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! 


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pacific Islanders included in Illinois definition of "under-represented minority"

We've written extensively about the decades of data on the underrepresentation of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders.  But until I read this article in the Daily Eastern News, I didn't know that Illinois state laws also recognize Pacific Islanders as an underrepresented group.  

According to the article, the following groups are included as "minorities" and "under-represented minorities" in laws like the Illinois Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois Act, and the Business Enterprise for Minorities, Females and Persons with Disabilities Act: 
American Indian or Alaskan native, Asian, black or African-American, Hispanic or Latino, and Pacific Islander.
Given our focus on increasing Pacific Islander access to underrepresented minority programs, we were pleased to hear about this.

I was interested in reading the laws and sharing that info with our readers, as we often try to do for posts that mention public policy. (Blame it on my post-college years as a Congressional aide.) For those who want to see the Illinois state law that includes Pacific Islanders in the definition of underrepresented, here it is: link

Mahalo to the state of Illinois for passing laws that reflect the reality of Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander underrepresentation.


For those interested, here is a cut and paste of the law that defines underrepresented to include Pacific Islanders:

    (30 ILCS 577/35-5) 
    Sec. 35-5. Definitions. For the purposes of this Article:
    "Under-represented minority" means a person who is any of the following:
        (1) American Indian or Alaska Native (a person having
origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America, including Central America, and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment).
        (2) Asian (a person having origins in any of the
original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent, including, but not limited to, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam).
        (3) Black or African American (a person having
origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa). Terms such as "Haitian" or "Negro" can be used in addition to "Black or African American".
        (4) Hispanic or Latino (a person of Cuban, Mexican,
Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race).
        (5) Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (a
person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands).