North Central Massachusetts Minority Coalition
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Three Pyramids, Inc./The Minority Coalition and Heywood Hospital Align Forces to Improve Consumer Engagement

Published Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Barbara NealonThree Pyramids, Inc./The Minority Coalition and Heywood Hospital will partner to use "Freedom Means," the United Press International (UPI) award winning radio program broadcasting since 1972, to develop educational, outreach and communications programming to promote consumer engagement that supports community residents in being active managers in their own health and well being.

"Freedom Means" airs Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. on 105.3 FM and AM 1280 WPKZ radio.  All "Freedom Means" radio shows are placed on The Minority Coalition's website where they are archived and can be heard at any time.

Heywood Hospital Director of Social Services and Multicultural Services, Barbara Nealon will be the new co-host of the "Freedom Means" radio program. Barbara, along with other Heywood Hospital personnel, will help support programming to build community knowledge, understanding and awareness of health disparities, as well as addressing prevention-based social determinants of health.

"I'm excited to be offered this opportunity to promote community education on the issues that affect the North Central Massachusetts communities," said Barbara Nealon. “The Minority Coalition participated in the CHNA 9 Community Health Needs Assessment in the Fall of 2011.  The assessment demonstrated there is a need for more community engagement to promote healthier and safer communities and this is a continuation of what the Health Disparities Collaborative Committee is involved in."

Barbara, who is also co-chair of the North Central Massachusetts Minority Coalition’s Health Disparities Collaborative (HDC), will utilize the "Freedom Means" radio program to inform the public of the HDC's work with area hospitals and health centers related to developing more culturally and linguistically appropriate health services in the region.  HDC works in collaboration with HealthAlliance Hospital, Clinton Hospital, Nashoba Valley Medical Center, and the Gardner, Fitchburg and Leominster Community Health Connections.

Heywood Hospital President & CEO, Winfield S. Brown, MSB, MHA, FACHE, said,  "We are privileged to be part of the “Freedom Means" radio program and to participate in the community support provided by Three Pyramids, Inc/The Minority Coalition. This important public outreach will allow us to create programs based on the needs of our community, communicating vital information which will serve to empower our residents to improve their health and their lives."

For more information, contact, Adrian L. Ford at (aford121@comcast.net) and Barbara Nealon at (nea.b@heywood.org).

State of Emergency - Part One

Published Wednesday, June 29, 2011
By Adrian L. Ford
...it is clear that if people of color and the nation as a whole are to claim a common future, the effort to build that future must be a common task, and a shared responsibility.

As racial and ethnic minority Americans, we understand that our future and the future of our country are one. Yet, as many Americans struggle with the damaging economic effects of "The Great Recession," the future is threatened on two fronts. On the one hand, a perilous gulf continues to widen between us and the rest of America; on the other, the nation is challenged as never before in its struggle to compete in the global marketplace. As the country confronts these complex challenges, it is clear that if people of color and the nation as a whole are to claim a common future, the effort to build that future must be a common task, and a shared responsibility.

A grievous injustice continues to obstruct the path to success for millions of poor, and children of color that are left behind or excluded, not because they are incapable or undeserving, but because society is not embracing their potential.

At the individual level, large numbers of children of color are struggling against profound divisions in the nation’s life opportunities that continue to impede their progress. Research conducted at the RAND Corporation in 2010 found that African American and Latino children are 3.4 times more likely than white children to live in poverty being “deprived of the essential elements needed to improve advancement and success in our society. ”Children of color are facing alarming disparities in most social indicators of success including: academic achievement; quality health care; jobs and career opportunities, and safe and healthy living environments. A grievous injustice continues to obstruct the path to success for millions of poor, and children of color that are left behind or excluded, not because they are incapable or undeserving, but because society is not embracing their potential.

Within the next decade more than half of the student population of America’s public schools, and that means more than half of the future workforce, will consist of minority groups that have historically faced educational inequities.

At the same time in America, the role and expectation of the federal government has forever changed. Efforts of state and local municipalities to address deficits and balance budgets are painfully and disproportionately hurting racial minorities, and other poor and middle- class residents. Additionally, the country’s workforce is aging; the number of retirees is growing, and young people of color are the pool from which the productive workforce of the future will increasingly be drawn.

Within the next decade more than half of the student population of America’s public schools, and that means more than half of the future workforce, will consist of minority groups that have historically faced educational inequities. And as state governments make across- the- board cuts in education, it is obvious that these cuts will be destructive to student’s educational opportunities and to the nation’s economic future as well. Will minority students increase graduation rates from high school and end up in college, or will they drop out of school and continue to be victimized by joblessness, crime, violence, incarceration or even death?

More than a pervasive sense of complacency, we should be ashamed and morally outraged, at the human and economic cost of maintaining the status quo.

Since 1993 Massachusetts has provided $21 billion in new state education funding to school districts across the state. Currently Massachusetts leads the nation in student achievement. While in 2010 the state’s overall high school graduation rates slightly improved, the graduation rates for black and Latino students remained around 20 points behind those of white students. So even in a state that has realized achievements based on progressive education reform policies, like the rest of America, the achievement gaps separating white students from black and Latinos continue to be appalling. To illustrate the powerful urgency of this situation, a recent McKinsey and Company report says this achievement gap is ”the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession.” Moreover, around the country, three-quarters of state prison inmates are high school dropouts, as are 59% of federal inmates. And of the over 1.5 million state and federal inmates in 2008, over 950,000 were black and Latino. More than a pervasive sense of complacency, we should be ashamed and morally outraged, at the human and economic cost of maintaining the status quo.

