Tuesday, December 24, 2013

WaPo article on rise of professionals "donating" skilled work

An article in last weekend's Washigton Post caught our eye, as it relates to the work of the Pacific Islander Access project. And no -- Pacific Islanders are not mentioned, nor are underrepresented minority scholarships.

The connection? The article's description of professionals who are donating their skills to worthy causes, rather than just their money or unskilled labor. This is right in line with the model behind the Pacific Islander Access project, which we describe as "micro nonprofit." The key difference is that instead of moving from one nonprofit to the next, our idea was to create an organization to address the issue we care about, and find a way to make an impact with a few people, a few hours a week, and a few hundred dollars a year.

I've missed doing some of the charity work I've so enjoyed (building homes for Habitat for Humanity, working the food line for the hungry, etc.), but I truly feel that I'm making the best use of my time focusing 90 percent of my "give back" time on this one stubborn problem. Not to say that it's for everybody, or that it will always be the best option, but I've loved it.

You can read the article here: link


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander graduate rates rise in Utah

This week The Herald Journal reported that in the state of Utah, Pacific Islander graduation rates rose 4 percent this year. That's slightly higher than Utah's overall high school graduation rate over the same period, which was 3 percent.

You can read the full article here: link

This data is similar, though slightly different than what's reported by the Utah dept of education in their 2013 report on graduation and drop out rates. That report showed a 5 percent increase in PI high school graduation. You can read that report in full here: link


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Update on national study of Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander access to underrepresented minority programs: most programs now open to Pacific Islanders!

In the summer of 2012, the Pacific Islander Access project published the findings of a national study we conducted regarding whether underrepresented minority scholarships and fellowships permitted Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander students to apply.  We'd known for some time that despite significant data demonstrating Pacific Islander underrepresentation in higher education, many programs were still treating Pacific Islanders as though they were not underrepresented.

Our question was: how many?  What was the extent of the problem, and had it gotten better or worse since the last time someone conducted a study with the same question?

Our findings were that in the several years since the last study, things had gotten better, but only marginally. (You can read our post on that here: link)

In addition to giving us a sense of the extent of the problem, the study provided us with a list of programs that needed to be approached so they could make an informed decision about whether to continue excluding Pacific Islanders. This was the list we've used for the past year, as we worked to reach out to well-intentioned programs.

This month, we re-crunched our numbers, so see what kind of difference a year of advocacy has made. Here's what we found:

  • Scholarships and fellowships that recognize Pacific Islander underrepresentation: 54 percent (almost twice as many as 2012, when the number was just 28 percent) 
  • Scholarships and fellowships that don't recognize Pacific Islander underrepresentation: 30 percent (a little more than half as many as 2012, when the number was 56 percent)
  • Scholarships and fellowships that recognize some Pacific Islander subgroups (such as Native Hawaiians or Samoans) but not others: 16 percent (identical to 2012)

In reaching this point, the P.I.A. project surpassed several milestones, including these:

  • When we were founded, all of our research indicated that most underrepresented minority scholarships and fellowships misclassified Pacific Islanders. Today, our research indicates that most of them properly recognize that all Pacific Islanders are underrepresented!
  • The total annual value of the financial aid provided by the 13 or so scholarships that  changed their policies after hearing from the P.I.A. project now exceeds one million dollars. That's a seven figure annual return from a nonprofit that runs on just a few hundred dollars a year! 

We are proud and encouraged to have seen such a shift in just a year-and-a-half, and believe that progress can continue as long as the leaders of these underrepresented minority programs are open to hearing the facts, and the P.I.A. project and others keep pressing the issue. I am also very grateful for all of the work that has been done by our all-volunteer team of directors, interns, project assistants and others who have given their time, energy and intellect to this little nonprofit.



Thursday, November 28, 2013

The P.I.A. project turns three!

Three years ago this month, the Pacific Islander Access project was incorporated as a nonprofit in Washington DC.  Our vision was to create a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that would zero in on a problem that wasn't being addressed adequately at the time: that despite being underrepresented in higher education, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders were being excluded from most academic programs for underrepresented minorities. We also had an unusual strategy: we would be run entirely by volunteers, and keep expenses to no more than a few hundred dollars each year.

In the thirty-six months that followed, we made gradual progress that we are very proud of. In the first two years, that included:

  • Developing the nonprofit's corporate governance structure, and handling the necessary filings that eventually allowed us to operate under 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
  • Maintaining and improving this blog, which provides anyone with internet access a one stop shop for information on this issue. 
  • Completing a national study on Pacific Islander eligibility for scholarships and fellowship for underrepresented minorities, which gave us 1.) a sense of the extent to which Pacific Islanders were being misclassified, and 2.) a concrete list of scholarships and fellowships for us to educate. 
With the research, legal structure, and communication means established, we've turned our attention to reaching out to underrepresented minority scholarships, educating them about Pacific Islanders, and persuading them to open their doors to this underrepresented group.  

The progress we've made in this area -- talking with well-intentioned underrepresented minority programs and helping them change their policies -- has been the most rewarding and impactful work we've done. We showcase the 13 programs that have changed their policies after hearing from the P.I.A. project on our "honor roll" page, which you can view here: link

Next post: In our next post, we'll return to the national study we conducted last year, and update you on where we are today. 


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Seattle school district disaggregation of Pacific Islanders and Asians reveals drastically different scores

Earlier this month, The Seattle Times reported on public remarks by Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Jose Banda, unveiling problems and progress made within Seattle-area schools.

Seattle, and Washington State in general, has a noticeably larger than average community of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, so I was curious about whether the district complied with the federal data collection standard that recognizes Pacific Islanders and Asians as two distinct groups. I was pleased to see that at least in some cases, the answer is yes.

As a result, rather than reporting a figure that lumps Pacific Islanders in with Asians, we can see whether the two groups are at different places academically.

The result? A wide gap.

81 percent of Asian students in the school district passed the state's math exams, much higher than any other reported group. The corresponding passage rate for Pacific Islanders was 46 percent, meaning that the average PI student is not passing the test.

These kinds of problems would have been hidden if the two groups had their data combined. (For more on why "Asian Pacific Islander" data rarely portrays Pacific Islanders accurately, click here: link.) Now that they have accurate data, we hope that they will be more effective in helping Pacific Islander students achieve their educational potential.

Read the full article here: link


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Media continues to highlight growing Pacific Islander community in Missouri

In recent weeks, at least two articles in Missouri news outlets have mentioned the state's growing minority populations, including Pacific Islanders. This reflects what Census data has shown as well: while the national Pacific Islander populations is growing fast (Pacific Islanders are the second fastest growing of the basic racial groups in the America), Missouri's PI population is increasing at an even higher rate.

The specifics: between 2000 and 2010, Missouri's Pacific Islander population grew by 70 percent. During that same period, the Pacific Islander population in the 50 states grew by 40 percent, while the total U.S. population grew by 9.7 percent.

The growth was even more dramatic in neighboring Arkansas, where the Pacific Islander community's numbers increased by 150 percent between 2000 and 2010.

With this increase in the state's Pacific Islander community gaining attention, the P.I.A. project couldn't be happier about the University of Missouri's decision to open up three of its underrepresented minority scholarships to Pacific Islanders.

Here are the Missouri-focused articles:

Also, here's an article from earlier this year, which focuses on the growth of Missouri's Micronesian community: Public Radio International: Far from the Pacific, Micronesians increasingly call Missouri home

And for those interested in the PI population boom in Arkansas, you can read two New York Times articles on that here and here.


Saturday, November 02, 2013

University of Missouri Transition Grant for Underrepresented Minority Residents also Opens for Pacific Islanders

Earlier this fall, we blogged about the University of Missouri opening up two underrepresented minority scholarships to Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, after hearing from the Pacific Islander Access project.

Today we are pleased to announce more good news: the University of Missouri has announced that a third underrepresented minority program -- their sought after Transition Grant -- is also open to Pacific Islanders. This is a highly competitive grant program for underrepresented minority students who are Missouri State residents.  Recipients receive $2,500 per year, with renewal for up to three years.  We inquired with the University after hearing great feedback from many of you on the institution's decision to open up their other underrepresented minority programs.

Students and parents can learn more by visiting this page on the grant program: LINK

And of course -- mahalo to the University of Missouri for choosing to include Pacific Islanders!


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders recognized as underrepresented in articles, by universities, and grant programs

A quick read of our Google News feed provided us with a nice list of universities, grant programs, and articles recognizing Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders as an underrepresented minority group.  This was refreshing, especially paired with the wonderful progress  being made by underrepresented minority scholarships and fellowships who are choosing to include Pacific Islanders. Here are a few of those articles:

Using a new federal demographic classification for the past four years, the University has been able to track data on race and ethnicity. Under these guidelines, the number of underrepresented minority freshmen — which include African American, Hispanic American, Native American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students — saw a slight increase 10.6 percent this year, 0.6 percent more than last year.

 University of Washington: Largest freshmen class ever
The freshman class includes 181 African Americans, 1,794 Asian Americans, 74 Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, 77 Native Americans and 455 Hispanics/Latinos. Overall, the numbers and percentages of under-represented minorities have increased over last year.
Alice Echo-News Journal: University receives grant to help increase Graduation Rate of Minority Students

The Island University partnered with other universities in the Texas A&M System to complete the proposal for the grant. Five doctoral-granting institutions form the central partnership: Prairie View A&M University, Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and West Texas A&M University. The goal of the university partnership titled, “Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate” (AGEP), is to increase numbers of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Native Alaskans, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders entering and completing graduate programs. 
The hope for this master plan is that these underrepresented students will enter graduate and postdoctoral training in STEM fields. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Buffalo University Graduate Fellowship Recognizes Pacific Islanders as Underrepresented

Since completing our national study on Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander access to underrepresented minority scholarships and fellowships, our little nonprofit has focused primarily on contacting those programs, and sharing information about why Pacific Islanders should be eligible. During this time, eleven of those programs have either changed their policies (choosing to include Pacific Islanders) or clarified that while it wasn't advertised, they always intended to include them.

