African-Americans at risk from unusual optometry practice

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By Joseph Hammond, Urban News Service

When Pat Raynor developed cataracts she hoped her optometrist would simply refer her to a qualified eye surgeon. But the 65-year old Virginia woman said the optometrist who handled her routine eye exams seemed more interested in business than medicine. He pressured her to accept a form of care known as co-management in which he – rather than the surgeon – would handle post-operative checkups.

“When I went home, I kept thinking about it, and I knew something was not right,” Raynor said, explaining her decision to seek successful treatment out of state. Raynor is one of the millions of Americans who develop cataracts – a common condition of aging in which a thick film that develops in part of the eye can lead to cloudy vision or in some cases a loss of vision if left untreated. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world. More than half of all people in the United States will have a cataract or have had cataract surgery at the age of 80.

Evidence suggests that African-Americans like her may be more prone to certain types of cataracts. A study published in the Ophthalmology edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 54% of African-American nursing home residents suffered from cataracts versus only 37% of whites.

That also makes African-Americans especially vulnerable to the ticking time bomb regarding eye care buried in the Medicare Act of 1992. Guidelines adopted then allowed a practice known as “co-management” for eye-surgery. In most surgical procedures the operating surgeon is responsible for post-operative care. Under a co-management relationship, an ophthalmologist or eye surgeon performs say a cataract operation on a patient with that patient’s optometrist performing post-operative care.

Optometrists are technicians who are specialized in preserving vision and the overall health of the eye. On average optometrists attend four years of college as well as graduate school. Though a few optometry schools allow applications from students, who didn’t complete an undergraduate degree. Some optometrists later earn doctorate degrees

The requirements for ophthalmologists are far more strenuous. After completing an undergraduate degree, they attend four years of medical school. Their medical degree complete a would be ophthalmologist then spends several years getting hands-on training. Usually, an internships which last at least one year is followed by three years of residency. Some also complete an additional fellowship year as well. Conversely, optometrists usually do not work in internships at hospitals or supervised residencies at medical facilities.

Co-management was intended for use only in limited circumstances, particularly by rural patients who might have trouble reaching an ophthalmologist. Instead, it has become a mechanism for sweetheart deals between optometrists and ophthalmologist who reward each other through mutual referrals.

Today roughly nearly one in five cataract surgeries are performed in a co-managed relationship experts say with almost all of them taking place in urban areas.

Since most elderly African-Americans live in urban areas, they stand a higher risk of being steered toward such arrangements.

Most individuals do not experience complications after eye surgery. But for those that do the consequences can be severe, especially if there follow-up care is with an optometrist, who is not a medical doctor, rather than an ophthalmologist. In 2009, a scandal at a veteran’s hospital in California revealed that many individuals treated for cataracts could have potentially had better health outcomes if they were treated by ophthalmologists.  Some individuals were blinded.

Nevertheless, many health care professional argue co-management offers safe and efficient care. “With the continued focus on patient-centered care, the co-management of surgical patients, such as those having cataracts removed or laser surgery, is the standard and optimal approach to pre- and post-operative care,” said Christopher J. Quinn. O.D., president of the American Optometric Association in a written statement to the American Media Institute, “…This is especially true in underserved areas, as it is estimated that 90% of people in the U.S. live within 15 minutes of a doctor of optometry. Co-management allows patients to receive care from a doctor they already know and trust, maintaining their patient-doctor relationship.”

Quinn also noted that optometrists and ophthalmologists have been co-managing patients for decades in many jurisdictions and that the practice is recognized in all 50 states recognize. He also said that co-management can occur in other types of medicine.

But those arrangements can be especially murky when it comes to eye care. A 2006 survey by the National Consumer League found that only 30% of consumers knew the difference between optometrists and ophthalmologists.

For her part, Raynor said that it important that patients be given the information they need – regarding both medical capabilities and financial relationships among providers – in order to make informed choices about their vision.

“A lot of people can’t afford cataract surgery, and I would have probably gone through with co-management but, I didn’t have a credit card,” she said.

She is glad she had her care overseen by ophthalmologist. “After my ordeal, I am just thankful to have my eyes, and now I can see even better than before cataracts, I was having a hard time just seeing and focusing. You know there used to be a house I would drive by this beige house but, after my cataracts were removed, I noticed the house was in fact pink.”

Urban News Service

Famed for “Immortal” Cells, Henrietta Lacks is Immortalized in Portraiture

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In life, Virginia-born Henrietta Lacks did not aspire to international renown—she didn’t have the luxury. The great-great-granddaughter of a slave, Lacks was left motherless at a young age and deposited at her grandpa’s log cabin by a father who felt unfit to raise her. Never a woman of great means, Lacks wound up marrying a cousin she had grown up with and tending to their children—one of whom was developmentally impaired—while he served the 1940s war effort as a Bethlehem steelworker.After the Axis fell and her husband’s work died down, Lacks delivered three additional children, for a total of five. Sadly, fate denied her the chance to watch them grow. Visiting a hospital with complaints of a “knot” inside her, Lacks received news of a cancerous tumor in her cervix, which had escaped doctors’ notice during the birth of her fifth child. Treating Lacks’s cancer with crude radium implants—standard operating procedure in 1951—doctors were unable to save her life. At the age of 31, the person known as Henrietta Lacks ceased to exist.

