Peace Corps Teams Up with The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities for East Coast Tour

Peace Corps Teams Up with The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities for East Coast Tour


WASHINGTON, D.C., October 13, 2016 – This fall, the Peace Corps has partnered with The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and several other federal agencies to launch a two week tour of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) across the East Coast that will inform students about opportunities to live, learn, and work with communities overseas. As part of the tour, the Peace Corps will travel across eight states in the Peace Car to join the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and USAID in speaking with students, faculty and graduates about international service at 15 HBCU campuses.

During the tour, the Peace Corps will join administrators at Savannah State University on October 31 to officially launch the university’s Peace Corps Prep program

                                    The Peace Car

The Peace Car will be stopping at the campuses listed below. To keep track of its travels at Howard University and Savannah State University, follow the Peace Corps on Snapchat at the username peacecorps.

Fall 2016 HBCU Peace Car Tour:

Thursday, October 20, 2016 – Cheyney University in Cheyney, PA

Friday, October 21, 2016 – Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD
Saturday, October 22, 2016 – Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD

District of Columbia
Saturday, October 22, 2016 – Howard University in Washington, DC
Tuesday, October 25, 2016 – Howard University in Washington, DC

Sunday, October 23, 2016 – National HBCU Conference in Arlington, VA
Monday, October 24, 2016 – National HBCU Conference in Arlington, VA
Tuesday, October 25, 2016 – National HBCU Conference in Arlington, VA
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 – Norfolk State University in Norfolk, VA

North Carolina
Thursday, October 27, 2016 – North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC

South Carolina
Friday, October 28, 2016 – Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 – Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, FL
Wednesday, November 2, 2016 – Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, FL
Thursday, November 3, 2016 – Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, FL

Saturday, October 29, 2016 – Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA
Monday, October 31, 2016 – Savannah State University in Savannah, GA
Friday, November 4, 2016 – Fort Valley State University in Fort Valley, GA
Monday, November 7, 2016 – Spelman College in Atlanta, GA
Monday, November 7, 2016 – Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA
Monday, November 7, 2016 – Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA

About the Peace Corps:  The Peace Corps sends the best and brightest Americans abroad on behalf of the United States to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Volunteers work at the grassroots level to develop sustainable solutions that address challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their service, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today’s global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, nearly 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 140 countries worldwide. For more information, visit and follow us on Facebook  and Twitter.


Helping More Americans Complete College: New Proposals For Success

Helping More Americans Complete College: New Proposals For Success

“We agree that real opportunity requires every American to get the education and training they need to land a good-paying job.” —President Barack Obama, State of the Union, January 12, 2016

At a time when the economy is changing faster than ever before, real opportunity requires that every American get the postsecondary education and training they need to find a good-paying job. President Obama believes that we must help many more Americans graduate from college. Still, far too many students never complete their degree – only 60 percent of those enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program complete their education. Even for those who do complete, at least a third take longer than expected to graduate, forcing them to carry additional costs and leave school with higher debt burdens. The consequences of not completing college are especially severe for students who leave school with debt; borrowers who drop out of college face a three times greater risk of defaulting on their student loans compared with those who graduate.

Since 2009, the Obama Administration has made historic investments in student financial aid that have helped ensure college stays within the reach of American families. It has increased the maximum Pell Grant by more than $1,000, and created the American Opportunity Tax Credit, worth $10,000 over four years of college. It has cut student loan interest rates, saving students up to $1,000 this year, and allowed more borrowers to cap their loan payments at 10 percent of their income through the President’s Pay As You Earn and related income-driven repayment plans. In total, the Obama Administration has increased total aid available to students by over $50 billion from 2008 to 2016, and selected tax benefits by over $12 billion, which has helped our Nation ensure more students are graduating college than ever before. At the same time, the Administration has sought to drive innovations that increase college completion, value and affordability by investing $135 million over the past two years under the First in the World program to scale evidenced-based practices to improve student outcomes and bring down college costs.

Building on this record of progress, today the Administration is announcing significant new investments in the federal Pell Grant program – the cornerstone of college affordability. The two new Pell proposals will help students to accelerate progress towards their degrees by attending school year-round and encourage students to take more credits per term, increasing their likelihood of on-time completion. In fiscal year 2017, these changes would mean an additional $2 billion in Pell Grants for students working toward their degrees.