Today we are pleased to announce the twelfth program to make that switch: after hearing from the PacificIslander Access project, the University at Buffalo's Aurthur Schomburg Fellowship Program has clarified it's policy towards Pacific Islanders. Reflecting over twenty years of data on the subject, this prestigious program will accept applications from all qualified Pacific Islander applicants.

 To learn more about the Aurthur Schomburg Fellowship Program, which supports graduate students across various disciplines at Buffalo, click here: LINK


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Native Hawaiians in the U.S. Civil War

Thanks to all the great news regarding underrepresented minority scholarships opening their doors to Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, we haven't had as much space as usual to blog about news and commentary on America's growing Pacific Islander community. Last month, I really wanted to share an interesting column on Native Hawaiian participation in the U.S. Civil War.

While Hawaii is now the 50th State, at the time of the U.S. Civil War it was an independent constitutional monarchy located thousands of miles away from the American battlefields. Nonetheless, the author (a professor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo) showed that Hawaii's people, including its indigenous people,  played a notable role.

Considering the confusion over how Pacific Islanders for into America's larger racial classification system, it was interesting to read about how some Native Hawaiians fighting in the U.S. Civil War were segregated into the "colored" units, while others fought in the White units. (I've pasted one of the paragraphs about that below my signature line.) I was also reminded of other posts we've written regarding the high levels of U.S. military service among Pacific Islanders.

In my opinion, it's definitely worth a read. See more here: LINK

And please let us know if you've seen any other stories on Pacific Islanders in the U.S. Civil War!


Here's an except that caught my attention:

However, unlike the white Armstrong, native Hawaiians who fought for the Union risked segregation because of their skin color. One volunteer, Prince Romerson, served in the Fifth Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry, an all-black regiment, and mustered out as a sergeant. Exceptions did occur, though: Henry Hoolulu Pitman, son of the Hawaiian Chiefess Kinoole O Liliha, was a private in the 22nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, a white regiment, who was captured and died in Richmond’s Libby Prison.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Full-Ride Engineering Scholarship for Underrepresented Minorities Clarifies Policy, Now Available to Pacific Islanders

Since we posted our original "honor roll" of underrepresented minority scholarships and fellowships that chose to open their programs to Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders after hearing from our nonprofit, that number has more than doubled. The latest good news comes from the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), which operates the SRC Masters Scholarship Program, which recently clarified its eligibility policy and committed that Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are eligible to apply!

The MSP Scholarship, intended to address underrepresentation in engineering, pays full tuition and fees for two years of masters level studies, along with an unrestricted $2,000 living stipend. After completing our national study, the Pacific Islander Access project reached out to SRC, as we have with dozens of other underrepresented minority programs.  While SRC's stated eligibility policy did not include Pacific Islanders, a representative from the SRC Education Alliance confirmed that Pacific Islanders are a recognized eligible group. The eligibility requirements on their website have been updated.

We commend and thank the SRC Education Alliance for recognizing Pacific Islanders, and for updating their public eligibility policy. We encourage Pacific Islanders considering a career in engineering to take a look at this generous full ride scholarship.

Click here to learn more about the scholarship: LINK


Monday, September 30, 2013

Two Missouri underrepresented minority scholarships now open to Pacific Islanders

This month we've announced great news regarding two underrepresented minority scholarships, both of which are now open to Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. At the close of the month, we are pleased to announce two more: after hearing from the Pacific Islander Access project, the University of Missouri is opening up two of its underrepresented minority scholarships to Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders!

Starting next year, Pacific Islander students who meet the other criteria can apply for the George C Brooks Scholarships and the Diversity Award. This change in policy was made after the university reviewed data on Pacific Islander underrepresentation among college graduates, both across the United States and in the State of Missouri.

The Pacific Islander Access project commends the University of Missouri for its commitment to underrepresented minorities, and for choosing to include Pacific Islanders. They join a growing group of underrepresented minority programs, and we hope that others will follow their lead. We strongly encourage Pacific Islander students and parents to look into these new opportunities.

Once again, mahalo to the University of Missoori! Please learn more about them by visiting their webpage here: http://missouri.edu/

For more info on the George C Brooks Scholarship, click here: LINK

And for the Diversity Award, click here: LINK


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Pacific Islanders now eligible for accounting scholarship

We've been the bearers of good news lately at the Pacific Islander Access project, thanks to several underrepresented minority programs that have decided to open their doors to Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. (You can read our recent posts to learn more about the two most recent announcements, regarding the Diversifying Faculty in Illinois program, and the Abraham Lincoln Graduate Fellowship.)

Fortunately for America's growing Pacific Islander community, the good news keeps coming!  We heard back from the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), which is the world's largest membership organization representing the accounting profession. AICPA administers the AICPA Scholarship for Minority Students, for undergraduate or graduate accounting students who are underrepresented.

We are pleased to share that this program is open to Pacific Islanders!  

We heard about this directly from AICPA, after contacting them following our national study on Pacific Islander eligibility for underrepresented minority scholarships and fellowships.  While their online information indicated that their programs did not include Pacific Islanders, they shared that their undergraduate scholarship accepted a Pacific Islander student as recently as last year.  They are reviewing information we have been sharing with them, and are working to revise the official eligibility criteria. 

We commend AICPA for supporting Pacific Islanders who aspire to become CPAs and/or teach accounting at the university level!  We also look forward to the results of their official eligibility policy change, which should clearly state that Pacific Islanders are an eligible group.

You can learn more about AICPA's scholarship programs by following this link here: link

Mahalo for reading!


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Australian Broadcasting Corporation: "Voice of Pacific Islanders in U.S. not being heard"

Nudged perhaps by the story from New America Media that we blogged about earlier this month, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (the top news outlet in Australia) recently did a story on challenges being faced by America's growing Pacific Islander population.  They zeroed in on the same area of California as New America Media, and interviewed one of the same sources.

There were several things about the story that we greatly appreciate, especially ABC's effort to raise awareness about the struggles of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders in the U.S. In particular, we were pleased with the focus on education issues, including the underrepresentation of Pacific Islanders in American universities.

We also noted one issue in need of correction: the description of Pacific Islanders as an "immigrant group."  New America Media made the same mistake.

As we've mentioned before, America's Pacific Islander community consists primarily of people who are indigenous to land that is now the United States.  Native Hawaiians (indigenous to Hawaii, the 50th State), Chamorros (indigenous to Guam) and American Samoans (indigenous to American Samoa) make up the vast majority of Pacific Islander Americans. We recognize that this diverse community does also include immigrant groups, such as Fijians, Tongans, Tahitians and others, but simply labeling Pacific Islanders as an immigrant group is inaccurate.

Click here to read the story from ABC: LINK


Saturday, September 07, 2013

Abraham Lincoln Graduate Fellowship revises eligibility policy, Pacific Islanders assured of eligibility

In our last post, I got to tell you that a program which provides over $1 million in annual financial aid is adding Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders as an eligible group.  In this post, we get to share very similar news, after hearing back from the Abraham Lincoln Graduate Fellowship.  This underrepresented minority program has also revised its eligibility policy, and has assured the Pacific Islander Access project that Pacific Islanders are recognized as an eligible group!

While the previous policy limited eligibility to specifically mentioned underrepresented minority groups (of which Pacific Islanders were not one), the new criteria requires that applicants:

...come from groups that have been historically underrepresented in graduate programs

(You can find U.S. Census years of data confirming Pacific Islander underrepresentation in graduate programs right here: link)

We heard this news directly from the University of Illinois at Chicago, which administers the Abraham Lincoln Graduate Fellowship, after contacting them following our national study on Pacific Islander eligibility for underrepresented minority scholarships and fellowships. We are very pleased with this decision to include Pacific Islanders, and commend the university for making the right decision.

The Abraham Lincoln Graduate Fellowship is an exciting and generous financial aid program for underrepresented minorities interested in attending the University of Illinois at Chicago. In the first year, recipients of their recruitment award receive $25,000 per academic year plus a full tuition and fee waiver.  Together, this can easily amount to over $30,000 in annual financial support.  We encourage you to learn more by visiting UIC's webpage on the program, which you can find here: link

Mahalo once again to the Abraham Lincoln Graduate Fellowship for opening its doors to Pacific Islanders!

And mahalo to you for reading.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

$1 Million-plus Fellowship adds Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders as an eligible group

As our regular readers know, we've been reaching out to underrepresented minority scholarships and fellowships on the need to properly classify Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders.

This week, we are elated to share that an underrepresented minority fellowship which provides over $1 million in annual aid is amending its eligibility policy to include Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders! Representatives from the Diversifying Faculty in Illinois program notified us about their policy change with the PIA project after hearing from us (following our national study), then again this summer.

The Diversifying Faculty in Illinois program provided an average award of $10,500 to new fellows recently, and named over 100 fellows last year. (That's over $1,050,000 in aid for new fellows in one year alone.) This program, open to underrepresented minorities, funds the education of students who want to become college educators. Fellows must pursue, and accept if offered, teaching positions at higher education institutions in the State of Illinois.

In making this important change to their eligibility policy, the DFI program joins five other scholarships that have opened their door to Pacific Islanders since last year's study.

We commend the DFI program for making the right decision, and hope that Pacific Islanders looking for a career in academia will consider this tremendous opportunity. For more information, please visit them here: link


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Honor Roll: Underrepresented Minority Scholarships that changed their eligibility policies towards Pacific Islanders

After completing our national study last year, we've directed our attention to educating  underrepresented minority programs about the need to open up their programs to Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. Since then, five thirteen scholarships have changed their policies, and while we've thanked them already, we're doing it again by adding them to our "Honor Roll" of programs that made the right decision.  Together these programs represent an average of over $1,100,000 in financial aid each year.

We hope that more programs will follow their lead: 


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sports and Military Service as routes to college for Pacific Islanders

Separate articles on the establishment of a Polynesian football hall of fame and a documentary on military service among Micronesians may not seem like they have much to do with each other, but I was struck by the common thread of higher education.  In both cases, these story highlighted how each thing was an important path to college.  

I would be interested in statistics on how many Pacific Islanders feel that college sports or military service was their entree avenue to pursue a diploma, given that these are two areas where Pacific Islanders are much more visible -- please let us know if you've seen any data on that!  