And yet, curiously, a small biological part of Lacks lived on. Tissue samples collected as a part of her radiation treatment proved surprisingly robust in the lab. Doctors were accustomed to tissue samples dying off quickly once removed from their hosts, and were shocked at the unflagging replication rate of the cells from Lacks’s cervix.

Physicians recognized the value of Lacks’s tissue samples, but did not feel any ethical obligation to inform her surviving family of their work. As days, weeks, months and years passed, the initial samples continued cell reproduction with no signs of faltering, opening the door to all sorts of previously impossible disease testing. As copies of Lacks’s cells—dubbed “HeLa” cells as a nod to their source—circulated among the global scientific community, paving the way for such breakthroughs as Jonas Salk’s famous polio vaccine, Lacks’s family was never notified. Not only did they not affirmatively consent to the use of Henrietta’s tissue samples for continued research, they didn’t even know about the remarkable properties of HeLa tissue until 1975, when the brother-in-law of a family friend asked offhand about the Lacks cells his National Cancer Institute coworkers had been studying. For more than two decades, the Lacks family had been kept in the dark.

Lacks’s descendants never received compensation and were never asked for input, despite the ongoing worldwide use of Lacks’s cells for biomedical research into diseases running the gamut from HIV to Ebola to Parkinson’s. Her children welcomed the addition of a donated grave marker to her unmarked plot in 2010—“Here lies Henrietta Lacks. Her immortal cells will continue to help mankind forever.”—but the public debate over her exploitation by the scientific community rages on. Her story has been the subject of a widely acclaimed 2010 book and a 2017 HBO feature film produced by and starring Oprah Winfrey.

In the lead-up to the 2017 film, African-American portraitist Kadir Nelson, commissioned by HBO, set out to capture Lacks in a richly colored, larger-than-life oil painting. That visual rendering of the woman whose cells have saved millions was just jointly acquired by the National Museum of African American History of Culture and the National Portrait Gallery, and will be on view on the first floor of the latter through November 4, 2018.

“Nelson wanted to create a portrait that told the story of her life,” says painting and sculpture curator Dorothy Moss. “He was hoping to honor Henrietta Lacks with this portrait, because there was no painted portrait that existed of her.”

Continue onto Smithsonian to read the complete article.

The iGen iEverything Train is Coming, but Are You Ready?

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Technology is being consumed at an ever increasing rate causing executives, managers, and process improvement experts on the factory floor to re-define the methods of training and dissemination that have become obsolete.

Critical skills and tribal knowledge are being lost as boomers retire and training plans for new employees fall short of preparing workers for the sophistication of the new manufacturing environment.

Move over millennials, here comes the IGen! Born between 1995 and 2005 this group of tech savvy natives is the next cohort and are just now entering the workforce. IGen, or Gen Z as they are often referred, have grown up in a world of social media where Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter reign supreme. These kids are a force to be reckoned with and require access to information in ways that are familiar, immediate, and actionable. Our success depends on them because as the IGen goes, so goes the manufacturing industry, the nation, and the world.

Alliance Resource Group, in partnership with Sify Technologies has pulled together experts from manufacturing, academia and automated methodologies to develop a solution that addresses the manufacturing challenge of this next generation and identifies the key components of a successful framework including content management, dissemination methodology, scalability, and integration with current learning management systems. These components constitute a micro-learning strategy that facilitates current and future state requirements.

Alliance Resource Group (ARG), is a service disabled veteran owned business located in Newport Beach California. With a foundation in resource management, recruiting, and consulting,  ARG provides services to small and medium size companies throughout the United States.

View the ARG White Paper here! Better be prepared for total process transformation if you want to remain competitive.

A Leading Voice in Diversity and Inclusion in Tech

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Wayne Sutton

Wayne Sutton is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Change Catalyst and its Tech Inclusion programs. Change Catalyst is dedicated to exploring innovative solutions to diversity and inclusion in tech through the Tech Inclusion Conference, training, workshops and the Change Catalyst Startup Fellows Program.

Sutton’s experience includes years of establishing partnerships with large brands to early stage startups. As a leading voice in diversity and inclusion in tech, Sutton shares his thoughts on solutions and culture in various media outlets, where he has been featured in TechCrunch, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. In addition to mentoring and advising early stage startups, Sutton’s life goal is to educate entrepreneurs who are passionate about using technology to change the world.

Wayne has over 14 years’ experience in technology, design, and business development. Wayne has been recognized as one of the Silicon Valley 100 coolest people in tech, one of the 52 hottest new stars in Silicon Valley, one of the 46 Most Important African-Americans In Technology by Business Insider and one of the Top 100 most influential black people on social media in 2014.

In 2014 Wayne co-founded BUILDUP, a non-profit designed to support an inclusive ecosystem of entrepreneurs through educational workshops and fellows program for underrepresented tech founders. In 2011, Wayne co-founded the NewMe Accelerator, the first minority led startup accelerator/incubator in Silicon Valley which was featured in CNN Black in America 4. Prior to NewMe he worked in media in Raleigh, NC for NBC17 and the News and Observer. In 2009, Wayne was the co-founder of TriOut, a mobile location-based startup in Raleigh, NC which exited. Wayne has worked with large brands, Inc 500 companies and advises several technology startups. With a passion for community Wayne has organized Social Media Conferences, tech meetups, and hackathons such as the world’s first Food Hackathon, which assembled leading food innovators, chefs, developers, designers and entrepreneurs to collaborate on solutions in the food ecosystem.

