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A call for colleges to step up for nontraditional students

JRF | May 12 2011 |

While reading this article about how Elizabethtown College is receiving the 2011 Excellence in Innovation Award for their accelerated adult degree program, I began to think about support for nontraditional students. If colleges enact policies and programs that help or hurt; whether or not professors understand some of the obstacles nontraditional students face and how to help. (Not like the guy in this article, who asked nontraditional student Allison what she meant by that term, “Does that mean you have three legs or something?”

Dr. John Kokolus, Dean of Elizabethtown’s Center for Continuing Education said, “Adult learners are a vital part of Elizabethtown College.”

Are there people at every college who feel this way? Who understand that there are so many more challenges and responsibilities for people who attend school later in life?

As an organization that supports women 35 and older as they earn degrees, JRF tries to constantly reevaluate the scholarship program to best serve the needs of the women who receive awards. Shouldn’t colleges do the same?

What are your thoughts and experiences with support (or lack thereof) for nontraditional students?

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Women earn more degrees than men

JRF | May 04 2011 |

For the first time in history, there are more women than men that hold a master’s degree or higher. According to the 2010 census data, 10.6 million women (25 and older) have either a master’s degree or higher, while men were estimated to earn about 10.5 million.

This trend has been decades in the making since women have been steadily enrolling in college at higher rates than men.

Some other findings from the Census Bureau’s _Educational Attainment in the United States: 2010:
•    20.1 million women have bachelor’s degrees
•    18.7 million men have bachelor’s degrees

Among employed adults:
•    37% of women have bachelor’s degrees or higher
•    35% of men have bachelor’s degrees or higher

A senior fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, Alan Berube, sees how this educational shift is changing more than just statistics. “This is going to change the calculus in households about whose time in the labor market is more valuable," he said. "It will change the default assumptions about who is going to raise kids, who’s going to do housework, who’s got the most earning power.”

More and more women are earning their bachelor's degrees and going on to achieve even higher degrees. We are honored to work with so many women who are achieving their goals of changing their lives through higher education.

To review more information from the report _Educational Attainment in the United States: 2010 click here or read the full article here.

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Wal-Mart v. Women

JRF | Apr 21 2011 |

One of America's most recognized businesses has been accused of unfair practices in pay and promotion. 1.5 million women say their employer, Wal-Mart, discriminates against women. These women are making strides by trying for the largest class action lawsuit in U.S. history.

A ruling in favor of the workers sends the clear message that sex discrimination is illegal and will not be tolerated no matter the employer.

The president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, Debra L. Ness, released a message in support of the victims of sex discrimination. She fears that by not prosecuting Wal-Mart our courts will be sending a dangerous message to other employers.

Ness recognizes the difficulty women face in standing up to discrimination, "women all around the country are experiencing discrimination in the workplace. Some recognize the injustice but fear retaliation or job loss if they speak up. Others may not know that their rights have been violated."

JRF follows the lead of our namesake, Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to congress, who fought for the rights of women and children.

Click here to read the full article. 

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States implement programs to increase college access

JRF | Apr 07 2011 |

The College Access Challenge Grant (CACG) Program has increased yearly funding to $150 million in grants awarded to low-income students enrolling in postsecondary education. The fifteen western states have been challenged along with the federal government and non-profit agencies to promote access and success of low-income and first-generation students.

Some states have launched programs that are dramatically improving education:

•    Nevada pushes to change the culture in their state with “GoToCollgeNevada.org” by making college attendance more attainable and focusing on the value of a college education for every citizen

•    Washington is increasing college enrollment by guaranteeing college tuition for low-income students that meet the College Bound Scholarships standards

•    North Dakota, which is now fifth in the nation for its percentage of 19-year-olds enrolled in college, serves underrepresented tribal students though an online chat service that puts students in communication with college advisors

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) is a great model of resourcefulness in funding higher education. At JRF we partner with many dedicated students who are looking to us for help in achieving their goals in higher education. We are committed to raising awareness and awarding scholarships to low-income women over 35 nationwide.

You can check out the WICHE Western Policy Exchanges brief, which gives more details about state CACG projects in four states.

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Mom’s Other Job

JRF | Mar 29 2011 |

As every parent knows, it’s a full time job raising kids. But what about that other full time job, the one where you have to go to the office?  Many women employed outside the home come across the difficulty of balancing work and family. What do you do when your child needs to come home sick from school, but you are in the middle of a companywide meeting? Instead of having to choose, this list of Working Mother 100 Best Companies spotlights companies that are integrating family friendly policies to help moms be great at home and professionally.

American Express creates their own lingo like, “hub, club, home, and roam,”  which reference the options employees have to move between work locations. Hub is the corporate building, club is an on-site workspace, home is, in fact, their own home and roam is anywhere they can reach Wi-Fi. As American Express works to keep their commitment to flextime, women are flocking to work for them. 65% of their employees are women, and 45% of managers, senior managers and corporate execs are also female.

Marriott International, with over half of top earners being women, has helpful childcare programs, tuition aid, mentoring and networking programs and flextime options. They have grown three fold in the number of female general managers and executives since the start of the corporation. They boast over 600 employees working full time hours from home. This is an uncompromisable option for mothers that need to be home with young kids.

So, who snagged the number one spot? Bank of America sits at the top spot for a host of progressive policies. All new parents, this includes dad too, can take leave for 26 weeks after a birth or adoption and the first three months are leave with full pay. They encourage mothers to be involved in their kids’ academic lives by offering two paid hours per week when moms can volunteer time at their child’s school. If mom wants to be in school herself, Bank of America is happy to assist with $5,250 in tuition aid.

These companies are on the right track. Not only are they showing that flexibility can work, they are making sure that pay gaps and the glass ceiling will be things of the past.

As an organization that supports women, we see the hard choices that many have to make to care for children or relatives or friends. As these initiatives spread, they will benefit more than working mothers. Making sure that women are promoted to executive leadership, and earning salaries that match, are part of this change. For 35 years Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund has awarded scholarships to women nationwide, to help them earn their degrees and secure better careers. It’s nice to see the corporate world is starting to do their part to help women succeed.

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