Poor College Students Lives Matter

Access to college for low-income students has become easier since the passing of the 1965 Higher Education Act, but graduation rates for those receiving financial aid show a disparity amongst their wealthier peers.

Annie Waldman of Propublica writes,”An estimated 51 percent of Pell recipients – students whose families typically make less than $30,000 year- graduate from college, compared to 65 percent of non-Pell recipients.” The inequality is causing attention.

Last year, Propublica in conjunction with government data, featured a new tool to determine the debt students face by institution and found that while some colleges offer financial support, many don’t guide students onto a successful career path afterwards. Some don’t admit students based on their financial merits alone.

During last years State of the Union Address, President Obama urged Pell Grant inflation, in order to alleviate stress for recipients in financial need. Between the years of 2008 and 2014, Pell Grants have on average reduced the cost of education by $3,700 dollars.

The United States Department of Education is urging postsecondary institutions to improve the relationships they have with low income students, who more often than not tend to be minorities.




Healthy eating habits have small price

Healthy_foodDollar deal on fast food, or a more costly, healthy option? That is the dilemma many people face every day.  A new study confirms what we have already assumed—healthy food choices cost more opposed to their unhealthy counterparts. 

However, those who are avoiding breaking the bank should not be alarmed. Harvard medical school researchers concluded that a day’s worth of the healthiest diet cost about $1.50 more than the least healthiest.

Researchers looked at studies that previously  compared healthy and unhealthy version of certain foods (what people ate and how much it costs) in 10 countries, including the United States, Canada and several European nations and  middle-income countries Brazil and South Africa.

According to the study, among food groups, meats  had largest price differences, whereas the healthier options (lean beef) cost  $.29 more than less healthy options (fatty cuts).

Those trying to maintain a healthy diet should consider if $1.50 more a day will really have a substantial impact on their wallets as it could on their weight. 

New Program Helps NYC Immigrants Attain the “American Dream”

Many immigrants make the decision to come to the United States for access to the better opportunities available here. Yet, too often these immigrants end up settling for jobs in which they are overqualified for because their foreign degrees are not recognized in the U’S. It is unfortunate that so many immigrants either go underemployed, or even unemployed, when they could be helping to enrich our economy by practicing their different specialties.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation recognized this problem and has taken the initiative to pilot the Immigrant Bridge Program. This program is the first of it’s kind in the U.S., helping connect highly skilled immigrants to jobs in their field of work.

To read the full article about the Immigrant Bridge Program click here.

Obviously, this program will not revive the economy or be the solution to all immigrants’ problems, but it can be a step in the right direction. Perhaps it will help American’s who are against immigration reform realize how beneficial immigrants can be to our country.

Teen Pregnancy on the Decline in NYC

The Health Department developed the Teens in NYC – Protection mobile app as a way to provide access to free health reproductive services.

Go ahead, and pat yourself on the back, Bloomberg; teen pregnancy is on the decline.

According to new data released by the Health Department, teen pregnancy has decreased in the last decade by 30 percent, and dropped five percent between 2010 and 2011.

“For teens who are having sex, it is important to use birth control and condoms to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “The Teens in NYC mobile app provides information in ways that are familiar to teens so they can access to these services.”

The mobile app, Teens in NYC – Protection,  provides educational outlets and services for both young women and men., including the Young Men’s Initiative, which gives access to reproductive health services.

“The City’s efforts over the last decade have already led to fewer teens becoming pregnant each year in New York City,” said Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs. “Health care guidelines created through the Young Men’s Initiative will help even more teens avoid unintended pregnancy so they can finish their education.”

There are nearly 87 percent of pregnancies that are unintended. While abstinence will prevent unintended pregnancies, for those who are engaging in intercourse can educate themselves with the mobile app.

Of the five boroughs, the Bronx sits atop the list of teen pregnancies with 95.9 of 1000 pregnancies. Health agencies have started a Bronx based initiative called Bronx Teen Connection in Hunts Point and Morrisania.

The city has seen its fair share of controversial ads as a way to address the hard facts of teen pregnancies as well as Plan B is now accessible to 15-year-olds and older.

The app is available for all phones, including the iPhone and Android.

Pic: NYC.gov

Cough Up A Lung, Where I’m From…New York City?

According to a report by the American Lung Association, New York City makes the list of cities with high levels of ozone and particle pollution.

No, this isn’t the remix to Jay-Z’s Where I’m From (Marcy Son), but according to a new report by the American Lung Association, New Yorkers are breathing in high levels of polluted air.

Researchers of the American Lung Association measured the levels of ozone and soot in the air in close to 1,000 cities across the nation between 2009 and 2011. Results showed that some cities had improved from last year and residents were breathing in cleaner air. However, results also showed that some cities had gotten worse.

New York City joined the company of Los Angeles, Houston and Dallas of cities with high levels of polluted air.

“The long-term trend is positive and headed to much cleaner air,” said report author Janice Nolen, assistant vice president of national policy and advocacy for the American Lung Association. “[However], there is an uptick in some areas that are a concern and some areas where the problem remains very, very serious.”

It is only expected for New York City whose landscape is comprised more of skyscrapers and tight spaces than grass and gridlock traffic.

More than 1.1 million adults have asthma and are seen in eight percent of school-aged children, which is attributed to the air quality in urban areas.

The cleanliest cities included Bismarck and Rapid City of North and South Dakota respectively.

Maybe Mayor Michael Bloomberg had something here with his congestion pricing plan.

Pic: Wikimedia

Tobacco Products Out of Sight, Out of Mind?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg propose the Tobacco Product Display Restriction and Sensible Tobacco Enforcement bills with hopes to decrease youth smoking.

Bloomberg is at again.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is again tackling health issues, this time gearing his focus towards young smokers, proposing the Tobacco Product Display Restriction and Sensible Tobacco Enforcement bills, which would restrict outward display of tobacco products and illegal cigarette smuggling respectively.

“New York City has dramatically lowered our smoking rate, but even one new smoker is one too many – especially when it’s a young person,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Young people are targets of marketing and the availability of cigarettes and this legislation will help prevent another generation from the ill health and shorter life expectancy that comes with smoking.”

The smoking rate in adults have decreased from 21.5 percent in 2002 to 14.8 percent in 2011 and in young smokers have remained steady at 8.5 percent since 2007. Despite these findings, smoking deaths are one of the leading preventable deaths of New Yorkers.

“Thousands of New Yorkers die each year of tobacco-related causes,” said Council Member Levin. “If we can keep just one young person from smoking then that is a step in the right direction. I fully support these efforts that prevent smoking and promote good health.”

Promoting good health is a common gesture for the New York’s legislators, who’ve banned trans fat and is currently appealing the blocked soda ban, that would curb obesity among children. “Eliminating enticing tobacco displays and low-cost cigarettes from unscrupulous vendors will yield tremendous health dividends that will compound in the future. Our children deserve that future,” said Councilman James Gennaro.

The illegal selling of single cigarettes to youths have declined due to Department of Consumer Affairs Tobacco inspections, and have seen a compliance of 91 percent from 52 percent in 2002. The Sensible Tobacco Enforcement would continue to decline the sells of discounted cigarettes and allow fair competition between retailers. Violators can expect fines and/or revocation of license.

Bloomberg isn’t the only one wanting to prevent youth smoking. Texas Senator Carlos Uresti recently proposed a bill that would raise the smoking age to 21, stating, “more than 503,000 kids under the age of 18 will die prematurely from tobacco.”

Death is just a few of the harsh dangers of smoking.The U.S. government recently ruled for the Federal Drug and Administration to create new labels and to ditch the graphic cigarette warning labels.

Smokers looking to quit can call 311 or 1-866-NY-QUITS, or visit nyc.gov. The Health Department’s Nicotine Patch and Gum Program runs through March 21.

Pic: Google Images

Could Superstorm Sandy Help Generate Utility Advocacy in New York?

PHOTO: CON ED PREFERS TO GET THEIR HANDS DIRTY -- Workers work to clean post-Sandy damage

PHOTO: CON ED PREFERS TO GET THEIR HANDS DIRTY — Workers work to clean post-Sandy damage (vosizneias.com)


New York City stands as only one out of 10 states without utility advocacy, an office that would essentially stand as the middle man between the consumers and utility companies, compromised of people like engineers and auditors. Our city is not particularly known for consumer advocacy, but the call for such a group could come to the forefront while Con Edison seeks $400 million to be paid by customers.

What does this mean for your bill? Customers can assume a 3 percent rise in electric bills and 1.3 rise in  gas bills, according to an article by Crains. While the dollar amount isn’t incredibly daunting it still amounts to about $2.91 for electric and $2.67 for gas.

According to an article by the Downtown Express, David Gmach, director of public relations for Con Edison, stood before a crowd of potentially frustrated Greenwich Village residents who had lost their power after Superstorm Sandy. Out of the 1.1 million residents that suffered the same, or worse, fate, 230,000 of those people were Manhattan residents. And now residents are being expected to help Con Ed fix something the company didn’t care to fund in prevention?

In an article by The New York Times, it was suggested that from the utilities perspective it is cheaper to “clean up the mess” than it is to generate preventative measures. Somehow, this all doesn’t add up. In 1999, post the rolling blackout Manhattan faced that sweltering summer, three scientists were hired by Con Edison to inspect the failure. According to the Times and the resulting analysis, the scientists found that their reports were far different than the reports by Con Ed’s executives in respect to their needs for improvement. In summary, the scientists concluded that not only did cables need to be inspected more, but that Con Ed work on preventative measures and study their systems more closely. While Con Ed might consider it cheaper to “clean up the mess,” that blackout set their budget soaring from $187 million to $297 million. Maybe they considered the $28 million they had to spend on investigating cheap, but a budget jump of over $100 million doesn’t seem so.

In response, the Times also sited that critics of the proposition are interested in seeking a solution in creating a “public advocates office.” While the utility does not take a side on whether the public should fund another “oversight entity” besides their own, states like California and Pennsylvania have saved their consumers money by doing so. The article states that according to reports by the two states, they saved their consumers over $4 billion.

According to articles in both the Times and Downtown Express, marine scientists, amongst others, predict that Sandy could have essentially been our first warning for something worse in the future. It it unsure whether federal funding will play a part in rescuing Con Ed from the financial flood they’re experiencing.