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Minnesota college students face loan crisis


Minnesota is fifth among U.S. “high-debt states” where college student debt upon graduation on average has surpassed $30,000, says The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS). The 2014 project student debt report that TICAS released last November points out that in 2013 seven in 10 college graduates from public and private nonprofit colleges owe an average of $28,400 in student loans, up two percent from 2012.
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Blacks now finishing high school at record levels


After 30 years of little to no progress, Black youth are completing high school at the highest rates in history.

This is the finding in a new issue brief titled, “Young Black America Part One: High School Completion Rates are at their Highest Ever,” published by the Center for Economic Policy Research, a Washington-based think-tank. The report examines Census Bureau data for 20 to 24 year-olds, and compares high school completion rates around the country over the past 30 to 40 years.
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Age 0 – 3 the focus of achievement gap forum


On March 5, North Minneapolis’ Phyllis Wheatley Community Center hosted Mayor Betsey Hodges’ Cradle to K Public Forum. Roughly 100 Minneapolis parents and community members gathered to voice concerns and add input to the city’s growing factors that contribute to the Minneapolis achievement gap between students of color and their Caucasian counterparts.
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Could Central Corridor gentrification threaten affordable housing?


In a column from last June, I wrote about the lack of affordable housing and its disastrous effects on the Twin Cities’ poor. That particular column addressed the fallout from a foreclosure epidemic that assaulted neighborhoods in North Minneapolis and the East Side of St. Paul as well as critical issues like cost-burdened households and the recent spike in homelessness. The issues of fair and affordable housing remain at the forefront of poverty-related discussions, and on January 19 (MLK Day) the Star Tribune dedicated several column inches to the topic, including its daily editorial and a commentary by Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. Ifill’s commentary skillfully bridges the need to honor Dr. King by calling on us to continue his fight against unfair housing and segregation. Continue Reading →

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Now is a good time to buy a house


To make owning a home more affordable, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will dramatically cut the costs associated with mortgages it backs. The premium for FHA mortgage insurance, which is designed to protect the agency in case a borrower defaults on a loan, will be cut from 1.35 percent of a loan value to about 0.85 percent, the White House said in a recent statement.
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Environmental injustice in the Twin Cities


The modern environmental movement has its roots in social and political ideologies that stretch all the way back to the early 19th century, including the Romantic Movement, the conservation movement, and the early environmental protection societies. Though similar ideas, strategies and conservationist programs continued into the early part of the 20th century, particularly in Europe, it was not until the post-World War II era that environmentalism in America truly began to gain steam. In 1970, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was founded and the inaugural Earth Day was celebrated. Shortly thereafter, organizations such as Greenpeace and the decidedly radical Earth First were spawned. It was also in the 1970s that the United States Department of Energy developed its weatherization assistance program. Continue Reading →

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