Wayne has been featured on CNN, BBC, USA Today, TechCrunch, Mashable, Black Enterprise, and various online media outlets. Being an early adopter, Wayne was one of the first 1000 users on Twitter, which has led to a loyal following not only on Twitter, but also Facebook and Google+. His blog SocialWayne.com has been ranked one of the 50 best technology and social media blogs in the world over the years.

Wayne is a past TED attendee in 2012. With a passion for education and storytelling, Wayne has spoken at several universities and major internet and technology focused conferences, such as Stanford, UC Berkeley, Duke, UNC, NC State, TEDx, World Wide Web(WWW) Conference, O’Reilly Web 2.0 Expo, South By South West (SXSW), DockerCon 2015 and for the U.S. Embassy Jamaica during Global Entrepreneurship Week 2015.

Source: socialwayne.com

CVS Health Fights Back on High Cost Drugs by Launching Industry’s Most Comprehensive Approach to Saving Patients Money

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cvs health logo

New CVS Health initiative seeks to solve one of the nation’s most pressing problems and a major source of consumer financial worry.

Recognizing the threat of rising drug prices and high out-of-pocket costs, CVS Health providing most advanced solutions for prescribers, pharmacists and patients.

CVS Pharmacists are key resource for patients in identifying opportunities to maximize their prescription benefits and save money at the pharmacy counter in communities nationwide.

CVS Caremark mitigating impact of high drug costs by providing members and prescribers with robust information and innovative tools to choose lower-cost prescription drugs.

The high cost of prescription drugs is one of the nation’s most pressing problems and a major source of financial worry for consumers across the nation. While CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) has made significant progress in mitigating the impact of high list prices set by pharmaceutical manufacturers, for too many Americans annual out-of-pocket drug costs are still significant. In response, CVS Health announced today that it is fighting back by launching the most comprehensive program in the industry to help patients save money on their medications.

According to a recent national poll, commissioned by CVS Health, 83 percent of Americans said they were concerned personally about the impact of rising prescription drug prices.[1] As prescription drug prices continue to rise and enrollment in high deductible health plans grows, many patients are shouldering higher costs for their prescription medicine.

CVS Health will address this problem with a robust set of initiatives, including the new CVS Pharmacy Rx Savings Finder, which will enable the company’s retail pharmacists for the first time to evaluate quickly and seamlessly individual prescription savings opportunities right at the pharmacy counter. This new tool further enhances existing savings opportunities the company’s pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) CVS Caremark is currently offering its clients such as the preventive drug lists that make medications for many common, chronic conditions available at a $0 copay. In addition, CVS Caremark provides real-time, member-specific drug costs and lower-cost alternatives to prescribers through their electronic health record system and to CVS Caremark members through the member portal and newly updated app. These programs are part of CVS Health’s commitment to helping consumers find the lowest cost prescription drugs by offering more pricing transparency for prescribers, pharmacists and patients.

“Today’s consumers are faced with higher prescription drug prices than ever before and many of them are now paying for a larger share of their prescription drug costs out of their own pockets at the pharmacy counter due to growth in high deductible health plans,” said Thomas Moriarty, Chief Policy and External Affairs Officer, CVS Health. “Until now, patients haven’t had the appropriate tools available to them to help them manage these costs. To address this, CVS Health is giving expanded tools to patients, prescribers and pharmacists so they can evaluate prescription drug coverage in real-time and identify lower-cost alternatives. We are committed to finding the right drug at the lowest possible cost for patients to ensure they are able to access and stay on the medications they need. That’s our promise.”

At the Pharmacy Counter

The new CVS Pharmacy Rx Savings Finder enables the retail pharmacist to quickly and seamlessly review a patient’s prescription regimen, medication history and insurance plan information to determine the best way for them to save money on out-of-pocket costs – with the primary goal of helping the patient find the lowest cost alternative under their pharmacy benefits plan.

“Our direct experience is that patients who are confronted with high out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy counter are less likely to pick up their prescriptions and are less likely to be adherent to their prescribed therapy,” said Kevin Hourican, Executive Vice President, Retail Pharmacy, CVS Pharmacy.

“Armed with the information available through our Rx Savings Finder, our more than 30,000 CVS pharmacists can play an important role by helping patients save money on their medications, providing advice on how and when to take them, and ultimately helping them achieve better health outcomes,” Hourican added. “We are beginning this process with our CVS Caremark PBM members and expect to roll it out more broadly throughout the year.”

The Rx Savings Finder will show pharmacy teams:

  1. First, if the prescribed medication is on the patient’s formulary and is the lowest cost option available.
  2. Second, if there are lower-cost options covered under the patient’s pharmacy benefit – such as a generic medication or therapeutic alternative with equivalent efficacy of treatment.
  3. Third, if the patient may be able to save money by filling a 90-day prescription rather than a 30-day prescription.
  4. Finally, if neither a generic nor a lower-cost alternative is available, other potential savings options for eligible or uninsured patients where allowed by applicable laws and regulation.[2]

Pharmacists can also help patients enroll in the ExtraCare Loyalty Program and sign them up for Pharmacy and Health Rewards. Through Pharmacy and Health Rewards, patients receive $5 in ExtraBucks for every 10 prescriptions filled, earning up to $50 in ExtraBucks annually.

At the Doctor’s Office

Another component of the company’s comprehensive savings approach is the recently launched real-time benefits program, which helps bring greater drug price transparency to prescribers and CVS Caremark members. At the point-of-prescribing, providers are able to see the member-specific cost for a selected drug, based on a member’s coverage, along with up to five lowest-cost, clinically appropriate therapeutic alternatives based on the patient’s formulary. PBM members have access to the same information on the CVS Caremark app and member portal. Early results show that prescribers accessing the real-time benefits information through their electronic health record switched their patient’s drug from a non-covered drug to a drug on formulary 85 percent of the time. In addition, when the patient’s drug is covered, prescribers using real-time benefits switch their patient to a lower-cost alternative 30 percent of the time. When the prescriber switched to a lower-cost drug, the difference was approximately $75 per prescription.
“We have been working hard to keep prescription medications affordable for patients,” said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health. “In fact, in 2017, nearly 90 percent of our PBM plan members spent less than $300 out-of-pocket for their prescription medicines. While this signals progress, for those patients that cost is not insignificant. That is why we are committed to doing even more across our enterprise to help patients find and access the lowest cost drug at the pharmacy which ultimately will help improve clinical outcomes and remove higher downstream medical costs from the system.”

Using Pharmacy Benefit Management Solutions

CVS Health is also making a variety of PBM solutions available to help further drive down drug trend for its PBM clients and drug costs for the patients they support. The company’s Point of Sale (POS) rebate offering allows the value of negotiated rebates on branded drugs to be passed on directly to patients when they fill their prescriptions – and the savings from this program can be significant. In 2013, CVS Health led the industry with the introduction of POS rebates to clients, and today nearly 10 million members are covered by and able to benefit from the program.

In 2017, despite manufacturer brand list price increases on drugs near 10 percent, CVS Health PBM strategies reduced drug trend for CVS Caremark commercial clients to the lowest level in five years, keeping drug price growth at a minimal 0.2 percent. In fact, 42 percent of CVS Caremark commercial clients spent less on their pharmacy benefit plan in 2017 than they had in 2016. CVS Caremark helped members reduce monthly out-of-pocket costs and improve adherence to its highest level in seven years in key categories such as diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia.

Prescription drug trend is the measure of growth in prescription spending per member per month. Trend calculations take into account the effects of drug price, drug utilization and the mix of branded versus generic drugs as well as the positive effect of negotiated rebates on overall trend. The 2017 trend performance is based on a cohort of CVS Health PBM commercial clients, employers and health plans.

About CVS Health

CVS Health is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through its more than 9,800 retail locations, more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with more than 94 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, expanding specialty pharmacy services, and a leading stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, the company enables people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable and effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at https://www.cvshealth.com.

###

[1] The Morning Consult poll was conducted from February 22-26, 2018, among a national sample of 1992 registered voters. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

[2] Prescriptions submitted for reimbursement to Medicare, Medicaid or other federal or state programs are not eligible.

New Doctors Break Barriers in Engineering

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Women Engineering Graduates

According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), minority women comprise fewer than 1 in 10 scientists and engineers in the United States. Studies from researchers around the world reveal that one antidote to this disparity is to ensure there are more role models in underrepresented communities.

Three Florida A&M University (FAMU) female doctoral students, who are also best friends, recently received their doctorates in engineering. They endured setbacks, including the loss of a classmate, and overcame financial hurdles to ensure that they join the next generation of engineering leaders who will help close that gap.

On April 29, Miami native and Fulbright Scholar Renee Gordon, pictured left, received her doctorate of philosophy in mechanical engineering; Miami Beach native and Winifred Burks-Houck Professional Leadership awardee Shannon Anderson, pictured right, received her doctorate of philosophy in civil engineering, with a concentration in environmental engineering; and Birmingham, Alabama, native and NSF International Research Experiences grantee Marcella Carnes received her doctorate of philosophy in civil engineering with a concentration in structures.

Each earned their doctorate degrees under the guidance of FAMU’s School of Graduate Studies and Research and through support as participants in the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering Title III Funding Program. They are considering next steps, including job offers and research opportunities. In the meantime, Gordon and Anderson will spend the summer teaching and helping to recruit the next generation of engineering students, while Carnes prepares for her wedding.

“We realize that we’re breaking barriers when it comes to minorities and also women in STEM fields,” Gordon said. “I feel like it’s really important for our young Black and Brown boys and girls to know that they can aspire to be whatever they want to be, including engineers.”

Carnes added, “I feel proud to be an African-American woman in the STEM fields. There’s not that many of us (women). We’ve been challenged because STEM is male dominated, (but) we are examples of the things that you can set your mind toward and finish. We are no longer ‘Hidden Figures.’ We have definitely been revealed.”

In addition to inspiring the next generation to break barriers, the trio wants to encourage them to pursue careers that will improve our way of life. They say the best place to develop a career that makes a difference is at FAMU.

“Not only did we receive the financial support, but we also received emotional support; we received the bond that we share in this community and a family that’s striving to achieve the same goal. We have a shoulder to lean on when we feel like we can’t move on,” said Carnes, who also enjoyed unique opportunities when she studied abroad in Poland as a part of a program that allowed her to study civil engineering at campuses in four countries.

“FAMU’s programs have been a tremendous help in assisting us both academically and professionally. The faculty and staff have been amazing,” Gordon said.

Anderson, who completed two engineering fellowships in California, including the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium Summer Fellowship at the University of California, explained how her experience at FAMU empowered her to embrace her culture and who she is as a scholar.

“The most important thing that FAMU has taught me is confidence in myself. My education process from middle school all the way up to my bachelor’s was at predominantly white institutions where I felt like the odd one out in honors classes, gifted classes and advanced placement classes,” she said. “At FAMU, I felt like ‘I am actually supposed to be here,’ and everyone is on equal footing, not just skin color-wise but also education-wise.”

The women agree that confidence helped the trio work through system crashes, equipment failure, multiple trials and errors, and even with overcoming tragedy, as they all worked toward the finish line of their education.

In 2014, they suddenly lost colleague Tarra M. Beach, an environmental engineering doctoral candidate. She passed away before she received her doctorate. Her goal was to “contribute to the sustainability of the environment and work on STEM education with underrepresented children.”

“She would have been the first woman to graduate with her engineering Ph.D., from the Title III program at FAMU. So, we were next in line to just follow her example, her dedication, her passion and drive,” Anderson said.

Beach’s legacy helped motivate the young women to complete their goals.

Gordon explained the loss of Beach and earning a degree in a field where women and ethnic minorities are underrepresented taught her and her friends the lesson of a lifetime: Nothing is impossible when you persevere.

“It was tough, but we had each other. We stayed connected. Just keep on going. Be determined. Be persistent,” Gordon said.

Photo Credit: Adam VL Taylor/FAMU
Source: blackprwire.com

Twitter is now specifically focusing on increasing black, Latinx and female representation

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Twitter met or surpassed many of the diversity and inclusion goals it set for itself for 2017, the company announced today. Twitter is now 38.4 percent female, compared to 37 percent in 2016. Regarding underrepresented minorities at Twitter, representation increased from 11 percent in 2016 to 12.5 percent in 2017.

While Twitter increased the overall representation of women and underrepresented minorities, it missed its goals for overall representation of underrepresented minorities, as well as underrepresented minorities in technical roles. At the leadership level, Twitter went from 30 percent female in 2016 to 32.5 percent female in 2017, and underrepresented minorities now account for 10.1 percent of employees at the leadership level, compared to just 6 percent in 2016.

Moving forward, Twitter intends to set two-year goals but will continue its practice of releasing yearly diversity reports. The rationale for the two-year period, Twitter VP of Intersectionality, Culture and Diversity Candi Castleberry Singleton explained in a blog post, is to better enable Twitter to assess its progress, “develop specific programming, and adapt our strategies along the way.”

Twitter is also now specifically looking at increasing the representation of women, black and Latinx people — groups that continue to be underrepresented in tech. Twitter is 3.4 percent black, 3.4 percent Latinx and 38.4 percent female. By 2019, Twitter wants to be 43 percent female, 5 percent black and 5 percent Latinx.

“We’re focused on powering positive change by fostering respectful conversations, creating deeper human connections, and encouraging diverse interactions across the company,” Singleton wrote in a blog post. “We’re calling this strategy Intersectionality, Culture and Diversity (ICD) and we’re making it a part of everything we do at Twitter.”

Continue onto TechCrunch to read the complete article.

Meet Danielle Olson: A ‘Gique’ Advancing the Case for STEAM Education

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Danielle Olson

What is a “Gique”? It’s a cross between “geek” and “chic,” a maker and creative problem-solver whose interdisciplinary interests turn STEM into STEAM. Meet Danielle Olson, researcher and PhD student at MIT and proud founder of Gique, a nonprofit that provides transformational, culturally situated STEAM learning for underserved youth.

Olson says being a Gique is about using your passion to embrace change and create your dream job. Olson offered STEMconnector her insights and experience as an engineer, a dancer, a dreamer, and pioneer in STEAM education, as well as research on how the arts are leveling the educational playing field in STEM.

Interview below courtesy of Stemconnector

STEMconnector: How does using the arts impact the STEM talent gap?

Danielle Olson: Fortunately, a new and exciting field of education is emerging where curricula are designed to expose youth to the applications of science, technology, engineering, art and design, and mathematics (STEAM) in the real world. STEAM, rather than just STEM, education focuses on student cultivation of the critical, creative, and participatory dispositions key to empowered, authentic engagement in both science and art, along with preparing students to think of ways that they can contribute to society as individuals.

The arts have been treated as a “cherry on top” in recent years. But research demonstrates that an arts education offers critical development opportunities for children, which include cognitive and social growth, long-term memory improvement, stress reduction, and promotion of creativity. In fact, research findings show that if arts were included in science classes, STEM would be more appealing to students, and exposure to experts in these fields could affect career decisions. Gique believes that STEAM education affords students opportunities to envision themselves pursuing their “dream careers,” which they may invent for themselves.

There are three categories that aid in representing various perspectives of art integration: (1) learning “through” and “with” the arts, (2) making connections across knowledge domains, and (3) collaborative engagement across disciplines.

Gique piloted a 9-month-long, out-of-school STEAM Program with students at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester, an inner-city in Boston, Massachusetts, in the areas of science, the arts, and entrepreneurship by putting the theoretical framework, which underpins the necessity for STEAM education, into action.

SC: What kinds of lessons do you offer students?

