencies to provide secure, friction-right experiences to ensure citizens are equipped to safely access their accounts or much-needed benefits.

Government fraud impacting youngest generations most

Besides the respondents who said they were a victim of identity theft, 11% said they were not sure if they have or have not been a victim of identity theft. Gen Z (born 1995 or after) topped all generations with almost 16% stating theyve been an ID theft victim. Gen Z also reported the highest propensity of government accounts being taken over by someone else (15%) compared to 7% for all generations.

While 7% of respondents said theyve been a victim of unemployment benefits fraud in 2020, the youngest generations once again faced the greatest challenges. More than 16% of Gen Z respondents said theyve been a victim of unemployment benefits fraud followed by Millennials (born 1980 to 1994) at 8%. The vast majority of respondents who have been a victim of unemployment benefits fraud have not resolved the problem.

Furthermore, a small percentage of respondents have either had their 2019 tax return fraudulently filed (7%) or had their stimulus check stolen (6%). However, Gen Z once again was an outlier with 13% having tax returns fraudulently filed and 12% having stimulus checks stolen.

Our findings make it abundantly clear that the youngest adults are being targeted most by fraudsters. This is also one of the most vulnerable populations with many just beginning their careers. At the same time, these individuals also are tech savvy with the most substantive online profiles, and thats why its critical for government agencies to provide secure, yet convenient opportunities for this population to confirm their identity accurately, concluded McDonald.

TransUnions public sector business supports federal, state and local agencies by providing mission-critical solutions to improve citizen safety, manage compliance and boost services for constituents. TransUnions fraud solutions unite both consumer and device identities to detect threats across markets, fusing traditional data science with machine learning to provide businesses and government agencies with unique insights about consumer transactions.

To access more information about the public sector survey, please click here.

About TransUnion (NYSE: TRU)

TransUnion is a global information and insights company that makes trust possible in the modern economy. We do this by providing a comprehensive picture of each person so they can be reliably and safely represented in the marketplace. As a result, businesses and consumers can transact with confidence and achieve great things. We call this Information for Good.

A leading presence in more than 30 countries across five continents, TransUnion provides solutions that help create economic opportunity, great experiences and personal empowerment for hundreds of millions of people.

One in 10 U.S. Adults Say They Have Been Victims of Identity Theft Since the COVID-19 Pandemic Began - Yahoo Finance

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September 10th, 2020 at 7:54 pm

Empowerment in audit – Accounting Today

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How many of you got into auditing because you love filling out forms? Consider for a moment: The staff who stay are the ones who acquiesce to filling out endless checklists, but those who want to broaden their perspective and depth of knowledge about the client and the industry leave. Scary, isnt it?

We need to set up our firms to keep those who know what the bottom line was on their last audit, and especially those who know how their client makes money. We need to keep the people who will move us from audit and accounting to assurance and advisory.

We have so much untapped potential in our firms to move the audit into the future, but we cant access that without a culture of empowerment. Empowerment is one of the five attributes of a framework for audit leadership weve observed in successful firms over the years. The other attributes are relevance, business-mindedness, quality, and innovation.

Empowerment means that teams feel like they have ownership over the outcome, outputs and the process of what they are doing. They need to feel its OK to try doing things differently and even to make a mistake and learn from it. The quality of everyones work improves when they have the confidence to present new ideas, and to push back when they think theres a better way to do something. And empowerment delivers results especially when it is partnered with owned accountability.

Empowered teams are engaged

Theres an old story of an architect and two stone masons. The architect asked the first stone mason what he was doing. The mason said, Every day is the same. I cut heavy blocks and put them in place to build a wall. The architect saw another stone mason who was doing the same work as the first one, but this one was visibly more animated. The architect asked him the same question, and this one said, Im building a cathedral! Isnt that wonderful?

Our culture of filling out checklists means audit firms are filled with people building walls, not cathedrals, hardly an empowered group. But an empowered team is all-in. Theyre engaged. Theyre looking for ways to add value with each audit and believe its their right and responsibility to do so. Theyre not afraid to innovate, and theyre actively thinking about ways to help the bottom line for their clients. They see and own the end game: protection of the public interest, successful clients and a healthy firm.

In the current COVID-19 environment, engagement might seem like a luxury, when some audit firms are needing to lay people off just to survive another day. But according to a recent meta-analysis of global business data performed by Gallup, engagement is even more important in times of crisis. According to Gallups analysis, which covered both the 2001 and the 2008 recessions, Business units are at an increased advantage and more resilient than their peers if employee engagement is strong. And they are at an increased disadvantage and less resilient if employee engagement is weak during a recession.

So what should leaders do to create that advantage? Heres a hint we dont just point the team at piles of stone and walk away, assuming it will become the cathedral.

Four connections you need

Leaders and managers need to set the stage and be present and available along the way to enable empowered team members who are connected to their work in four distinct ways:

Without these four connections, you have a disconnected group of people who will be ready to join another firm for a higher paycheck. Why not, when most every firm has the same checklist mentality of building an endless wall? You can make your firm attractive to the great auditors when youre building a cathedral.

A culture of empowerment

Building a culture of empowerment doesnt require investment in expensive training. You can build it with small changes, but those small changes make a powerful impact:

Leave audit in a better place

Audit is rapidly becoming a commodity, and there are rumors that blockchain will make audit obsolete. But we honestly believe it's not too late.

There is so much potential in the talents of our people at every level in the firm that the power of all of us working together can make a huge positive difference for the future of A&A. When we empower our people to play all in and we guide them to understand that audit is more than a forms-filling exercise, we can move the profession to a place where team members want to learn, grow, stay, help their clients be successful, and to eventually lead the firm.

To get there, right now we have to work to make audit relevant to our clients. An attitude of business-mindedness means were protecting the interests of our firm and looking for ways to help our clients be more successful. Striving for first time right means quality isnt something measured by the number of checklists and isnt something that we hope quality control will fix at the end. We need to embrace innovation as not just adding more technology, but looking for different ways to do things, and doing different things. And lastly, we need to empower our people to apply their curiosity and intellect to take A & A into the future.

If we do all of that, the future of audit will be better than the present.

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Empowerment in audit - Accounting Today

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September 10th, 2020 at 7:54 pm

India to empower citizens with control over use of personal data – Business Standard

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Niti Aayog seeks suggestions and comments on Data Empowerment and Protection Architecture (DEPA), which aims to empower individuals with control over how their personal data is used and shared

Topics Niti Aayog|data protection

Peerzada Abrar | Bengaluru Last Updated at September 4, 2020 23:18 IST

The government is all set to launch a Data Empowerment and Protection Architecture (DEPA) that will let citizens have control over how their data is used or shared while ensuring privacy. The framework aims to be a public-private effort for a new and improved data governance approach, and policy think tank NITI Aayog has already sought suggestions on the DEPA draft document before October 1.

The on-ground implementation of the framework is set to launch this year. Nandan Nilekani, Aadhaar architect, and Infosys co-founder, in a Tweet on Friday said: The DEPA draft is out ...

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India to empower citizens with control over use of personal data - Business Standard

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September 10th, 2020 at 7:54 pm

Girls on the Run initiates fall season programs with accommodations for health and safety guidelines – LebTown

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4 min read184 views and 17 shares Posted September 10, 2020

Girls on the Run of Lancaster and Lebanon counties (GOTR) have organized a plan to set in motion a revamped version of their fall season programs.

Read More: Girls on the Run is helping local students learn life lessons through physical activity

The GOTR staff and volunteer coaches have included necessary changes to the programs to be able to still provide girls in third to eighth grades with ways to take care of their physical and emotional health during the COVID-19 era. GOTR is aware that the COVID-19 pandemic may have placed additional stress on many childrens lives.

Several of the revisions that have been made to both the GOTR (third to fifth grades) and Heart and Sole (sixth to eighth grades) programs include smaller team sizes for limited physical exposure, a program duration shortened from ten weeks to eight weeks for a later start date, and increased flexibility regarding the times and days of practices.

GOTR has made several modifications to the program to ensure the health and safety of coaches and participants, said Carrie Johnson, Executive Director of Girls on the Run of Lancaster and Lebanon. By following current COVID-19 guidelines, GOTR is confident girls will be able to join a team and experience the much-needed positive encouragement from their peers and trained coaches. Serving girls and meeting their social, emotional, and physical needs are so important to their futures, especially during this time when it is needed most.

