By Jueseppi B.
Grant T. Harris
March 28, 2013
Today President Obama welcomed President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Joyce Banda of Malawi, and Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves of Cape Verde to the White House. The United States has strong partnerships with these countries based on shared democratic values and shared interests. Each of these leaders has undertaken significant efforts to strengthen democratic institutions, protect and expand human rights and civil liberties, and increase economic opportunities for their people.
President Obama and the visiting leaders discussed how the United States can expand our partnership to support their efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and promote economic opportunity, both in their countries and across sub-Saharan Africa. A particular focus of the conversation was on the importance of transparency and respect for human rights, and President Obama commended each leader for their work in these areas and their commitment to join the Open Government Partnership. President Obama also commended these leaders for their leadership on food security and engaged the leaders in a fruitful conversation about how the United States can help Africa harness the potential of its young people and empower the next generation of African leaders.
While in Washington, each leader is participating in numerous meetings and events to strengthen bilateral cooperation on a range of shared priorities. Joint events include a dinner hosted by the Corporate Council on Africa to discuss trade and investment opportunities with representatives from U.S. businesses; a public discussion on democratization in Africa at the United States Institute for Peace; an economic and development roundtable with U.S. government officials; and a meeting with Secretary of Defense Hagel to discuss cooperation on shared regional security and peacekeeping objectives in Africa.
The visit of these four leaders underscores the President’s commitment to substantive engagement and strengthenedpartnerships with African nations. A link to the President’s remarks following the meeting can be found here.
College for All: Affordable, Accessible, Attainable
March 28, 2013
Last month, President Obama said in a speech in Chicago, “There is no surer path to success in the middle class than a good education.”
Today, I had the opportunity to speak at the Department of Education’s Higher Education Program Project Directors’ Meeting, which gathered thousands of people who work every day to ensure that more students receive a good education.
Project directors from across the country came together in Washington, DC to discuss how to better serve students in their three program and grant administration areas: Institutional Service (IS), which strengthens institutions that serve largely minority or low-income populations and first-generation college students; Student Service (SS), which works to provide academic preparation, support and career development; and Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), which seeks to help implement, evaluate, and share innovative reforms to improve productivity, efficiency, and completion in higher education.
Their work supports President Obama’s goal for the United States to again lead the world with the highest proportion of college graduates by the year 2020.
To reach this target, we project that the proportion of college graduates in the U.S. will need to increase by 50 percent nationwide by the end of the decade. That means that eight million more young adults will need to earn associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and postsecondary certificates by 2020.
President Obama is committed to increasing access, attainment, and affordability of higher education programs. His commitment to expanding educational opportunity is reflected in the largest investment in student aid since the G.I Bill, so that more students can afford college—he expanded tax credits to help families pay for college, doubled the number of Pell Grants, and led the call to keep student loan interests down.
These are lofty goals. But when I think about my own educational career, and what a difference it made in my own life, I want that for every single student in this country. The President wants it for his daughters. All parents want it for their children. Every child deserves a chance to thrive, contribute to society, and realize their dreams—no matter what their circumstances.
To illustrate this, I told the story of an amazing individual who benefited from one of these federally funded programs.
LaTisha, a young woman from Michigan, took part in the Upward Bound program. She initially had thought only to apply to local colleges. But with the encouragement, mentoring, and responsibilities given to her by the Upward Bound staff, LaTisha applied to most Ivy League schools and got into every single one. She went to Yale, where she gave back to the community by reaching out to local public school students and helping to coordinate a prison education program. Today, she is an elementary school teacher in Indianapolis.
For LaTisha and countless other students, the programs represented at the meeting gave them the tools and confidence to follow their dreams.
I was so inspired by her story, and by the work of all the attendees of the conference who make stories like LaTisha’s possible. Their steadfast commitment to our nation’s students reminds me that together, we can create a better future for everyone in our country.
Valerie Jarrett is Senior Advisor to the President
Students Speak: The Power of STEM
Earlier this month, President Obama met with 40 of the nation’s top scientists and engineers—discoverers of new drug candidates to treat common cancers; inventors of tools to help surgeons in the operating room; developers of complex algorithms that can help robots navigate; and more. All of these innovators were finalists in the 2013 Intel Science Talent Search competition, and all of them are still in high school.
These students are living proof that with the right skills, tools, and opportunities, innovation and discovery can happen at any age. That’s why the Obama Administration is placing a stronger emphasis than ever on equipping the next generation of American innovators in science, technology, engineering, and math—the “STEM” fields.
Students Speak: The Power of STEM
Published on Mar 28, 2013
Earlier this month, President Obama met with 40 of the Nation’s top scientists and engineers—discoverers of new drug candidates to treat common cancers; inventors of tools to help surgeons in the operating room; developers of complex algorithms that can help robots navigate; and more. All of these innovators were finalists in the 2013 Intel Science Talent Search competition, and all of them are in still in high school.
Luckily, there is no shortage of passion among students about the power and “coolness” of STEM. Here’s what some of the Intel competition finalists had to say about the power and potential of science, technology, engineering and math:
“STEM holds the key to changing the world for the better” – Kensen Shi, 17, A&M Consolidated High School, TX
“STEM provides a link between learning and doing, tying knowledge to experimentation and real-world problems” – Adam Bowman, 17, Montgomery Bell Academy, TN
“Pursuing STEM at any age allows you to discover and answer fundamental questions about the universe, from creating frisbee shooting robots to studying the causes behind cancer” – Lillian Chin, 18, The Westminster Schools, GA
“STEM is cool because it provides opportunities to develop new technologies to improve the quality of life” – Kelly Zhang, 17, College Preparatory School, CA
We couldn’t agree more. That’s why, with the help of critical partners at foundations, non-profits, universities, and private-sector companies, the Obama Administration is acting to achieve two ambitious goals: adding one million more STEM graduatesin the next decade, and preparing 100 thousand excellent STEM teachers to give students the skills they need to thrive.
But success isn’t just about increasing numbers. We also know that diversity is one of America’s greatest assets. To build a truly innovative STEM workforce of the future, we must do everything we can to incorporate the full range of the Nation’s talents, skills, and perspectives—including those of communities typically underrepresented in STEM, such as women, girls, and minorities.
Soon after his State of the Union Address last month, President Obama participated in a Google+ Hangout, saying:
One of the things that I really strongly believe in is that we need to have more girls interested in math, science, and engineering. We’ve got half the population that is way underrepresented in those fields and that means that we’ve got a whole bunch of talent … not being encouraged the way they need to.
To that end, as part of our response to President Obama’s call to countries around the world to politically and economically empower women and girls, the White House launched the Equal Futures App Challenge to promote civic education and inspire girls to serve as leaders in our democracy. And, through our broad Tech Inclusion initiatives—including a Tech Inclusion Summit last held at the White House last month—we’re working to expand participation of all youth in tech fields, including underrepresented minorities and girls, by collaborating with community groups, businesses, and organizations committed to the same goal.
There are steps you can take right now to help expand the participation of the Nation’s young people in STEM studies and careers:
Together, we can empower American STEM students to—in the words of Intel finalist Paulomi Bhattacharya, 18 (Harker School, CA) — “look around and imagine something even greater in the hope of bettering society and the world.”
Becky Fried is a Communications and Policy Analyst at the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak at the screening of excerpts from an extraordinary new documentary, “Makers: Women Who Make America.” College and high school students from all over the Washington, DC area came together to watch the documentary, and hear a panel discussion with two incredible women – former Congresswoman Pat Schroeder, and former President of Brown University, Ruth Simmons – both of whom were also featured in Makers.
Linda Douglass, Senior Vice President for Global Communications for Atlantic Media Company, moderated the panel. Linda is a former broadcast journalist who has covered six presidential campaigns.
Statements and Releases
March 28, 2013
March 28, 2013
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