DO: Gique designs and provides free, hands-on educational programs and mentorship to talented youth from diverse circumstances in the Boston area and in California. We create a safe, positive learning community for our students and cultivate their curiosity and self-esteem through two arms of programming:

  • Gique’s Science Can DANCE! Community Programs—provides youth with a way to explore STEAM through creative movement and dance choreography. By taking an integrated approach to breaking down technical concepts, we provide a unique mentorship opportunity for students interested in both arts and science topics.
  • Gique’s Out-of-School Time (OST) STEAM Program—a 9-month-long, weekly after-school program for middle school students to explore their personal interests in STEAM. This program enables students to receive long-term mentorship from innovators from around the world and participate in hands-on workshops and field trips. By the end of the semester, students gain a better understanding of how they can take an idea from concept to reality through innovation with art + design, science, and technology.

In addition to these two programs, Gique has provided a wide variety of educational opportunities to people of all ages in the Boston area for the past four years. We have collaborated with numerous organizations to provide educational programming, including MIT Museum, Harvard Museum of Science & Culture, Artisan’s Asylum, and General Assembly Boston.

SC: How can corporations that support a vibrant STEM workforce get involved in advancing STEAM education?

DO: First, corporations should stand with teachers and parents to fight back against policies that discourage interdisciplinary education. This may include, but is not limited to, policies that result in art, drama, history, and science class time reduction and policies, which discourage teachers from being innovative due to too much focus on standardized testing.

Second, people in power must use their influence to help give underrepresented groups more access to resources that can level the playing field in education. I had access to programs like FIRST Robotics Competition and MIT’s Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science Program, which changed my life, thanks to the generosity of donors investing directly in people of color by sponsoring these programs. However, I wouldn’t have been able to participate in these programs if I had to pay for them. That’s why Gique leverages the support of its sponsors to deliver life-changing experiences to students that help them pursue career dreams that they may have deemed impossible.

SC: How is Gique measuring its impact?

DO: We have a structured process in place to design, administer, and analyze quantitative and qualitative measurements, including pre- and post- assessments, audio/video interviews, and external feedback (from program staff/volunteers and parents/guardians).

Specifically, for Gique’s OST STEAM Program, a schema was developed to identify, both broadly and specifically, what students learned and in what context it applies to their lives. Prior to each term, the program leadership developed several goals for student impact, with measurable indicators to assess each goal. Assessment questions were adapted from the Museum of Science Boston’s Engineering is Elementary program assessment model. At the end of the semester, students completed the same assessment for the program leadership to understand what deltas occurred and what the development areas were for program improvement.

While the quantitative data collected often helped to inform strategic decisions and content choices, the qualitative data showed how the program impacted students, parents, volunteers and teachers. Gique wholeheartedly believes that learning experiences should be fun, so asking these qualitative questions were critical to the development and success of the pilot OST STEAM program.

Gaining parent/guardian feedback served to be an excellent indicator of how excited students were about the program.

Visit Gique’s community of leaders and makers at gique.me

Source: stemconnector.com

 

 

California hiring underrepresented groups in renewable energy industry

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By Carol Zabin and Robert Collier

As California policymakers speed up the state’s switch to renewable energy, a key question is this: Do the much-touted new green jobs actually go to a diverse cross-section of the state’s workforce, or are disadvantaged communities left out?

According to data obtained and analyzed by researchers at University of California Berkeley’s Labor Center, the answer is that in recent years, a significant share of strong, career-track jobs in the construction of renewable energy power plants statewide have, in fact, gone to low-income residents and people of color.

Our recently issued report shows that the joint union-employer apprenticeship programs used in these projects have played an important role in diversifying California’s clean energy workforce.

In Kern County, local data shows that 43 percent of entry-level electrical workers on solar power plant construction lived in communities designated as disadvantaged by the California Environmental Protection Agency, while 47 percent lived in communities with unemployment rates of at least 13 percent.

Kern County electrical apprentice pay schedules show a clear progression toward the middle class. Current first-year apprentices start at $16.49 per hour plus full benefits and receive wage increases as they move through their five-year training program. Graduates become journey electricians earning more than $40 per hour.

Statewide, the picture is similar. Among the 16 union locals of electricians, ironworkers, and operating engineers that have built most of California’s renewable energy power plants, about 60 percent of new apprentices were people of color.

Diversity varied by trade. Latinos, who make up one-third of the state’s labor force, represented 53 percent of new apprentice ironworkers, 34 percent of electrical workers, and 23 percent of operating engineers. While African-Americans are 6 percent of the statewide labor force, they made up 4 percent of new apprentice electricians, 6 percent of ironworkers, and 9 percent of operating engineers.

The presence of military veterans in these programs also was higher than in California’s workforce as a whole. While veterans are only 4 percent of statewide workers, they comprised 9 percent of new electrical apprentices, 6 percent of ironworkers, and 12 percent of operating engineers.

The weak point in these apprenticeship programs, as with the rest of California’s construction industry, was the participation of women, ranging from only 2 percent to 6 percent among the three trades.

All told, the track record shows that California has made progress toward broadening access for disadvantaged workers to good jobs in the clean energy economy. But this diversity has not been automatic. A key driver of progress is the fact that most renewable energy plants were built under project labor agreements, which ensure union wage and benefit standards and free training for low-skilled workers through state-certified apprenticeships. Recruitment efforts by unions and the projects’ locations were also important since many renewable power plants are in counties such as Kern that have high unemployment and concentrations of low-income communities.

Looking forward, job access in the clean energy industry can be advanced by adopting specific programs such as publicly funded pre-apprenticeship training and local-hire provisions, in combination with project labor agreements.

