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.



No comments: