Monday, February 26, 2007

The PI.A. project plan

The P.I.A. project was started to serve a very defined purpose: expand higher educational opportunity for all Pacific Islanders by ending their exclusion from academic programs for underrepresented minorities. Our plan for getting this done can be broken down into five parts:

  1. Making our information available and raising awareness
  2. Building and calling attention to the growing recognition of Pacific Islander underrepresentation
  3. Completing a national study on Pacific Islander access to scholarships and fellowships for underrepresented minorities
  4. Persuading underrepresented minority scholarships and fellowships to recognize that Pacific Islanders are underrepresented
  5. Connecting underrepresented minority programs and Pacific Islander students

1.) Make the Information Available and Raise Awareness 
Our first, and most modest goal, is to simply make information available to people through the Internet. When our CEO was a college student researching on Pacific Islander underrepresentation in higher education, some of the most basic facts were hard to find. But with this blog, the PIA project can serve as a one-stop-shop for students, advocates, and others seeking knowledge about how Pacific Islanders are underrepresented, but still excluded from many academic programs for underrepresented minorities.

2.) Build and Call Attention to Growing Recognition of Pacific Islander Underrepresentation 
We've seen that when people learn that Pacific Islanders are being excluded from URM (underrepresented minority) academic programs despite their underrepresentation, they will want to fix this problem. Our early work was focused on gaining support among Pacific Islanders and their allies. Supporters are essential to the P.I.A. project's success in spreading awareness and getting community input, and we are pleased that the following groups have called for the inclusion of Pacific Islander in URM academic programs: the National Pacific Islander Educator Network; the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs; the Pacific Islander Pipeline Program; California's Indigenous Pacific Islander Alliance; and the Center for Pacific Islands Studies.

We're also working to call attention to overall trend among universities, experts and academic programs to recognize that Pacific Islanders are underrepresented.  In our blog posts you'll find record of the growing ranks of institutions and individuals who choose not to ignore the decades of data on Pacific Islander underrepresentation.

3.) Complete a National Study on Pacific Islander eligibility for Scholarships and Fellowships for Underrepresented Minorities
We understand that it's not enough to tell you that Pacific Islanders are unfairly excluded from applying to academic programs for underrepresented minorities -- we need to demonstrate it.

That's why when we incorporated, we set out to complete a national study, looking at whether scholarships and fellowships for underrepresented minorities allowed Pacific Islanders to apply.  We've completed that study, and you can read about it here: LINK

4.) Persuade URM academic programs to include Pacific Islanders
The fourth part of our plan is to make our goal a reality: to expand Pacific Islander access to higher education by persuading all academic programs for underrepresented minorities to include Pacific Islanders.

Numerous URM academic programs already recognize that Pacific Islanders are underrepresented, and allow them to apply. Our research shows that an increasing percentage of URM programs are including Pacific Islanders as an eligible group. For those URM academic programs that don't allow Pacific Islanders to apply, we want to present them with the information they need to change their minds.

We know we cannot force URM academic programs to include Pacific Islanders, and we know they aren't the bad guys. We trust that these academic programs are run by good and open minded people who can be persuaded by good data and the voice of a community. It is likely that many URM academic programs have never been contacted by a Pacific Islander organization or asked why they don't include Pacific Islanders. We are reaching out to them one-by-one, and asking them to choose to include Pacific Islanders.

While we're still in the early part of this stage, but we've already seen numerous successes!  In October of 2012, the leaders of the HBCU Minority Scholarship decided to change its policy and make Pacific Islanders eligible. You can read our post commending their leadership here: LINK Since then, four other scholarships joined HBCU by changing their policies as well.

5.) Help Pacific Islanders and URM Academic Programs Connect
As more URM academic programs choose to allow Pacific Islanders to apply, we plan to serve as a resource to connect Pacific Islander students and URM programs. We look forward to making this transition, but first we need to help URM academic programs realize why they should open their doors to Pacific Islanders.

To learn about how you can help, click here.

To return to the P.I.A. project 101 page, click here.

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