Additional progress is likely if state lawmakers approve SB 100, which would commit California electricity providers to obtain 100 percent of their power from clean energy sources by 2045. This would drive further growth of renewable energy construction, which in turn would create more jobs and more openings in state-certified apprenticeship programs. The net result would be an important step forward along California’s path to meeting its climate challenge while simultaneously broadening access to middle-class jobs.

About the Authors
Carol Zabin and Robert Collier are director and policy specialist, respectively, of the Green Economy Program at the Center for Labor Research and Education at UC Berkeley.

Source: startrends.xyz

 

Chance The Rapper, Google Team Up To Give $1.5 Million Toward STEM In Chicago Schools

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The Chicago rapper is advocating for more computer science education in his hometown.

Chance the Rapper is like Santa to Chicago Public Schools.

The three-time Grammy winner teamed up with Google to bring computer science education to students in the Chicago area. The tech giant will give a $1 million grant to Chance’s nonprofit, SocialWorks, and $500,000 directly to Chicago Public Schools.

The company announced their donation on Wednesday, after Chance surprised fifth graders at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Academy during a coding lesson with Google employees as a part of Computer Science Education Week. The grant will also help teachers incorporate computer science and arts curricula in their classrooms.

“We’re honored to support SocialWorks’ mission to help underrepresented students in Chicago reach their full potential, as well as Chicago Public Schools’ efforts to turn computer science into a pathway for creative expression,” Google.org principal Justin Steele said in a statement. “There’s so much talent and creativity in the communities that these schools serve — and Chance The Rapper embodies what can happen when that creativity is unleashed. With exposure to computer science, students can use technology to turn their creative passions — whether that’s art, writing, music or something else — into something bigger.”

Justin Cunningham, executive director of SocialWorks, said the donation “sheds light on another pathway to success” for Chicago’s youth.

Continue onto the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

This Geriatrician Says To Do These 5 Things to Live Longer

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A healthful diet can reduce risk for disease and increase longevity

Good nutrition plays an important role in how well you age. Eating a healthful diet helps keep your body strong and can help reduce your risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke and osteoporosis. Studies even show a link between healthful eating and longevity.

“As we age, the body becomes less efficient at absorbing some key nutrients. Appetite and taste can suffer from loss of sense of smell and taste or from side effects of medications. Bad teeth can make some foods difficult to chew or digest,” said Arthur Hayward, MD, a geriatrician and the clinical lead physician for elder care with Kaiser Permanente’s Care Management Institute. “So choosing foods carefully is smart.”

Here are five tips to help you get the nutrition your body needs:

  1. Avoid empty calories.

Foods with empty calories may contain very few vitamins and minerals. “Convenience foods,” such as packaged snacks, chips and sodas, are common sources of empty calories. Avoid the “bad” carbs—foods that have white flour, refined sugar and white rice.

  1. Choose nutrient-rich foods.

Eat a variety of foods. The more you vary the foods you eat, the more vitamins, minerals and other nutrients you get. For example:

* Eat lots of fruits and vegetables—Choose fresh, frozen or no-salt canned vegetables and fruits in their own juice or light syrup.

* Eat foods with protein—Protein is found in lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs and cheese, cooked beans, peanut butter and nuts and seeds.

* Get enough calcium and vitamin D—Calcium and vitamin D are found in milk and milk products, including yogurt and cheese. They are also in green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens) and tofu.

* Include foods high in vitamin B12—After 50, the body produces less gastric acid and absorbs less B12, which helps keep blood and nerves vital. B12 is found in milk, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs.

* Eat high-fiber foods—This includes fruits, vegetables, cooked dried beans, and whole grains.

  1. Drink plenty of fluids.

Drink plenty of fluids—enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water. Fiber and fluids help with constipation.

  1. If your appetite is poor, eat smaller meals.

Try eating smaller meals, several times a day, instead of one or two large meals. Eating while socializing with others may help your appetite. You might also ask about changing medicines. Medication can cause appetite or taste problems.

  1. Eat soft foods.

As we approach our senior years, chewing food is sometimes difficult. Choose low-sodium canned vegetables or cooked fruits and vegetables. These are often softer. Chop or shred meat, poultry or fish. Add sauce or gravy to the meat to help keep it moist.

For healthy recipe ideas, check out Kaiser Permanente’s Food for Health blog at https://foodforhealth.kaiserpermanente.org.

In addition to eating a balanced diet, aim for 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Ten-minute sessions several times a day on most days are fine. For more information, visit kp.org and everybodywalk.org. For questions or advice about a specific condition, talk with your physician.

Source: NewsUSA

3 Things to Know Before You Pick a Health Insurance Plan

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Choosing a health insurance plan can be complicated. Knowing just a few things before you compare plans can make it simpler.

  1. The 4 “metal” categories: There are 4 categories of health insurance plans: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. These categories show how you and your plan share costs. Plan categories have nothing to do with quality of care.

Which metal category is right for you?

Bronze

  • Lowest monthly premium
  • Highest costs when you need care
  • Bronze plan deductibles — the amount of medical costs you pay yourself before your insurance plan starts to pay — can be thousands of dollars a year.
  • Good choice if: You want a low-cost way to protect yourself from worst-case medical scenarios, like serious sickness or injury. Your monthly premium will be low, but you’ll have to pay for most routine care yourself.