Here are links to the articles:


Sunday, August 04, 2013

Deadline coming up for Pacific Islander-focused leadership training

Aloha! This post will be short and to the point: Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders in California or nearby should know that tomorrow (Monday, August 5th) is the deadline to apply to the PILOT (Pacific Islander Leaders of Tomorrow) Institute's summer 2013 training. Intended to increase the number of emerging leaders in the Pacific Islander American community, the training will provide community focused leadership training tailored to the shared values and challenges held by America's Pacific people.

To apply, click here: link


Saturday, August 03, 2013

P.I.A. project cited in New America Media story on Pacific Islander academic struggles

While scrolling through my blog and news feed on Pacific Islander higher education issues, I was pleasantly surprised to read this article from New America Media regarding the academic struggles of America's growing Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander community.  That story, Often Ignored, Pacific Islanders Fight for Academic Success on Their Own, is available here: link

An excerpt: 

Hatori suggested that more awareness is needed of the specific issues confronting the Pacific Islander community. 
“Being grouped in with all Asians when using the term API (Asian Pacific Islander) in statistics to judge whether a particular race or ethnicity is doing well or not is often deceptive,” Hatori said. “People who are not very knowledgeable on the issues the Pacific Island community face will look at API numbers and think Pacific Islanders are not struggling at all,” he added. 
Such misconceptions are having horrid effects on Pacific Islanders’ prospects for scholarships, advocates argue, and therefore college access. Many scholarship programs decline applications by Pacific Islanders, mistakenly assuming those students are as privileged as their peers from other Asian backgrounds. 

When referencing Pacific Islander access to scholarships, the article links to the P.I.A. project's recent guest column in The Chronicle on Higher Education.

Mahalo to New America Media for highlighting the struggles and some of the successes of Pacific Islanders in America's academic arena.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Pacific Islander 20-somethings three times less likely to hold college degrees than Asian American peers

For this week's post, we're sharing an interesting stat that appeared in an online story in the New York edition of Metro.us:

In 2007, 59.6 percent of all Asians in the United States 25 to 29-years-old had a college degree. But only 18 percent of Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders of the same age had a degree. The AAPI designation combines all of these groups into the same category.

In other words, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islander 25 to 29-year-olds are more than three times less likely to have a college degree than Asian Americans in the same age group.

We've shared lots of data on Pacific Islander underrepresentation, but this figure is interesting because it looks at the youngest cohort of college graduate age Americans, and finds that Pacific Islanders in this age group are over three times less likely to hold a college degree. This is very similar to the overall data showing that for Americans over 25 years-old, Pacific Islanders are over three times less likely to hold a bachelor's, and five times less likely to hold an advanced degree.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Report shows that the number of Pacific Islanders in poverty grew faster than any other major group during recession

Last month, the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, better known as National CAPACD presented "Spotlight: Asian American and Pacific Islander Poverty." It's full of different data, but here's the figure that caught our attention:

From 2007 to 2011, America's population of Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders living in poverty increased by 60 percent.  

The Pacific Islander increase of 60 percent is more than twice the national rate's increase of 27 percent. In fact, of all of the racial groups studied (Whites, Blacks, American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic, and Asian) Pacific Islanders saw the biggest percentage increase in the population living in poverty. 

It's also a figure that would have been lost if the study's authors had merely lumped Pacific Islanders in with Asians.  As National CAPACD demonstrates with their report, the increase shown when AAs and PIs are grouped together was 38 percent, which is almost identical to the rate for Asians (37 percent) but significantly lower than the Pacific Islander rate of (60 percent).

Disaggregated data on the AA/PI populations reveals the income disparities within subsets of this diverse group. Yet policymakers and others don't always realize the differences between the dozens of subgroups under the AA/PI umbrella.

Mahalo to National CAPACD for this important study, and for demonstrating a commitment to recognizing the need for clear data on Pacific Islanders! The full report is available here, and additional information on National CAPACD can be found on their website, www.nationalcapacd.org


Sunday, July 14, 2013

iCount Conference demonstrates need for quality data on Pacific Islanders and Asians

In case you missed it, we wanted to call your attention to an interesting conferences focused on a topic near to our mission: disaggregation of Pacific Islander and Asian American data.  Earlier this summer, a two day conference was held in Washington DC, hosted by the Educational Testing Services (ETS) and the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education (CARE), along with the support of the U.S. Department of Education. The conference, called iCount: A Data Quality Movement for AAPI in Higher Education, can be viewed now by following this link: here

The conference attendees noted that Asians and Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders comprise the first (Asian) and second (Pacific Islanders) fastest growing racial groups in the United States.  Speakers also recognized that despite the tendency to group both categories together, the dozens of sub-groups show significant diversity. In terms of education, the lack of accurate AAPI data prevents policy makers from identifying achievement gaps and addressing the educational needs of subgroups that require more attention and resources.

Congresswoman Judy Chu, PhD, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, discussed how the application of the "model minority" myth does not follow the real data on Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans, citing high school graduation rates for Southeast Asians and college completion rates for Pacific Islanders: 

“In reality, the diversity of the needs within this community is very deep, and the stereotype ignores the challenges of sub populations that are being left behind in classrooms all across America. The high school dropout rate among Southeast Asian Americans is staggering. 40% of Hmong, 38% of Laotian, and 35% of Cambodian populations do not complete high school. According to the 2010 census, 47% of Guamanian, 50% of Native Hawaiians, 54% of Tongans, 58% of Samoans who entered college left without earning a degree. Without comprehensive data about these students, glaring disparities in academic achievements continue to remain invisible.”

The Pacific Islander Access project is proud to support the efforts of iCount's organizers and everyone else dedicated to helping decision makers understand the true needs of America's growing Pacific Islander community. 


Friday, July 05, 2013

Catching up after a great month


Aside from the previous week's updates, last month's blogging was focused largely on our Chronicle on Higher Education guest column on the misclassification of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. I have been overwhelmed by the amount of positive feedback I've received from Pacific Islander students, professors, parents, organizations, Asian Pacific Islander advocacy groups, and social justice advocates of various backgrounds who reached out to me and others at the P.I.A. project since our column went online and to print.

My greatest hope is that in addition to raising awareness and getting people talking, the inclusion of our column in America's top publication on higher ed will also help underrepresented minority scholarships and fellowships realize that now is the time to stop misclassifying Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. Only time will tell.

As the P.I.A. project staff mentioned in an earlier post, we've also gained a voice on the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education. 

Meanwhile, I'm pleased to announce another change that you'll see in this month. We are very happy to have some new volunteers giving their time to our cause.  You'll start seeing their work products in our blog and for some of our longer term projects. As usual, I feel blessed to be joined by a team of people who believe enough in our mission to give their time and energy for free.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

P.I.A. project highlighted in APIASF blog

This month, the Pacific Islander Access project was honored to be highlighted by the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) in its re/present Asian blog. APIASF is the nation's largest nonprofit organization devoted to providing college scholarships for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Recently, APIASF was recognized as one of the top 100 nonprofits by the Social Impact Exchange's S&I Index.

Mahalo to APIASF for highlighting the P.I.A. project, and more importantly, for helping to raise awareness about the need to include Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders in underrepresented minority programs!

You can read their post here: link


P.I.A. project exec appointed to National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education

The Pacific Islander Access project is pleased to announce that our CEO and President has been appointed to the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education (aka the CARE Commission).  Kawika has joined one of the most visible and active national organizations dedicated to demonstrating the diverse needs of the dozens of groups that commonly fall under the Asian American and Pacific Islander umbrella.

"I was honored by the invitation to join the CARE Commission, and look forward to working with its members and staff to raise the level of awareness about the educational realities facing America's two fastest growing racial groups: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.  I hope that as someone committed to sharing knowledge about Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, I can contribute to the overall dialogue being driven by the CARE Commission," said Pacific Islander Access project CEO and President Kawika Riley.

To learn more about the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education, click here: link

Pacific Islander Access project staff

Monday, June 03, 2013

P.I.A. project featured in Chronicle of Higher Education!

We've said it before and I'll say it again: While Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are underrepresented in higher education, they're excluded from applying to many scholarships and fellowships for underrepresented minorities.

A huge mahalo to The Chronicle of Higher Education for allowing us to share this story with its readership. You can read that story here: link

If you're an underrepresented minority scholarship, please visit our special section here to explain why Pacific Islanders should be eligible for your program: link


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day

As we often do on Memorial Day, the Pacific Islander Access project would like to say thank you to the men and women who serve America in uniform, and to the families who support them. We would also like to call attention to the high rate of military service among Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, and to the sacrifices of their families, especially those caring for wounded warriors.

Here's more from our post last Memorial Day, telling the story of a patriotic, self-sacrificing segment of this nation:

Military service is one of the many ways that America's growing Pacific Islander population gives back to the country we call our own. According to recent reports, American Samoa holds the solemn distinction of having lost more of its citizens in the post-9/11 conflicts, per capita, than any State or Territory (NBC: Eager to serve in American Samoa, but strong civic duty often extracts the heaviest price). After American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia are next (TIME: A Micronesian Paradise: For Military Recruiters). In addition, according to a study by the Heritage Foundation, Pacific Islanders are more overrepresented in military service than any other major racial group (Table: Who Bears the Burden).

This Memorial Day, the Pacific Islander Access project thanks all who have served.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

News this week: national study finds Pacific Islanders college grads most likely to stay in workforce

This week Inside Higher Ed covered a report on diversity among college graduates issued by the American Council on Education. While it didn't make the headline or lead paragraph, the reporter shared this interesting data on post-graduation participation in the labor force:

Fifty-eight percent of graduates in 2007-8 were between jobs or fluctuating between participation and nonparticipation in the labor market; the racial group with the highest rate of continuous postgraduation participation in the labor force was Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, with 50 percent, while the group with the lowest was Asian Americans, with 27 percent.

Why are Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders so much more likely than other racial groups to maintain continuous participation in the workforce after graduating? Are these figures kept high partly by the fact that Pacific Islanders earn advanced degrees (most of which require departure from the labor force in order to stay in school) at less than half the rate of the general population, and a quarter of the rate of Asian Americans?
Would greater investment in Pacific Islander college graduation have a greater rate of return in the education = jobs equation that's often discussed in policy and business circles?