  • Pell for Accelerated Completion would allow full-time students the opportunity to earn a third semester of Pell Grants in an academic year, enabling them to finish faster by taking additional courses year-round and better meeting the diverse needs of today’s students. Many full-time students exhaust their annual Pell eligibility after just two semesters and, as a result, are unable to pay for summer courses and must wait until the beginning of the next academic year to continue their studies. This proposal will provide nearly 700,000 students next year who are making real progress toward on time graduation with an additional $1,915 on average to help pay for college and complete their degrees faster.


  • On-Track Pell Bonus would create an incentive for students to stay on track or accelerate their progress towards a degree through an increase in the maximum Pell Grant award of $300 for students who take 15 credits per semester in an academic year. The bonus would encourage students to take the credits needed to finish an associate degree in two years (60 credits) or a bachelor’s degree in four years (120 credits). Finishing faster means more students will complete their education at a lower cost and likely with less student debt. This proposal would help an estimated 2.3 million students next year as they work to finish their degrees faster.

Key Administration Proposals to Support College Access and Success:

 Today’s new initiatives would complement existing Administration proposals designed to help more students from all backgrounds succeed in college, by helping to improve student outcomes and increase the number of students who graduate, accelerate degree completion time, make college more affordable, help lower student debt, and ensure students graduate with the knowledge and skills needed in today’s economy. Those include:


  • Making two years of high-quality community college free for responsible students through America’s College Promise, letting millions of responsible students earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree and the skills needed to succeed in the workforce at no cost. America’s College Promise would create a new partnership with states and would require everyone to do their part: Community colleges must strengthen their programs and increase the share of students who graduate, states must invest more in higher education and training, and students must take responsibility for their educations, earn good grades, and stay on track to graduate.


  • Ensure Pell Grants keep pace with rising costs by continuing to index the Pell Grant to inflation beyond 2017 with mandatory funding to protect and sustain its value into the future. The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act signed by the President increased the maximum award by the Consumer Price Index from 2013 to 2017. Without permanent CPI indexing, the purchasing power of Pell will erode, making it harder for students and families to afford college. Indexing the Pell Grant means that, compared with current law, the maximum Pell Grant award will increase by $1,300 in the 2026-2027 award year, resulting in larger awards for 9.2 million students.


  • Rewarding colleges that successfully enroll and graduate students from all backgrounds. The College Opportunity and Graduation Bonus program would recognize and provide a bonus to high-performing colleges that enroll and graduate a significant number of low- and moderate-income students, as demonstrated by high graduation rates for Pell Grant recipients and low cohort default rates, and encourage all institutions to improve their performance.


  • Building effective community college programs in high-demand fields through the American Technical Training Fund. The program would provide competitive grants to support the development, operation, and expansion of innovative, evidence-based, and tuition-free job training programs in high-demand fields. It will enable youth and adults, particularly from low- and moderate-income families, to complete education and training that lead to jobs in high-demand industries and occupations.

U.S. High School Graduation Rate Hits New Record High

U.S. High School Graduation Rate Hits New Record High

Achievement gap continues to narrow for underserved students

 U.S. students are graduating from high school at a higher rate than ever before, according to data released today by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. The nation’s high school graduation rate hit 82 percent in 2013-14, the highest level since states adopted a new uniform way of calculating graduation rates five years ago.

“America’s students have achieved another record milestone by improving graduation rates for a fourth year,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “The hard work of teachers, administrators, students and their families has made these gains possible and as a result many more students will have a better chance of going to college, getting a good job, owning their own home, and supporting a family. We can take pride as a nation in knowing that we’re seeing promising gains, including for students of color.”

What’s more, the gap between white students and black and Hispanic students receiving high school diplomas continues to narrow, and traditionally underserved populations like English language learners and students with disabilities continue to make gains, the data show.

“A high school diploma is absolutely critical, absolutely attainable and key to future success in college, in the workforce and in life. It is encouraging to see our graduation rate on the rise and I applaud the hard work we know it takes to see this increase. But too many students never get their diploma, never walk across the graduation stage and while our dropout numbers are also decreasing, we remain committed to urgently closing the gaps that still exist in too many schools and in too many communities.”