The two choices for the fall 2020 programs are in-person/virtual hybrid teams or virtual-only teams. For in-person/virtual hybrid teams, locations such as parks, community centers, churches, and schools will be used as meeting places for social distancing purposes. The teams will meet two times per week and can choose to meet up to four times per week. The team sizes have been minimized to only six to twelve girls per team with two coaches. There will be 16 GOTR lessons during the season.

Read More: Girls on the Run launches GOTR at Home

Virtual only teams give participants the chance to meet virtually through video conferencing. Both school-based virtual teams and open enrollment virtual teams are offered. The teams will be limited to 12 girls per team with two coaches and will meet twice a week for eight weeks. The meetings will last 45 minutes and will include games referring to the lesson, team discussions, activities in the Girl Journal, and physical activity.

Each participant will receive their own bag to carry a Girl Journal for the practices, as well as hand sanitizer, markers and pens.

In the event of unexpected or planned closures, GOTR will be able to quickly shift in-person program to virtual practices, Johnson said. Coaches will be provided with specific resources, training, and support to prepare them to seamlessly deliver the program virtually. With alternative and flexible programming now available, we continue the GOTR commitment to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident.

This years fall virtual 5K is presented by Orthopedic Associates of Lancaster. The 5K will take place on Nov. 20, 21, and 22, and will involve both smaller events in-person and virtually. For more information on the race and to register for the 5K, click here.

Registration is now open for the fall programs and the season starts on Monday, Sept. 21. To register, click here.

In addition to the fall programs this year, GOTR plans to offer a free virtual screening and post-viewing dialogue of the 2017 documentary, Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety.

Angst is a film that focuses on what its like to have anxiety and the struggles that go along with the symptoms of it in everyday life. Angst presents interviews with young people who suffer, or have suffered, from anxiety and what their personal experiences entail. The film also includes an interview with the famous athlete, Michael Phelps.

This film and subsequent panel is for everyone, we all have some level of anxiety in our lives and can learn so much from this documentary, Johnson said. The film helps normalize the conversation and gives us a platform for talking about our own personal experiences with anxiety. At GOTR we provide a safe space for girls to connect emotionally, socially and physically.

The 56 minute screening will be available from Thursday, Oct. 8 at 7:00 p.m. through Sunday, Oct. 11 at 11:30 p.m. On Oct. 8 from 7:00 p.m to 8:45 p.m., a screening will take place and afterward there will be a virtual dialogue with psychologists and experts.

With the limitations the pandemic has put on gathering and thus, meeting in-person with many of our girls, we feel strongly that providing the platform for conversation around anxiety and what all children and adults are feeling right now is one of the most impactful things we can do as an organization, Johnson said. Anxieties of the uncertainty and unknown are running high for both adults and children.

The sponsors who made this event possible include The Ellenberg- Herr Team at Merrill Lynch, Jay Group, Hershey Retirement Solutions, Kreamer Funeral Home, LCCF, Hinkle Insurance, and Eden Park Pediatric Group The screening tickets are free and are now available. For more information about the event and to register for tickets, click here.

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Girls on the Run initiates fall season programs with accommodations for health and safety guidelines - LebTown

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September 10th, 2020 at 7:54 pm

Defending Rights of Women in India: A Constitutional Standpoint – The Kashmir Images Newspaper

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Added on September 11, 2020 Adeela Hameed

Women make up half the population of our world. They are equal members to each resource provided by nature, have personal and official rights, and elicit respect. Each country takes care of women rights as one of its fundamental responsibilities. India is no exception.

When talking about constitutional and legal rights of women in India, we have a large base to cover. Some of the very important constitutional rights are mentioned below to provide an idea that the Indian constitution does indeed cater to women empowerment.

The legal rights (notified as Acts) of women as provided by the Indian constitution are:

Although these rights are clearly mentioned in the Indian constitution, following these to the bone is lacking at large in our country. What does this say about citizens and governing bodies? This indicates that however powerful the rule, it will never be powerful enough to be implemented, unless and until underlying issues are addressed. The issue here is making women aware of these rights, boosting their confidence, and helping them to be bold and headstrong in the face of turmoil at any level; societal, familial, or personal.

Female employees working in industries, factories, government offices, or private facilities whilst maintaining their households properly are proof enough that a woman can balance her job and personal life well. They dont need to be patronized. What they require is full reimbursement for their abilities, at home or at work.

Women are half the reason this planet survives. They are guardians of the human civilization, and their presence in this world matters as much as a mans. So, women need to know their role, rights and responsibilities to move ahead with confidence. Not only women, but men too should consider it their duty to make sure a woman is respected and admired responsibly. That she is supported in her dreams, her modesty protected, and work appreciated.

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Defending Rights of Women in India: A Constitutional Standpoint - The Kashmir Images Newspaper

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September 10th, 2020 at 7:54 pm

How Donnette Dawn Thomas is Making a Positive Impact with Mindful Missions of SC – Kev’s Best

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Donnette Dawn Thomas aka The Beauty in Business is a successful entrepreneur, actress, writer, and mother of three, whos giving back and making a positive impact with her non-profit organization Mindful Missions of SC (M2/SC). M2/SC is focused on enabling long-term community change by helping children who are living in poverty.

The organization is centered around Donnette Dawn Thomas and her teams belief that every community holds individuals with amazing potential, but sometimes that potential is thwarted by poverty. Using proven life-changing programs, resources, and tools, M2/SC helps to realize the potential of the most vulnerable so that they can rise up and not only benefit themselves but the community they came from.

M2/SC provides children and adolescents with personal and professional skills, employment, and services that support them. The organization is supported by donations that help create thriving communities where everyones potential is nurtured and encouraged.

M2/SC has 4 key programs, focusing on health, education, employment, and empowerment. All of these programs are connected in helping individuals and communities break out of the cycle of poverty and realize a better future.

Their health programs focus on developing healthy habits in children, as well as making sure they are connected with appropriate services if they need help. With regards to education, kids are helped to complete secondary school with practical support in terms of paying school feels, suppling required uniforms, classroom supplies, tutelage, and scholarships.

Through a combination of mock interviews, resume preparation, vocational training and more, teens are helped in developing skills that help them enter the workforce and change their lives for the better.

The final piece of the puzzle is empowerment through programs that promote leadership and teamwork, helping create a ripple effect where future generations are assisted by those who came before.

With her sincere passion for helping people from all backgrounds achieve success, Donnette Dawn Thomas work as CEO of Mindful Missions of SC is something to be praised and admired.

Cameron Dickerson is a seasoned journalist with nearly 10 years experience. While studying journalism at the University of Missouri, Cameron found a passion for finding engaging stories. As a contributor to Kevs Best, Cameron mostly covers state and national developments.

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How Donnette Dawn Thomas is Making a Positive Impact with Mindful Missions of SC - Kev's Best

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September 10th, 2020 at 7:54 pm

Why we should do away with standardized testing – The Daily Cardinal

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Standardized tests like the SAT and the ACT are slowly losing popularity and being phased out Image By: Creative Commons By Anupras Mohapatra | September 10, 2020 9:00 am

In recent news, UW-Madison announced the decision to make college admissions tests like the SAT and the ACT optional through Summer 2023, placing an even greater emphasis on holistic admissions.

While this decision was a direct consequence of the ongoing global pandemic, a departure from standardized testing for college admissions has been trending in recent years, even pre-pandemic. The University of Chicago was probably the first high-profile university to go test-optional in 2018. They are certainly not the only major university to have taken such an approach. Some universities have taken a test-flexible approach, with NYU standing out as most prominent. Even the University of California system voted early this year to phase out such tests over the next five years.

All things considered, all colleges should look at gradually phasing out standardized testing and adopting a test-optional approach on a permanent basis. The pandemic provides an opportunity to test such a scenario.

In order to make a case for going test-optional, it is necessary to understand the shortcomings of standardized testing.

Test scores are not an effective measure of a students intellectual ability. For instance, the effectiveness of the SAT essay section is increasingly being questioned, because the testing environment is simply not representative of a students writing ability. Students must analyze a short reading and respond to a prompt on a topic theyre likely not familiar with, in the form of an essay, while being timed. Students are unlikely to encounter such a situation on a regular basis in their college careers, thus resulting in universities like Harvard and Yale dropping the requirement altogether.