The key to reversing the persistent disparities in educational equity that confront children of color and other marginalized groups, is to transform and continue to reinvent public education. Because neither the nation nor our children can be assured of success; nor can one succeed, while the other fails.

We desperately need economic and social policies that will combat poverty and unemployment, and create a prosperous, just, and growing economy. And regardless of our circumstances, we need to accept more personal responsibility for our actions, decisions, and behavior. And as parents, as well as other responsible adults, we need to teach our children and model by example; that effort always precedes opportunity. However, it is also clear that none of these objectives can be reached without a quality education for all Americans, not just for a privileged few. The key to reversing the persistent disparities in educational equity that confront children of color and other marginalized groups, is to transform and continue to reinvent public education. Because neither the nation nor our children can be assured of success; nor can one succeed, while the other fails.

Mount Wachusett Community College, whose main facility is located in Gardner, Mass., is providing unique 21st century models of education and skills development, that are resulting in real, successful educational opportunities for black, Latino and other diverse students.

Many leaders, including President Barack Obama, and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, are advocating for an increased role for community colleges that use innovation and multiple approaches to help the least and most advantaged students to transition from high school to adulthood, and increase their life opportunities. In part two, I will explore how Mount Wachusett Community College, whose main facility is located in Gardner, Mass., is providing unique 21st century models of education and skills development, that are resulting in real, successful educational opportunities for black, Latino and other diverse students.


State of Emergency - Part Two

Published Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Advancing Educational Models for the 21st Century

by Adrian L. Ford
Will these policies have a measurable impact on reducing the academic achievement gap that separates white students from black and Latino students? Will these education reforms increase the high school graduation rates of low-income and students of color, and increase their entrance into post-secondary educational institutions?

President Obama's theme of "Winning the Future" has an emphasis on education as a path to a more economically secure future for Americans. The president's Race to the Top is a $4.35 billion competitive grant program for states that adopt the president's education reform agenda. Will these policies have a measurable  impact on reducing the academic achievement gap that separates white students from black and Latino students? Will these education reforms increase the high school graduation rates of low-income and students of color, and increase their entrance into post-secondary educational institutions? As for the 11 states who have won Race to the Top grants for opening up their states to more charter schools, and agreeing to make test scores a component of teacher evaluations and salaries: the jury is still out.

Massachusetts has received a $250 million Race to the Top grant, and Governor Patrick, like President Obama, is looking to community colleges to increase their roles in addressing the nation's education, economic and workforce development needs. Community colleges have a long history of innovative partnerships with middle and high schools that are increasing high school graduation rates, and are ensuring that all students have an opportunity to be college and career ready.

Mount Wachusett Community College is "the only community college in the state with a division dedicated to the K-12 and out-of -school youth pipeline."

Mount Wachusett Community College, under the visionary leadership of its president, Dr. Daniel M. Asquino, has been providing innovative educational models to students throughout North Central Massachusetts for the past 25 years. Kristin Sweeney Moore, assistant dean of the Fitchburg Educational Partnership, says the college is unique in the Commonwealth in many ways. According to Ms. Moore, Mount Wachusett Community College is "the only community college in the state with a division dedicated to the K-12 and out-of -school youth pipeline." She also said that the Division of Access and Transition at the college has 22 programs, including TRIO and GEAR UP, that serve over 3,500 students in the region.  Continue Reading...


Pathways to Change

Published Tuesday, December 02, 2008
The Minority Coalition believes that there are many pathways to accomplishing change. We understand that for some groups, the path for change and progress is based on identity and on working on their own issues and concerns. However, The Minority Coalition is promoting an equally important path to change by seeking cultural common cause among people who may seem different but whose hopes, dreams and aspirations are very much the same. Through this pathway to change we are challenging each other to be better by opening ourselves to other people’s struggles and pain. This path is more difficult to travel. It is about what choices we make and the values and principals we adhere to when we work to bring about change. Our path is about resting power in movements, principals and ideas, rather than in influential individuals. This path is about learning to work across boundaries and not just in our own comfort zones. And about bringing diverse people and organizations together across real and imagined dividing lines. This path is also about promoting personal and societal responsibility and using authentic reflections of ordinary people’s journey around change. The Minority Coalition’s path is about displaying a critical compassion for those on the margins of society and being innovative in creating an environment that unleashes people’s ideas, power, potential and contributions.

We invite you to join us as we work to change the persistent disparities in opportunities, treatment and outcomes. We continue to work through a multiracial coalition to eliminate policies and practices of institutions that consistently advantage some white Europeans and contribute substantially to poor outcomes for other racial and ethnic groups. We are working to reduce the effects of historical and current racism, gender inequality and other forms of privilege, oppression and disadvantage.

The Minority Coalition’s work requires human, technical and financial resources. We are trying to create bridges between and within groups of color and white people to foster thriving, multiracial and multiethnic communities that work for everyone that lives in them. We are supporting parent and resident leadership and helping to bring more people into community decision-making to make sure that all voices are respected, resources are directed more fairly, and that power and wealth are shared

Movement Building and Systems Change

The Minority Coalition works to bring those who are most and least advantaged together for change. Our membership includes college and school leaders, neighborhood residents, members of the banking and business community, health care, human services, government, clergy and others who are creating together a movement for social, gender and racial equity and systems change. They are establishing relationships by building unity and trust across cultures. They are promoting the kind of hope that is made real by embodying transformational change, where real results come from the people. People who develop strategies that address solutions to the underlying problems we face in the 21st century.