Apr 12, 2013 | Permalink »
Budget Proposal Makes Key Investments, But Still Falls Short
By Kisha Bird
On Wednesday, President Obama released his long-awaited budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2014. Typically, the President's budget is released in February. This year, it was pushed back as he and Congress addressed the recent budget sequestration-arbitrary and indiscriminate cuts enacted through the Budget Control Act and the ongoing tug of war to fund the federal government. The President's budget ends sequestration, outlining proposals to increase revenues from high-income earners, but it also reduces federal funding to support low-income working families and communities. With so many already struggling, those proposed reductions have advocates concerned.
Still, the President's commitment to education, research, and infrastructure is certainly reflected in the FY 2014 budget. In addition to making unprecedented investments in early learning, the budget acknowledges investments for disadvantaged and disconnected youth. In this tough political and economic climate, the President's budget proposes:
- Includes $12.5 billion for the Pathways Back to Work Fund, including $2.5 billion for summer and year-round employment for youth and $10 billion for subsidized jobs for low-income adults. The proposed funding for the Pathways Back to Work will require Congress to act, reintroduce and pass bills previously introduced.
Apr 12, 2013 | Permalink »
Supporting Black Male Achievement in Education and Employment: The President’s 2014 Budget
This week, President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2014 Budget. This proposal reflects the Administration's priorities to ensure a world-class education for all students, provide opportunities for employment, and build strong communities. The budget includes several areas of investment that could provide education and employment opportunities for black boys and young men along the age continuum from cradle to career. It also expands supports to low-income communities for revitalization, poverty reduction, increased jobs, and decreased violence.
This budget still has many hurdles to cross, and the outcome is far from certain. The proposed resources, however, are an indication that the President and his Administration understand the need to invest in our youth, the workforce, families, and distressed communities-even in the face of tough choices about reducing budget deficits.
It is important to recognize that these resource allocations alone are insufficient to fully address the large gaps in academic achievement and employment for black youth, or the number of communities that need to be strengthened and rebuilt. In particular, there is a need for far greater investment in older black youth who have been disconnected from school or work. Many of the increased investments reflected in this budget are for competitive grant programs that serve a small number of states or communities. And in some cases, the mandatory or formula program allocations do not reflect the large numbers of youth and their families that we know are in need. Still, we view the resources in this budget as an opportunity to do more than was done in the past to impact outcomes for black males, particularly those in high-poverty communities.
Apr 09, 2013 | Permalink »
132,000 Black Men and Boys are Too Precious to Lose
The gun violence issue most keenly affects black men in America. While black males are 6 percent of the United States population, they constitute 48 percent of the homicide victims who die by firearms in our nation. On average, about 4,900 black males are killed with guns every single year. Between 2000 and 2010, 53,850 black males died by firearms in America. Between now and 2025, if we don't act, more than 68,600 black males will face the same untimely death. That means, in a single generation, over 132,000 of our nation's black men and boys will lose their lives to bullets.
The vast majority of these black males that are dying are young. In 2010, more than half of black male homicide victims were between the ages of 13 and 29. Eighty-six percent were under the age of 40.
Gun violence in black communities, however, is far bigger than the issue of gun reform and whether tougher gun control laws will reduce access to guns. It's really about concentrated poverty. For black males, issues of gun violence are largely concentrated in distressed neighborhoods within communities.
For several decades, these black communities have lacked the infrastructure and resources to make them viable places to live, work, or raise a family. Jobs left these communities decades ago, so employment prospects are few. Their school districts are struggling, and many fail to graduate half of their students each year. Illegal underground markets and gangs have crept into many of these communities, exposing everyone to less safe neighborhoods. The revitalization of some neighborhoods and the return of higher-income residents has pushed long-time low income residents into further concentrated poverty. It should not be surprising to us that crime and violence have been difficult to contain in these communities.
The absence of opportunity for education and economic self sufficiency makes growing up in these neighborhoods difficult for young people, in particular young black boys. Often, it breeds anger, resentment and hopelessness. When black boys in these communities have no positive prospects and the future before them is empty, what are they supposed to do? What are their options? Only the most resilient are able to overcome the devastation in their communities and families to graduate from high school, complete college, move forward into careers and stable lives. The vast majority are left to their own demise.
Often, the media paints gun violence in black communities as some isolated black-on-black issue that has little relevance for the rest of America. Nothing could be further from the truth. Gun violence, and the ensuing death of young black men, is the ugly byproduct of concentrated poverty and lack of opportunity. Failure to address the issues of concentrated poverty in our communities has implications for the nation as a whole. Lost lives equals lost human capital, lost earning power, and lost innovation.
So, when debating gun violence, the biggest issue to be tackled is not how much we control access to automatic weapons or how long of a waiting period we need when someone applies for a license. The biggest issue we face is transforming our most crime-riddled cities into safe, thriving communities where black men and boys have real opportunities to be educated and employed, have the ability to support themselves and their families, and are able to contribute substantially to the growth of their communities and the nation.