Such tests are not even as great a predictor of college success as they are touted to be, as they seem to only predict how well students can test basically, how well they can game the system and not how much they really know. A report by Matthew Chingos of the Urban Institute shows that the effect test scores have on a students performances in college coursework is not much. Conversely, high school grades have greater correlation with college performance. Students with a mediocre SAT score 900-990 on a 1600 point scale but near perfect GPA were found to have a 62 percent graduation rate, whereas students with scores greater than 1100 but a GPA lower than 2.67 were found to have only a 35 percent graduation rate. While high school grades vary widely from school to school nationally and around the world they seem to merit consideration far more than test scores. A holistic approach considering grades in conjunction with activities, personal essays, etc. seems to be the right approach.

Standardized tests also fail to account for students facing test anxiety, with about two-thirds of high school students facing uncomfortable levels of such anxiety. The tests seem to unfairly penalise students for their mental health instead of gaps in knowledge, straying far from the selling point of such tests.

Arguably the most compelling case against standardized tests is the fact that such tests do not offer a level playing field, thus making them far from standardized. Retaking these tests has often resulted in a marked increase in scores. For instance, a study found that on average, retaking the SAT resulted in a 90 point increase on a 2400 point scale. This clearly makes taking standardized tests multiple times a lucrative option. However, such an opportunity is open only to students who can afford it with the SAT costing $52-$68 and the ACT costing $55-$70 per sitting thus putting socio-economically disadvantaged students on the back foot. Not to mention the fact that students coming from affluent backgrounds can afford coaching and higher quality schooling as well, which further helps in attaining desirable scores. This only emboldens socio-economic disparity, while pushing the tests towards gatekeeping education and further away from testing aptitude their intended purpose.

A study by UC Berkeley suggests that there's a very strong correlation between a students SAT score variance and their socioeconomic background, with race proving to be the most telling factor. The average scores for Blacks and Latinos on the SAT Math section is lower than the average for Whites and Asians, likely a result of racial income disparity and the handicap it presents. This disparity in scores has remained largely unchanged for the last 15 years or so. Seeing such tests form part of admissions criteria in universities around the United States is problematic, as it only serves to inhibit any potential escape from an otherwise potentially endless cycle of poverty and disparity. It is inherently unfair for someone to be placed at a disadvantage by virtue of things they cannot control, but which affect opportunities and scores like parental education, familial wealth or race. Several large and reputed flagship universities like our own are not as racially diverse as they should be. Perhaps the weightage of standardized test scores acts as a roadblock towards achieving greater diversity.

Education is meant to be an openly accessible driver of empowerment that enables the disadvantaged to challenge the status quo and do better for themselves and their future. The use of standardized testing as a factor in college admissions only maintains the status quo. Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce told CNBC Make It that to succeed in America, its better to be rich than smart, which is a gloomy reality of this country and not the American Dream that Americans brag about. A country that prides itself in the idea of the American Dream must set aside the need for flawed standardized testing for admissions, in order to keep the Dream alive. In a time where serious questions are being asked about intersectionality and racial equality, the gateway to higher education cannot continue to be part of the problem.

Greater emphasis on holistic admissions should be the order of the day, especially for universities that usually give greater importance to test scores. A look into an applicants GPA, personal statements, activities, socio-economic background and available opportunities and resources paints a near-perfect picture of the applicant for strangers in the admissions office who evaluate applicants. Applications that take years to craft should not be thrown out because of a number i.e. test score that is intrinsically flawed. Colleges that have made a move to test-optional policies have seen positive results with regards to diversity, whilst retaining similar graduation rates.

In order for American higher education to remain at the pinnacle, a move away from mandatory standardized testing seems like a step in the right direction. Simply put, the tests are not effective in what they are meant to do and only exacerbate the divides that must be done away with, to make significant strides towards a better future for everyone that sees a future on American soil.

Anupras is a Sophomore studying Computer Science. Do you think college admissions tests should be made optional? Send all comments to

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Why we should do away with standardized testing - The Daily Cardinal

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September 10th, 2020 at 7:54 pm

Varsity Brands Deepens Commitment to Social and Emotional Learning as Schools Work to Reopen for the 2020-21 School Year – PRNewswire

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DALLAS, Sept. 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ --Varsity Brands, the market leader in team sports, school spirit and achievement recognition, today released the first three episodes of season three of the "Believe in You" video series, which the company created free-of-charge to educate students and staff about the incredible power of believing in yourself, despite the challenges and trials life may present. Each episode is accompanied by free downloadable lesson plans and activity guides to take the conversation further and spark critical thinking. The series is hosted by Kevin Atlas, a renowned motivational speaker and the first Division 1 basketball player to play with one arm.

This resource exemplifies Varsity Brands' commitment to provide resources for school leaders, administrators and coaches to help meet the social and emotional needs of students heading back to school an acute challenge made more pressing by COVID-19's impact on back-to-school protocols. Most notably, the company's work in this respect includes its Impact Now initiative, under which Varsity Brands is hosting a free webinar for school administrators, "Social & Emotional Learning Tools for Your Students," at 6pm CST today to educate them about social and emotional learning ("SEL"). Presented by Aaron Hart, co-author of several nationally recognized curriculum programs, the webinar will focus on the ways administrators can establish a solid foundation for social and emotional growth within their students and staff. Administrators can register to attend the webinar here.

Adam Blumenfeld, CEO of Varsity Brands, stated, "As schools work to reopen for the 2020-21 school year, the social and emotional needs of students, teachers and school staff members has never been greater. Extended periods of isolation, lack of interaction with peers, and stressful events and images have contributed to dislocation that must be addressed in order for teaching and learning to be effective. Varsity Brands understands the power of SEL tools for kids and students, and we are committed to doing what we can to help young people build resilience and other critical skills for lifelong success."

Season 3 of "Believe in You" was produced to help students navigate their current school and social climate. Over nine episodes, released in three monthly installments, the series will tackle topics including maintaining school spirit and the power of diversity and will feature people from around the country who have overcome personal challenges to accomplish the extraordinary. As an extension of the Believe in You Program, Varsity Brands has also created Student Empowerment Journals for grades 3-12 to build upon the free video series. Available for purchase here, Empowerment Journals feature daily writing prompts that focus on exploration of emotions, learned optimism, and developing a growth mindset.

About Varsity Brands With a mission to inspire achievement and create memorable experiences for young people, Varsity Brands elevates the student experience, promotes participation and celebrates achievement through three unique but interrelated businesses: BSN SPORTS; Varsity Spirit; and Herff Jones. Together, these businesses promote personal, school and community pride through their customizable products and programs to elementary and middle schools, high schools, and colleges and universities, as well as church organizations, professional and collegiate sports teams and corporations. Through its 9,000 dedicated employees and independent representatives, Varsity Brands reaches its individual and institutional customers each year via e-commerce sites, catalogs, telesales, and direct sales channels.

About BSN Sports Dallas-based BSN SPORTS is the leading marketer, manufacturer and distributor of sporting goods apparel and equipment. A division of Varsity Brands, BSN SPORTS markets and distributes its products to over 100,000 institutional and team sports customers in colleges and universities, middle and high schools, and recreational programs throughout the United States via catalog, e-commerce, and direct sales. Focused on providing game changing solutions through local partnerships, multi-brand selection and one-stop shopping for equipment and uniforms, BSN SPORTS' more than 3,000 employees have been helping elevate participation in team sports since 1972. For more information about BSN SPORTS please visit

About Aaron HartAaron is the creator and author of the Varsity Brands Believe In You SEL curriculum tools and Student Empowerment Journals. He has co-authored several nationally recognized curriculum projects and specializes in web-based content delivery. Additionally, he is the Executive Director of OPEN the Online Physical Education Network driven by Varsity Brands and BSN SPORTS. Aaron's passion for equity of access and community empowerment began over 20 years ago and has continued to guide his professional journey. He began his teaching career as a New York City public school teacher and is currently a part-time faculty member in SUNY Cortland's Physical Education Department.

About Kevin AtlasAt nearly seven feet tall with his left arm discontinued just below his elbow, Kevin faced his fair share of adversity in his early life. Born and raised in the Bay Area of California, Kevin grew up in a split custody household, overcame the early death of his father, and faced a legion of critics prior to his success. After a local AAU basketball coach reached out to invite Kevin to join his elite squad and provided the mentorship Kevin needed to believe in his abilities, he became one of the top high school basketball players in his home state, sported the cover of Sports Illustrated, and went on to earn a full athletic scholarship to Manhattan College and becoming the first disabled player in NCAA history to receive a full Division I athletic scholarship in his sport. After a successful college career, Kevin went on to play professionally in Asia and has since committed to sharing his story with youth, becoming one of the top young professional speakers in the nation. Kevin has since partnered with BSN SPORTS' parent company, Varsity Brands, on developing inspiring programs and content for America's schools.

MEDIA CONTACTSamantha Coulombe Rubenstein PR [emailprotected] 212-805-3081

SOURCE Varsity Brands


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Varsity Brands Deepens Commitment to Social and Emotional Learning as Schools Work to Reopen for the 2020-21 School Year - PRNewswire

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September 10th, 2020 at 7:53 pm

Why we love Megan Thee Stallion – RU Daily Targum

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Megan Thee Stallion is a Houston-native rapper that's known for her phrase "hot girl summer" and her music, which includes hits like "Girls in the Hood" and "WAP."

Unless youve been living under a rock, youve heard of the name Megan Thee Stallion. She's a 25-year-old rapper who entered the music scene in 2017 with her debut album Make It Hot and is now known for her hit single Savage, which catapulted into a viral TikTok dance.

The dance relieved thousands of people from the stresses of the impending pandemic and even landed in the consciousness of Beyonc, who delivered a remix just as successful as its predecessor. It grabbed the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and gave rise to a new dance routine on TikTok.

Stallion is a new albeit important force in the music industry. The Houston native started out as a teenager posting raps on SoundCloud and went on to launch social trends and garner hit singles like Savage, Hot Girl Summer and Girls in the Hood.

She's known for exhibiting her sexuality and inner confidence through impressive freestyles. But, her success didnt come without personal loss. She lost both her mother, who had introduced her to hip-hop, and her grandmother in March 2019, just as she was reaching the brink of her success. Stallion said it was difficult balancing her booming career with such a grave loss that she and her family were shouldering, according to Rolling Stone.

Soon after, she coined the gender-neutral catchphrase hot girl summer, which was an ode to her fanbase, the Hotties, and signified loving who you are, living unapologetically and disregarding what anyone else thinks. Anybody, regardless of gender, can have a hot girl summer. The phrase was a declarative movement in 2019, inspiring Instagram captions and a collaboration with Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign.

This past summer, Stallion teamed up with fellow exuberant rapper Cardi B on WAP, a celebration of their bodies and female sexuality. The stars exchanged bars filled with sexual innuendos over a blaring beat. WAP was embraced by pop-music lovers, but critiqued by men who were offended by their sexual bluntness, which sparked yet another conversation about double standards that persist between male and female rappers.

Stallion had this to say in response to the backlash: Although we have so many incredible women in hip-hop killing it right now and in the past, theres still a shift (that needs to happen) around the perception of a woman owning her sexuality. Powerful women who have agency over their bodies arent something to look down on.

We cant recognize her impact on pop culture without the grievances she, a young Black woman, has experienced and witnessed in the past few months.

Stallion revealed back in July that she suffered gunshot wounds and had to get them surgically removed. She later alleged in an Instagram live that the person in question who shot her was rapper Tory Lanez, in efforts to dispel false rumors. She described it as the worst experience of her life and emphasized that Black women go unprotected in many situations in response to those that were mocking her.

What a lot of people dont know is that Stallion is also a part-time student, studying health care management at Texas Southern University. She has had research papers intermingled with photoshoots on the same day, but she is determined to finish her degree. The singer is also outspoken about human rights. Shes fought hard for the Black Lives Matter movement, consistently posting information and resources on social media, attending protests and donating to bail funds to aid Houston protestors.

The voices of Black women have always been salient, but are now being more popularly acknowledged and celebrated. Their experiences have long been repressed or discredited, but the impact Black hip-hop stars have had on culture and empowerment is undeniable. Stallion is someone who has accumulated incredible loss, but also strength and influence with her catchy raps and loud platform, which echoes through the waves of the music industry.

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Why we love Megan Thee Stallion - RU Daily Targum

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