You can read the article here (link) and visit ACE's website here (link).


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Census data continues to show Pacific Islander underrepresentation in higher education

May is Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.  Around this time each year, the U.S. Census publishes a "Facts for Features" brief that includes up to date socioeconomic information on Asians and Pacific Islanders.  Among other things, this year's brief says what over two decades of data also says: Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are underrepresented among college graduates, especially at the advanced degree level.

Here's the data for Asians, Pacific Islanders, and the general population, 25-years-old and older:

Percentage with a 4-year-degree 
  • National Average..... 28.5 percent
  • Asians..................... 50 percent 
  • Pacific Islanders....... 14.5 percent

Percentage with an advanced degree: 
  • National Average..... 10.6 percent
  • Asians..................... 20.7 percent
  • Pacific Islanders....... 4.3 percent

You can read the brief yourself by clicking here: link


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pacific Islander students roughly half as likely to have a parent with a college degree

For decades, the U.S. Census has produced data showing that Pacific Islanders are significantly less likely to hold college degrees than the general population.  Still, our research indicates that just half of all underrepresented minority academic programs recognize that some or all Pacific Islanders are underrepresented. (We should add that the number of underrepresented minority programs that exclude Pacific Islanders is falling rapidly -- from 56 percent of our sample last fall to just 50 percent today.)

There's no magic wand to solve this issue overnight, but we believe that an important way to address the issue is by raising awareness.  That's why we're educating underrepresented minority programs, and asking them to change their policies. It's also why we're writing on this blog, sharing information with you.

In that spirit, here's another study in that area: The National Center for Educational Statistics published a paper last August called "Higher Education: Gaps in Access and Persistence Study."  Among other things, the study found that Pacific Islander students are just under half as likely to have a parent with a college degree, compared with the general population. (35 percent for the general population vs. 18 percent for Pacific Islanders.)

You can read the whole study here, or view the page that I mentioned here. Let's hope that more underrepresented minority scholarships choose to allow Pacific Islanders keeps increasing, so that more Pacific Islander children and parents are able to achieve their dreams.



Saturday, April 20, 2013

50-50 split: Underrepresented minority programs that recognize some or all Pacific Islanders now split evenly with those who don't

(Click graphic to view larger image)

Last year, we shared the findings of our national study on Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander (aka "Pacific Islander") eligibility for underrepresented minority scholarships and fellowships. We found that each of the programs in our study fell into one of three groups:
  • Those who exclude all Pacific Islanders (56 percent)
  • Those who include all Pacific Islanders (28 percent)
  • Those who include some Pacific Islander sub-groups (such as Native Hawaiians or Samoans) but exclude others (16 percent)
We've blogged about the exact stats, especially the fact that most underrepresented minority programs in our sample -- 56 percent -- didn't include any Pacific Islanders. 

We also told you that we were going to take that data, and start educating the scholarships and fellowships that didn't recognize Pacific Islanders at the time of our study. Our hope was that if we gave them easy access to accurate information, the programs would decide for themselves that they shouldn't exclude an underrepresented group. 

It's been slow and steady, but that is what's happening. Since we started contacting the programs last fall, three scholarships that previously excluded all Pacific Islanders changed their policies, and two scholarships that previously excluded some Pacific Islanders opened their door to the entire Islander population. That was five programs in the first six months.

As a result, the percentage of underrepresented minority scholarships that exclude all Pacific Islanders has fallen from 56 percent to 50 percent!

Meanwhile, the percentage of programs that recognize all Pacific Islanders has risen from 28 percent to 38 percent, and the number who only recognize some Pacific Islander sub-groups has dropped from 16 percent to 12 percent. Together, programs who recognize some or all Pacific Islanders as underrepresented now equal 50 percent as well, resulting in a 50-50 split.

We've been tracking this issue since 2004, and this is the first time that programs which exlcude Pacific Islanders are no longer in the majority!

This is a significant shift from just last year, and an even bigger change from 2004, when the rate of exclusion for all Pacific Islanders was 64 percent.

50 percent is still way too high, but it's progress. We're excited about the next program who will make the right decision, and in doing so drive down the rate of exclusion even more. Who will it be?

Over the long haul, we want to see the percentage of programs that exclude Pacific Islanders to fall all the way to zero.  We will keep doing our part by reaching out to the programs themselves and raising public awareness. I hope we can count on them, and you, to make it happen. 


Saturday, April 06, 2013

National Academy of Sciences recognizes Pacific Islander underrepresentation... Which means Missouri Scholarship does too!

We've been sharing a lot of good news with you since completing our national study on Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander access to underrepresented minority scholarships and fellowships last fall, and providing information to the programs that excluded Pacific Islanders at the time of our study. That's because the scholarships and fellowships are making the right decision -- to include Pacific Islanders -- after reviewing decades of data on Pacific Islander underrepresentation in higher education.

Several leading academic entities recognized this well before last year's national study, like the National Academy of Sciences. In 2011, their report on underrepresented minorities recognized that Pacific Islanders are an underrepresented group. (You can read that report here: LINK.)

