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. 


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