Overall Changes in Graduation Rates
2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 3-yr change (2010-11 to 2013-14)
American Indian/Alaska Native 65 67 69.7 69.6 4.6
Asian/Pacific Islander 87 88 88.7 89.4 2.4
Hispanic 71 73 75.2 76.3 5.3
Black 67 69 70.7 72.5 5.5
White 84 86 86.6 87.2 3.2
Low Income 70 72 73.3 74.6 4.6
English Learners 57 59 61.1 62.6 5.6
Students with Disabilities 59 61 61.9 63.1 4.1
Total 79 80 81.4 82.3 3.3

Achievement Gap Changes

2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14
Black-white gap 17 17 15.9 14.8
Hispanic-white gap 13 13 11.4 11

Since 2010, states, districts and schools have been using a new, common metric—the adjusted cohort graduation rate—to promote greater accountability and develop strategies that will help reduce dropout rates and increase graduation rates in schools nationwide. For four consecutive years, graduation rates have continued to climb, which reflects continued progress among America’s high school students.

To ensure the economic strength of our country, students must graduate high school ready for college, careers and life. The Department has invested more than $1.5 billion in early learning; implemented strategies that improve achievement and close opportunity gaps, and awarded billions of dollars through such grant programs as Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation, and School Improvement Grants; and expanded college access and affordability for families.

To view the graduation rate data—including a state-by-state breakdown—click here.

HBCU Phone-A-Thon Call To Action!!!

As the Affordable Care Act’s coverage provisions have taken effect, 17.6 million Americans have gained coverage, and, since 2010, we’ve reduced the uninsured rate in this country by 45 percent. For  African Americans, more than 500,000 young adults between the ages of 19 and 26 who would have been uninsured now have coverage under their parents’ plan adding to the total of 2.3 million African Americans (ages 18-64) who have gained health insurance coverage, lowering the uninsured rate among African Americans by 6.8 percentage points.

Even with these major strides, too many African-Americans remain uninsured. We must work together to spread the word about new coverage options. This includes working with the states that have yet to expand Medicaid to get as many people covered as possible. To accomplish this, the White House Office of Public Engagement (WHOPE), White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHIHBCU), U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Enroll America (EA) would like to invite the collegiate and graduate members chapters Nation Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) in collaboration with White House Initiative HBCU All-Stars to participate in the HBCU Phone-A-Thon Call to Action.

HBCU Phone-A-Thon Call to Action

The HBCU Phone-A-Thon Call to Action is to engage student leaders, partner Greek organizations, and university/ college officials to work with Enroll America to convene a 4-hour phone bank event between the weeks of January 16th-30th on their campuses (or appropriate venue) to compete for a chance to win a video or phone call from a White House VIP surrogate.

This challenge will work as a component of the White House’s “Healthy Communities Challenge” which seeks to engage key communities with high percentages of uninsured in states across the country.

HBCU Phone-A-Thon Call to Action is a national campaign that seeks to achieve the following goals:

  • Raise awareness in targeted HBCU and surrounding communities about the ACA marketplace, preventive service benefits, enrollment deadlines and coverage options
  • Mobilize local partners, students and volunteers to make chase calls to the uninsured in their communities to remind and encourage marketplace and Medicaid* enrollment.
  • The campus that makes the greatest number of calls during the scheduled 4-hour event will be deemed the winner of the challenge.

To Participate:

Reach out to your local Enroll America Office to begin logistics process. Leaders from your local Enroll America Office will work with leaders to organize logistics, support in volunteer recruitment and training, and provide lists of known uninsured community residents.

Enroll America is the nation’s leading health care enrollment coalition. An independent nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, Enroll America works with more than 4,600 partners in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to create cutting-edge tools, analyze data, inform policy, and share best practices in service of its mission: maximizing the number of Americans who enroll in and retain health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Suggested Participants

  • College Students
  • Young Professionals
  • Sororities
  • Fraternities
  • Local community partners
  • Elected officials
  • College/University administrators and leaders

Target HBCU All-Star Colleges and Universities (not limited to):

  • Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL
  • Florida Memorial University, Miami Gardens, FL
  • Bethune Cookman University, Daytona Beach, FL
  • Spelman College,  Atlanta, GA
  • Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA
  • Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA
  • Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans, LA
  • Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte, NC
  • Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN
  • Fisk University, Nashville, TN

WHIHBCU Announces the 2015 Cohort of HBCU All- Star Students!!