Silver

  • Moderate monthly premium
  • Moderate costs when you need care
  • Silver deductibles — the costs you pay yourself before your plan pays anything — are usually lower than those of Bronze plans.

Gold

  • High monthly premium
  • Low costs when you need care
  • Deductibles — the amount of medical costs you pay yourself before your plan pays — are usually low.
  • Good choice if: You’re willing to pay more each month to have more costs covered when you get medical treatment. If you use a lot of care, a Gold plan could be a good value.

Platinum

  • Highest monthly premium
  • Lowest costs when you get care
  • Deductibles are very low, meaning your plan starts paying its share earlier than for other categories of plans.
  1. Your total costs for health care: You pay a monthly bill to your insurance company (a “premium”), even if you don’t use medical services that month. You pay out-of-pocket costs, including a deductible, when you get care. It’s important to think about both kinds of costs when shopping for a plan.

When choosing a plan, it’s a good idea to think about your total health care costs, not just the bill (the “premium”) you pay to your insurance company every month.

Other amounts, sometimes called “out-of-pocket” costs, have a big impact on your total spending on health care – sometimes more than the premium itself.

Beyond your monthly premium: Deductible and out-of-pocket costs

  • Deductible: How much you have to spend for covered health services before your insurance company pays anything (except free preventive services)
  • Copayments and coinsurance: Payments you make each time you get a medical service after reaching your deductible
  • Out-of-pocket maximum: The most you have to spend for covered services in a year. After you reach this amount, the insurance company pays 100% for covered services.

So how do you find a category that works for you?

  • If you don’t expect to use regular medical services and don’t take regular prescriptions: You may want a Bronze plan. These plans can have very low monthly premiums, but have high deductibles and pay less of your costs when you need care.
  • If you qualify for extra savings on out-of-pocket costs OR want more of your costs covered: Silver plans probably offer the best value. If you qualify for extra savings (“cost-sharing reductions”) your deductible will be lower and you’ll pay less each time you get care. But you get these extra savings ONLY if you enroll in Silver plan. This can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year if you use a lot of care. Even if you don’t qualify for extra savings, Silver plans offer good value — moderate premiums and deductibles, and better coverage of your out-of-pocket costs than a Bronze or Catastrophic plan provide.

If you expect a lot of doctor visits or need regular prescriptions: You may want a Gold plan or Platinum plan. These plans generally have higher monthly premiums but pay more of your costs when you need care.

  1. Plan and network types — HMO, PPO, POS, and EPO: Some plan types allow you to use almost any doctor or health care facility. Others limit your choices or charge you more if you use providers outside their network.

Types of Marketplace plans

Depending on how many plans are offered in your area, you may find plans of all or any of these types at each metal level – Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

Some examples of plan types you’ll find in the Marketplace:

  • Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO): A managed care plan where services are covered only if you use doctors, specialists, or hospitals in the plan’s network (except in an emergency).
  • Health Maintenance Organization (HMO): A type of health insurance plan that usually limits coverage to care from doctors who work for or contract with the HMO. It generally won’t cover out-of-network care except in an emergency. An HMO may require you to live or work in its service area to be eligible for coverage. HMOs often provide integrated care and focus on prevention and wellness.
  • Point of Service (POS): A type of plan where you pay less if you use doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers that belong to the plan’s network. POS plans require you to get a referral from your primary care doctor in order to see a specialist.
  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO): A type of health plan where you pay less if you use providers in the plan’s network. You can use doctors, hospitals, and providers outside of the network without a referral for an additional cost.

Source: Healthcare.gov

The V Foundation is helping fund cancer research in the black community

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Fund in memory of Stuart Scott focuses on poor survival rates among African-Americans

“Don’t give up … don’t ever give up.” These words were a staple for North Carolina State’s legendary basketball coach and ESPN commentator Jimmy Valvano. The V Foundation, formed in 1993 by ESPN and Valvano, raises money for cancer research. A huge part of the foundation’s mission is to build more opportunities for cancer research in minority communities.

There are more than 15.5 million cancer survivors today. Survival rates for many cancers continue to increase. New technology and a better understanding of genetics have allowed doctors to create individualized therapies, leading to more success. But according to the American Cancer Society, African-Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial/ethnic group in the U.S. for most cancers.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent data, black men have the highest cancer incidence rates, and black men and women both have a higher cancer death rate than their white counterparts. Cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanics, accounting for 21 percent of deaths overall and 15 percent of deaths in children.

To combat the problem, the V Foundation, through the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund, is allocating dollars to minority researchers to fight cancer in minority communities. The funds will help continue Scott’s fight against cancer and assist some of the most vulnerable and disproportionately affected communities battling the disease.

The Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund was formed by the V Foundation and Scott’s family. Near the end of his life, Scott participated in a clinical trial. He was a passionate voice for improving outcomes for African-Americans and other minorities with cancer. The Scott Fund supports research designed to discover why some cancers are more aggressive and more fatal in African-Americans.

“It was not lost on Stuart that his diligence and education about cancer research helped extend his life,” said Susan Scott, Stuart Scott’s sister. “Stuart’s passion for education was unmatched. He researched every aspect of his treatment to live with and beat cancer. His research revealed cancer’s disparities and the inequities faced in the African-American and Hispanic cancer-fighting communities. I know that he would be proud that the V Foundation is setting up this fund in his name to accelerate research for all communities.”

Continue onto The Undefeated to read the complete article.

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