On page 22 of that report, they write:

Underrepresented minorities, as used in this report, refer to African Americans, Hispanic or Latino Americans, Native Americans and Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. Asians, while a minority group in the U.S. population, are typically overrepresented in science and engineering fields. Pacific Islanders are considered an underrepresented group. However, most national data sets for scientists and engineers aggregate Asians and Pacific Islanders, so it is generally impossible to present separate data for this group. 

Recognition by the National Academies of Science is important for many reasons. One you might not think of: at least one state sets its definition of underrepresented (for the purposes of a state-run scholarship) based on what the National Academy of Sciences says.

We're referring to the State of Missouri's Minority and Underrepresented Environmental Literacy Program, which runs a scholarship to help high achieving underrepresented minorities earn a degree in an environmental field of study. This program includes Pacific Islanders as an underrepresented minority.

Why? Because Missouri law provides that for this program, the definition of "underrepresented minority" will follow the data and findings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mahalo to the National Academy of Sciences for recognizing the data on Pacific Islander underrepresentation, and to the State of Missouri for establishing a standard that includes deserving underrepresented minority groups.


For those interested, here is a link to the State of Missouri's Minority and Underrepresented Environmental Literacy Program: LINK

Here is a link to the Missouri State law I mentioned: LINK

And just for good measure, we've pasted a copy of the relevant section of the Missouri Revised Statutes:

Missouri Revised Statutes

Chapter 173
Department of Higher Education
Section 173.240 

August 28, 2012

Program established--fund created--purpose--administration--rulemaking authority--advisory committee created, members, duties.
173.240. 1. There is hereby established within the department of higher education a "Minority and Underrepresented Environmental Literacy Program". The department of higher education, hereafter referred to as the department, may award scholarships to minority and underrepresented students to pursue environmentally related courses of study. The scholarships shall be administered by the department recruitment and retention program under the supervision of the minority environmental literacy advisory committee established under this section. Those ethnic groups which are most severely underrepresented, as determined by data gathered and maintained by the National Academy of Sciences, shall receive priority in annual selection.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Martin Luther King Jr Scholarship for underrepresented minorites changes policy, now recognizes Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders!

We are happy to share that another important scholarship program for underrepresented minorities has chosen to open its doors to Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders! 

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), which administers the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship, is adding Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders (aka "Pacific Islanders") to the list of underrepresented minorities who are eligible to apply.

This change gives Pacific Islanders the chance to apply for a scholarship that grants $80,000 in financial aid each year to high achieving underrepresented minorities.

We commend everyone who was involved in making this important change for the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship, especially those who we've been communicating with over the past months.

After completing our national study on Pacific Islander access to underrepresented minority scholarships and fellowships, the P.I.A. project reached out to the Martin Luther King Jr. program. We shared our findings, as well as related policies and decades of data confirming that Pacific Islanders are significantly underrepresented at the undergraduate and graduate level. This week, they shared that they have decided to add Pacific Islanders, and that the policy change will be reflected in future applications.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship program was established in 1985 at UIC to help underrepresented minorities who have demonstrated high academic achievement as well as commitment through community and campus service. Each year, the scholarship provides $80,000 in financial aid to underrepresented minorities, through 15 undergraduate scholarships ($2,000 each), 5 graduate fellowships ($5,000 each), and five professional fellowships ($5,000 each).

In making this significant and commendable change, the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship joins the HBCU Minority Scholarship, Actuarial Diversity Scholarship, and two National Medical Fellowships scholarships for underrepresented minorities. This is the fifth underrepresented minority scholarship to choose to include Pacific Islanders in the six months since the P.I.A. project started sharing our data with academic programs and asking them to revisit their policies.

Once again, mahalo nui loa to everyone responsible for making the right choice and opening up this important scholarship to a deserving, underrepresented group!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Update on Pacific Islander access to Underrepresented Minority Programs: Eligibility Rising, Exclusion Falling

(Click on infographic to view larger image)

Last fall, we shared our national study on Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander access to underrepresented minority scholarships and fellowships. It was important for us to do this study, because we wanted to see how much things had changed since this problem was measured in 2004. We also wanted to be able to show you exactly how many scholarships and fellowships followed the clear data on Pacific Islander underrepresentation (vs those who don't). 

Since then, we've been reaching out to the programs in our sample who still needed to change their policies to reflect the decades of data on Pacific Islander underrepresentation. We wanted to reach out to them first because we believe that if these well-intended programs see the facts, they will choose to change their policies and let Pacific Islanders in. 

So far, that approach has achieved slow but steady results. In the past six months, four scholarships have changed their eligibility policies after hearing from us!  That increase in programs that recognize Pacific Islander underrepresentation -- from 28 percent to 36 percent -- is a slightly higher rate of change we saw from 2004 to 2012 (21 to 28 percent). 

In other words, we've made more progress in the last six months than had been made in the last eight years before P.I.A. project started sharing the data with the scholarships and fellowships!

The Pacific Islander Project is proud to have played a part in this, but it's the scholarships and fellowships themselves that deserve credit for changing their policies. Mahalo again to the HBCU Minority Scholarship, the Actuarial Foundation, and National Medical Fellowships Inc (which opened up both of its two underrepresented minority scholarships) for making the right choice!