83 Students from 70 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Named 2015 HBCU All-Stars

The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHIHBCUs) today announced its 2015 HBCU All-Stars, recognizing 83 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students for their accomplishments in academics, leadership, and civic engagement.

The All-Stars were selected from more than 450 students who submitted applications that included a transcript, resume, essay, and recommendation. Over the course of the year, the HBCU All-Stars will serve as ambassadors of the WHIHBCUs by providing outreach and communication with their fellow students about the value of education and the role of the Initiative as a networking resource.  Through social media and their relationships with community based organizations, the All-Stars will share promising and proven practices that support opportunities for all young people to achieve their educational and career potential.

“The Obama Administration is committed to promoting excellence, innovation and sustainability across our nation’s HBCUs. This year’s class of All-Stars has distinguished itself as exemplars of the talent that HBCUs cultivate and noble ambassadors of their respective institutions.” said Ivory A. Toldson, WHIHBCUs’ acting executive director. “We are confident these impressive students will help the White House Initiative on HBCUs meaningfully engage with students, showcase their talent and advance our agenda to advance academic excellence at HBCUs.”

In addition, the All-Stars will also participate in this year’s White House HBCU Week Conference in September as well as various national events, web chats with Toldson and other Initiative staff and professionals from a range of disciplines.  The All-Stars will have exceptional opportunities to engage with other HBCU scholars and to showcase their individual and collective talent across the HBCU community.

For more information regarding the 2015 HBCU All-Star Student program and application contact: and follow @WHI_HBCUs on Twitter.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Attached is a list of the 2015 HBCU All-Stars, alphabetical by their hometown state, and including the city they are from, the school they attend and the school’s location.

2015 HBCU All Stars


Greensboro – Jamie Binns, Talladega College, Talladega, AL

Huntsville – Ajiah Graham, J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College, Huntsville, AL

Huntsville – Kedgeree McKenzie, Oakwood University, Huntsville, AL

Tuscaloosa – Avery Brown, Stillman College, Tuscaloosa, AL



Pine Bluff – Sidney Smith, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Pine Bluff, AR



Palmdale – Jynae Jones, Miles College, Fairfield, AL



Denver- Cynthia Hall, St. Philips College, San Antonio, TX



Beachrhell Jacques – University of the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C.



Miami Gardens – AcNeal Williams, Florida Memorial University, Miami Gardens, FL

Miami – Marquise McGriff, Florida Memorial University, Miami Gardens, FL

Orlando, Landon Wright, Bethune-Cookman University, Daytona Beach, FL

Tallahassee, Gilda Brown, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL



Atlanta – Jennifer Smith, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL

Atlanta – Lauren Wiggins, Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN

Atlanta – Rebecca Dorsey, Albany State University, Albany, GA

Atlanta – Chaz Gibson, Howard University, Washington, D.C.

Atlanta – Angelica Willis, North Carolina A&T University, Greensboro, NC

Atlanta – Alayna Robinson, Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans, LA

Augusta – Patrick Outler, Morris College, Sumter, SC

Barnesville – Austin Ogletree, North Carolina A&T University, Greensboro, NC

Covington – Timothy Tukes, Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA

Fayetteville – Lindsey Foster, Howard University, Washington, D.C.

Macon – Vi’Dual Futch, Benedict College, Columbia, SC

McDonough – Zoe McDowell, Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA

Warner Robbins – Shelton Bowens, Savannah State University, Savannah, GA



Fishers – Kasey Hornbuckle, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL



Radcliff – Ralph Williams, Kentucky State University, Frankfort, KY



Baton Rouge – Sally Ross, Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge, LA

Gonzales – Sheirvan Ursin, Jarvis Christian College, Hawkins, TX

Grambling – Temitayo Michael Akinjogunla, Grambling State University, Grambling, LA

New Orleans – Marina Banks, Dillard University, New Orleans, LA



Bryans Road – Aaleah Lancaster, Bennet College, Greensboro, NC

Capitol Heights – Kayla Fontaine, Virginia State University, Petersburg, VA

Cheltenham – Leah Williams, Delaware State University, Dover, DE

Fort Washington – Ravenn Mathis, Bowie State University, Bowie, MD

Fort Washington – Antonia Hill, Spelman College, Atlanta, GA

Laurel – Salematou Traore, University Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, MD

Parkville- Marcel Jagne-Shaw, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD

Owings Mills – Miles Jenkins, Hampton University, Hampton, VA

Waldorf – Danielle Hawkins, Hampton University, Hampton, VA

Woodbine – Mya Harvard, Spelman College, Atlanta, GA



Berrien Springs – Rian Cho, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN



Corinth – English Fields, Rust College, Holly Springs, MS

Edwards – Erica Harris, Hinds Community CollegeUtica Campus, Utica, MS

Greenville – Spencer Davis, Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, MS

Jackson – Nina Hill, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS

Natchez – Jonathan Weir, Alcorn State University, Alcorn, MS



Richfeild – Bryann Guyton, Shaw University, Raleigh, NC



Las Vegas – Maliq Kendricks, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL



Camden – Christoff Lindsey, Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, TX



Far Rockaway – Nathalie Nelson, Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, GA

Cambria Heights- Gionelly Mills, Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, Lincoln University, PA



Charlotte – Elliot Jackson, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, NC

Charlotte – Raven Weathers, Livingstone College, Salisbury, NC

Charlotte – Mona Zahir, Winston Salem State University, Winston, Salem, NC

Durham – Tamina Kienka, North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC

Kinston – Kyle Brown, Winston Salem State University, Winston, Salem, NC

Winston – Salem, Tyler Duncan, Vorhees College, Denmark, SC



Cincinnati – Sierra Blackwell, Fisk University, Nashville, TN

Columbus – Christina Hathcer, Wilberforce University, Wilberforce, OH



Pittsburgh – Kevin Lee, Paul Quinn College, Dallas, TX

York – Kristin Shipley, North Carolina A&T University, Greensboro, NC



Hemingway – Kimesha Cooper, Claflin University, Orangeburg, SC

Orangeburg – Kareem Heslop, Claflin University, Orangeburg, SC

Orangeburg – Samuel Cole, South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, SC

Society Hill – Lamar Butler, Alabama State University, Montgomery, AL



Jackson – Tremaine Sails, Dunbar, American Baptist College, Nashville, TN

Memphis – Taevin Lewis, HarrisStowe State University, St. Louis, MO

Memphis – Keenan Lowery, Lane College, Jackson, TN

Memphis – Tamara Bates, Philander Smith College, Little Rock, AR



Arlington – Mira Bakine, Langston University, Langston, OK

Dallas – Nateisha Choice, Wiley College, Marshall, TX

Fort Worth – Britt Spears, Prairie View A&M University, Fort Worth, TX

Houston – Quentin Monroe, Central State University, Wilberforce, OH

Houston – Francis Vazquez, Texas Southern University, Houston, TX



Racine- Jeanni Simpson- Howard University, Washington, DC



Disputanta – Tatyana Calhoun, University of the District of Colombia, Washington, D.C.

Hampton – McKinley Strother, Elizabeth City State University, Elizabeth City, NC

Richmond – Leah Reid, Virginia Union University, Richmond, VA

Virginia Beach – Jasmine Dunbar, Norfolk State University, Norfolk, VA



St. Thomas – Tonecia Rogers, University of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas, USVI



Enugu – Jude Okanya, Paine College, Augusta, GA



Johannesburg – Andronica Klaas, Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte, NC


The Passing of Executive Director Dr. George Cooper

The Passing of Executive Director Dr. George Cooper

I, along with the entire staff of the White House Initiative on HBCUs, am deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Dr. George Cooper.  Yesterday, I spent some time at Dr. Cooper’s home with his family.  As they mourn, they appreciate the encouragement and support from many people with whom Dr. Cooper has inspired.  Dr. Cooper provided us with guidance and mentorship.  As a supervisor, he was light on giving directives and heavy on imparting wisdom.  We grew under his leadership, as he provided the perfect mix of candor, levity and urgency with dealing with office priorities.  He was interesting to listen to and easy to talk with.  He took joy in blending new and senior perspectives on HBCUs.  His legacy lives on through all of us. – Ivory A. Toldson, Deputy Director

Below are official statements on Dr. Cooper’s passing:

Statement by the President on the Passing of Dr. George Cooper

Michelle and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. George Cooper, the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). As a native of Tallahassee, FL, George’s love of education and HBCUs began as a student at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, continuing his education at Tuskegee University and receiving his Ph. D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana. George spent the majority of his life ensuring that students at our nation’s HBCUs were receiving a quality education and had the necessary resources to succeed and make their communities and our country better. He served on the faculty at several universities including Alabama A&M University, Tuskegee University and as President of South Carolina State University. His service extended beyond working with students at institutions.  For 17 years, he worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, ensuring that HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions were receiving adequate resources to strengthen research and academic programs. George’s passing is a great loss for my Administration, the HBCU and higher education communities and for everyone that knew him.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Diane, family and friends during this difficult time. – Barack Obama, President

Statement by the Secretary of Education on the Passing of Dr. George Cooper

Dr. Cooper made a tremendous contribution that has benefited countless students in a full and extraordinary career.  Throughout his life, Dr. Cooper was committed to promoting excellence, innovation, and sustainability across our nation’s HBCUs.  Dr. Cooper provided the wisdom and direction needed to form important partnerships between HBCUs and the federal government.  He was staunchly committed to student development and success. This Administration has truly benefited from Dr. Cooper’s leadership and will continue our service and advocacy for HBCUs in a manner that follows his passion, persistence, and humility.  Like everyone here who had the opportunity to work with him, I was touched by his kindness, integrity, wisdom, and commitment.  Although he will be sorely missed, his legacy will live beyond him.  On behalf of the entire Department, I send my deepest condolences to his wife, Diane, his children, and the entire Cooper family.  – Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education

Statement by the Chair, President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs on the Passing of Dr. George Cooper

Today we lost a leader, Dr. George Cooper.  My most heartfelt condolences are with his wife, Diane, with whom I spoke earlier today. I have known George for almost forty years.  When I was the Administrative Vice President at Tuskegee University, he was a member of the faculty in the School of Veterinary Medicine.  I asked him to serve on the team preparing for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ reaffirmation of accreditation.  George was a conscientious, energetic and dependable worker.  He was thorough, focused and no-nonsense.  After that, every opportunity I had to have him serve on a committee, I had him do so.  I knew we could count on him. Later, when Dr. Cooper became president of South Carolina State University, our paths crossed often.  His wife, Dianne, my wife, Norma, he and I became good friends. In his most recent role as Executive Director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs, we met just about every Wednesday by phone and attended meetings together in Washington.  George always had the best interests of HBCUs at heart; and as he did forty years ago, he worked hard and conscientiously during his tenure at the White House Initiative for the benefit of the institutions about which he cared deeply.   He will be sorely missed by the community he served. – Chair William Harvey

Statement by CBC Chairman on the Passing of Dr. George Cooper

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are deeply saddened by the passing of Dr. George Cooper, a lifelong supporter of higher education and our country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).  As a former president of South Carolina State University and the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Dr. George Cooper understood well the role that HBCUs continue to play in providing access to higher education for many African American and minority students.  He was a Senior Fellow with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and served 17 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, where he provided key oversight on programs and legislation impacting historically black land grant universities and other minority serving institutions.  Over the course of his life, Dr. George Cooper contributed great service to our country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the impact of his legacy of service as a leader and champion in higher education will be remembered for generations to come. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. – Chair G. K. Butterfield


President Obama Honors the Life of Pastor and State Senator Clementa Pickney

White House Blog Post – President Obama Honors the Life of Pastor and State Senator Clementa Pinckney

Watch the full Eulogy here:

“We are here today to remember a man of God who lived by faith. A man who believed in things not seen. A man who believed there were better days ahead, off in the distance. A man of service who persevered, knowing full well he would not receive all those things he was promised, because he believed his efforts would deliver a better life for those who followed.”

— President Obama, on the late Rev. Clementa Pinckney



WASHINGTON – Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch released the following statement today after the Supreme Court ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project Inc.:

“I am pleased that the Supreme Court has affirmed that the Fair Housing Act encompasses disparate impact claims, which are an essential tool for realizing the Act’s promise of fair and open access to housing opportunities for all Americans.  While our nation has made tremendous progress since the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968, disparate impact claims remain an all-too-necessary mechanism for rooting out discrimination in housing and lending.  By recognizing that laws, policies and practices with unjustified discriminatory effects are inconsistent with the Fair Housing Act, today’s decision lends support to hardworking Americans who are attempting to find good housing opportunities for themselves and their families.  Bolstered by this important ruling, the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act with every tool at its disposal – including challenges based on unfair and unacceptable discriminatory effects.”


The Supreme Court Upholds Critical Part of the Affordable Care Act

FACT SHEET: The Supreme Court Upholds Critical Part of the Affordable Care Act

What You Need to Know About the Affordable Care Act

After nearly a century of work, after decades of trying, after a year of sustained debate, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010. Since then, health reform has become the law of the land and after more than five years under the law, it has been woven into the fabric of an improved American health care system, on which Americans can rely throughout life. And it’s probably impacting your life in ways you do not realize. Young adults can stay on their family’s plan. People losing jobs, changing jobs, or breaking out on their own no longer have to worry about whether they can get health insurance. Having a pre-existing condition or being a woman no longer means you pay for more coverage. And, affordability has improved – from insurance that is there for you when you need it to discounts on prescription drugs in Medicare. 

Here are examples of how the law has already made the health care system better and is providing all Americans with the peace of mind that comes with health security:

  • Better benefits and consumer protections: More than 137 million Americans now have guaranteed access to preventive care, including immunizations, well child visits, certain cancer screenings, and contraceptive services, with no additional out-of-pocket costs as well as no more annual caps on essential benefit coverage and new annual limits on out-of-pocket costs.
  • Dramatic decline in the uninsured, including more young adults covered: We’ve seen the largest decline in the uninsured rate since the early 1970s, and the uninsured rate is now at the lowest level recorded across five decades of data.  Since several of the Affordable Care Act’s coverage provisions took effect, more than 16 million uninsured people have gained health insurance coverage.  Over 4 million young adults have gained coverage, many through the Affordable Care Act’s provision allowing young adults to remain on a parent’s plan to age 26 and its broader expansion of coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplaces and Medicaid.  By the second quarter of 2014, the uninsured rate among young adults had dropped by more than 40 percent.  And a recent study found that over 85 percent of individuals newly covered by the ACA like their insurance.
  • Safer hospital stays: From 2010 to 2013, an estimated 50,000 fewer patients died in hospitals and approximately $12 billion in health care costs were saved as a result of a reduction in hospital-acquired conditions and hospital patients experienced 1.3 million fewer hospital-acquired conditions, a 17 percent decline over the three year period.  The Affordable Care Act also improves care received through incentives that promote quality of care and time spent between patients and doctors.
  • Savings for seniors: More than 9 million seniors and people with disabilities have saved an average of $1,600 per person on their prescription medicine, over $15 billion in all since the Affordable Care Act became law.
  • Numerous affordable coverage options: About 85 percent of those who enrolled in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace (about 8.7 million individuals) qualified for an average tax credit of $272 per month.  About 8 in 10 of individuals signing up for qualified health plans this year had the option of selecting a plan with a premium of $100 or less after tax credits.  And there are more insurance plan options in many areas of the country.
  • More covered by Medicaid: As of April 2015, 12.3 million additional Americans were covered under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program compared to the start of October 2013, when the Affordable Care Act’s first open enrollment began.  To date, 28 States and DC have expanded Medicaid.
  • Savings for hospitals: Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, hospitals saved an estimated $7.4 billion in 2014 because of less uncompensated care, with about two-thirds of the total savings going to hospitals in States that have expanded Medicaid.  Reduced hospital uncompensated care means less of a “hidden tax” for insured Americans.

President Obama’s health care policies have even broader and more transformative implications for the U.S. economy.  The ability to buy affordable plans through a competitive Marketplace will allow countless Americans to move, start businesses, and dream big American dreams – without worrying if an illness will bankrupt them.  And, slowing health care costs have reduced the Federal budget deficit and enabled businesses to invest in jobs and a growing American economy.

While progress has been made, we will continue to work to make health care even better, starting with making sure people understand and benefit from the law.  We will continue to work toward a health care system that results in better care, smarter spending, and healthier people, with an empowered, educated and engaged consumers in the center.  This includes promoting preventive care, securing coverage for all Americans, and further driving down the cost of care to keep our economy strong.  And we’ll continue to work with the 22 States who have not yet taken advantage of Federal funds to expand Medicaid eligibility to over 4 million Americans in need.

PHMSA Offering $2 Million in University Research Grants for Pipeline Safety Solutions

PHMSA 01-15

Friday, April 10, 2015

Contact:  Patricia Klinger

Tel.:  (202) 366-4831


PHMSA Offering $2 Million in University Research Grants for Pipeline Safety Solutions

Grants Support Agency’s Recruitment Efforts

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) today announced that it is offering $2 million in grants for students and faculty at nonprofit institutions of higher education to research pipeline safety solutions – more than twice the amount awarded last year.  In addition to funding potential transportation solutions, PHMSA offers the grants to expose new engineers and scientists to the technical side of the energy transportation sector, supporting the agency’s recruitment efforts.

“The time is now to start investing in long-term safety innovations and retain a highly skilled, federal workforce,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “These grants will encourage students to use innovation and explore new ways to envision pipeline safety solutions for our transportation problems.”

The agency is hiring more than 100 new employees this year, most of whom will serve as pipeline safety inspectors.  The Competitive Academic Agreement Program (CAAP) supports the agency’s oversight of the nation’s exponentially growing energy production and transportation, and helps address the need for new technically trained federal employees.

Launched in 2013, the CAAP has grown based on previous student accomplishments and university interest.  To date, PHMSA has awarded more than $1.5 million to nearly 80 students’ multi-year research projects.  This year’s applicants may receive up to $300,000 for their proposed studies.  The awards are partially matched by non-federal funding.

A third of the federal workforce will be eligible to retire by 2017, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

“We’re not simply offering grants through the Competitive Academic Agreement Program; we’re demonstrating to engineering and technical students that their disciplines are in demand in the energy pipeline sector,” said PHMSA Acting Administrator Timothy Butters.  “PHMSA provides safety oversight for the country’s 2.6-million-mile pipeline network, and we need out-of-the-box thinkers.”

At least 48 hours prior to submitting proposals, applicants should register on PHMSA’s Research & Development website.  Official grant applications are due via on Monday, May 18, 2015. Applicants without a login access should request registration at least two weeks ahead of the grant deadline.

In consultation with other federal and state officials as well as other stakeholders, PHMSA is specifically seeking projects that address technical gaps in the following areas:

  • Preventing and Mitigating Pipeline Corrosion – What innovative new solutions can be proposed in chemical treatments or materials to prevent or manage on-shore hazardous liquid and/ or natural gas pipeline corrosion?
  • Developing Locatable Plastic Pipelines – Excavation damage to buried pipelines can be prevented when professionals detect and mark buried utility lines; however, many plastic pipes can go undetected with current above-ground technology.  Are there effective ways to add or insert electro/mechanical/metallic material to plastic pipes to make it locatable above-ground?  How would you innovate above-ground technology to detect plastic pipes?
  • Developing Inspection Tools to Quantify Pipe Strength and Toughness – How would you develop tools to accurately quantify pipeline strength and toughness which would allow pipeline operators to better understand and manage risks?

Proposals are evaluated on their scientific merit and quality as well as the feasibility of their management plans, work tasks, budgets and schedules.  In the long run, PHMSA intends to adopt the most promising findings into its core research program for further investigation.  For more information, potential applicants should read the full grant solicitation on  Users can find the solicitation and announcement by searching with CFDA number 20.724 or Funding Opportunity Number DTPH5615SN0003.


The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration develops and enforces regulations for the safe, reliable, and environmentally sound operation of the nation’s 2.6 million mile pipeline transportation system and the nearly 1 million daily shipments of hazardous materials by land, sea, and air.  Please visit for more information.