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!