Support for education and Internet libraries

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Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been having activities for over a decade.

Its first activities have been in 1994 and ever since then, they have been working in three mayor areas:

  1. Global development program,
  2. Global health program,
  3. United States Program in education development.

With the motto: Every person deserves to live healthy, productive life, all the foundation’s grant making and advocacy efforts support this mission statement.

The main focus of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is in:

  • agricultural development,
  • financial services for the poor,
  • water, sanitation and hygiene

  • global libraries and

  • special initiatives.

  • In respect to the education segment support by the Foundation, their goal is very noble, since they aim towards having most of the world’s population having access to computers and Internet, empowering the students with tools needed for education, business and other opportunities.

    By working closely with parents to provide free access to computers and the Internet in thousands of public libraries in emerging economies and in the United States, they are strengthening the educational basis of the future learners. By 2025 they will try to help in dramatically increasing of the number of students, who need to graduate from high school, to get ready for college and be able to complete a degree with real value in the workplace.

    In the recent press release on education activities from 14 November 2012, they state that as the post-secondary financial aid is not serving students, as it could. In this sense the foundation will work on the existing proposals to make changes to federal financial aid programs, focus on protecting current recipients or addressing fiscal constraints.

    They would reimagine the system from the ground up – presenting a design that would address the needs of today’s students and today’s funding challenges. In order to address this issue, in September 2012, the Foundation has launched the Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery (RADD) project.

    With RADD, $3.6 million will be given as grants to 16 organizations, with a stake in higher education policy. The scope of grants is in various interests for the students, institutions and business groups. At the end of each grant funded project, a white paper will be published by each organization, where an original perspective on how financial aid can help more students be successful in college, will be presented.

    The ultimate goal for RADD is to spark a robust discussion about how financial aid can be used as a level to increase student success, especially for low-income and middle-income students. The project field of innovative policies that can improve student success, will be introduced.

    Outcomes presented in the white papers will include clear students’ and institutional incentives to increase educational attainment, consider the known funding shortfalls in the Pell Grant program, move beyond incremental adjustments to the existing programs, be research-driven, and safeguard against unintended consequences. The papers for this project will be released by the grantees in the beginning of this month and will be concluding in January 2013.

    Federal financial aid programs are not new – they were created in 1965 to equalize access to postsecondary education in the United States. Nearly $175 billion, student aid represents the government’s single biggest investment in education. Flowing to virtually every corner of postsecondary education, it provides grants, loans and work-study to more than 15 million students each year.

    This federal investment in financial aid is critically important to ensuring all low-income young adults, who stand to benefit post-secondary education students to have affordable access to one that provides the highest quality instruction, tailored to their needs, learning styles, and career goals, and a degree or certificate with labour market value.

    To illustrate the benefits of this type of support, it can be added that Pell Grant was established in 1971 and ever since then college enrolment has improved by 78 per cent, whereas degree completion has only increased by four per cent among 23-year olds. In addition to this, nationwide, just 49 per cent earn a degree within six years.

    Recent statistics shows that nearly 1/3 of borrowers have student loan debt, but no degree – which has to change. It is an established fact that the U.S. economy needs more highly-skilled workers than the post-secondary system is producing.

    There is an increasing mismatch between the qualifications of those entering the labour market and employer needs. With this landscape in perspective there is an opportunity to explore new ways of helping students, so that they are encouraged and supported, from start to finish.

    As only about half of all students who start a post-secondary program, manage to complete it, the federal financial aid could continue to be a key to ensuring access, while also helping to make completion a priority, for both students and schools.

    With the RADD project, the foundation’s overall commitment is to help students obtain the credentials they need. In this manner, they will be more competitive in the workforce market, will help institutions improve, while managing costs in tough times and enable prosperous development in future.

    Here are the priority areas of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in learning aspects’ support:

    • Education
    – work to make sure high school students graduate ready for success and prepared to earn postsecondary degrees,

    – fund college and graduate school scholarships,

    – support high-quality early learning programs in Washington state.

    • Libraries:
    – support efforts to supply and sustain free public access to computers and the Internet through local public libraries.

    • Pacific Northwest:
    – assist struggling families by supporting innovative community organizations located in the Pacific Northwest and efforts that help break the cycle of homelessness.

    • Special Initiatives:
    – explore new ways to increase opportunities or respond to unique challenges in the United States.

    Currently there are grants that support Postsecondary Education and Emergency Relief efforts. The Foundation also offers support to many dedicated and innovative community organizations in the Pacific Northwest. They use advocacy to raise awareness of the issues we face, inform government policy, and develop new and innovative ways of financing initiatives that improve outcomes.

    You can explore further the United States Program topics: • Early Learning • Emergency Relief • High Schools • Family Homelessness • Libraries • Pacific Northwest Community Grants • Postsecondary Education • Scholarships
    Education programs’ overview

    For more information, you can download the Foundation’s brochure at:
    Foundation brochure

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