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Aspiring Americans Scholarship Application Released

Undocumented and DACA-Eligible Students Encouraged to Apply
Oklahoma City, OK, February 15, 2018– Aspiring Americans has announced the beginning of the application process for the Aspiring Americans Scholarship 2018, a scholarship benefitting students displaying high academic achievement who do not qualify for federal financial aid. Luis Hidalgo program director of Aspiring Americans said this morning: “The Aspiring Americans Scholarship is a yearly effort to reward those students in the community who despite all obstacles, have chosen to continue their education demonstrating commitment and strong moral character.” Over the last 3 years, Aspiring Americans has been able to award tens of thousands of dollars to students across Oklahoma thanks to generous donations from community members, businesses, and universities.  The application process will be open from February 15, 2018 to March 15, 2018 through the Communities Foundation of Oklahoma (CFO) scholarship portal at: www.cfok.org. Aspiring Americans is a program of Scissortail Community Development Corporation as part of its mission of economic and social development in Oklahoma. The Aspiring Americans mission is to help undocumented students and families in Oklahoma pursue the highest education possible and facilitate their successful enrollment in colleges and universities across the state. Continue Reading →

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Pawhuska Nursing Home Closes Due to Underfunding

PAWHUSKA, OK – Pawhuska Nursing Home LLC has informed its 20 residents that it is closing. The facility opened in 1956 and, with over 30 employees, is one of Pawhuska’s larger employers. Like most of Oklahoma’s nursing homes, which rely heavily on Medicaid funding, the Pawhuska facility has been hit hard by budget cuts. Since 2010, Oklahoma nursing homes have lost over $93 million in state and federal appropriations, leaving many of them on the brink of insolvency and closure. Pawhuska Nursing Home Owner Justin McGrew said that he and his staff are working with residents to find them alternative accommodations. Continue Reading →

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How a Federal Shutdown Impacts Kids and Families

On Monday, we saw the US Senate pass legislation to keep the federal government running for three more weeks. If passed by both bodies and signed by President Trump, the agreement would extend funding and allow further negotiations on issues outside the budget discussion. Both sides in Congress feel they are fighting for a principled stand on immigration and budget reform.  Democrats want to see rights given to children who were brought to the US by parents without legal status, as well as increased funding for domestic, non-defense programs. Republicans have yet to allow a vote on the issue of “Dreamers” to be given legal status, but have committed to bring this up for a vote. What is the result of a government shutdown then? It is important to know, should this happen again on February 8. Continue Reading →

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Parents Will Win $45,000 in Scholarship Prizes at 2018 Oklahoma School Choice Summit and Expo

Event Will Showcase Different Education Options Available to Families
OKLAHOMA CITY – Attendees at this year’s Oklahoma School Choice Summit and Expo can enter into a drawing to win one of three $15,000 scholarships offered by the Opportunity Scholarship Fund to be awarded at the event. Winners will be announced during the keynote program from 7 to 9 PM, which will feature remarks from national school choice proponent Roland Martin. The keynote portion of the event will also feature a panel discussion with Oklahoma legislators led by former Oklahoma lawmaker Jabar Shumate. The event will take place on January 25 from 4PM to 9PM at OCU’s Meinders School of Business on 250 N. Blackwelder Ave in Oklahoma City. Continue Reading →

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Take Me (and Oklahoma’ Children) Out to the Ball-Game

Oklahoma- On January 31, the Bricktown Rotary will honor Clayton Kershaw of the LA Dodgers with their annual Warren Spahn award, named after an Oklahoman who was one of the all-time great Major League pitchers. The upcoming award ceremony got me thinking about baseball in America and its unique relationship with race. Last year was the 70th anniversary of desegregation in Major League Baseball, a major milestone in the civil rights movement. Baseball has always been thought of as “America’s Pastime,” and the victory won by players like Jackie Robinson resonated far beyond sports. It was a cultural and political victory for all black Americans. Continue Reading →

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Children’s Agenda for the New Year

For those who are involved in politics and policy at the Oklahoma State Capitol, 2017 feels like the year that will never end. Special legislative sessions, elusive budget deals, and an early start to political campaigning have given this year an endless “Ground Hog Day” vibe that makes it seem like 2018 exists only in the distant future. Nevertheless, the New Year is practically here, and it may surprise the public to learn that the bill-filing deadline for the 2018 legislative session is this Friday, December 8. Bills filed before Friday do not necessarily need to be in their detailed, final form; most are “shell bills” that simply identify a topic. In that spirit, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy has identified five priority areas we hope our lawmakers make the focal point of their legislation. Continue Reading →

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Be a Surrogate Santa: Support OK Foster Wishes

There are some projects that are so fun or rewarding that they just do not seem much like work.  One of those is an exciting new endeavor the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is taking on that will help spread some holiday cheer!  We were recently asked to help OK Foster Wishes and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) lead a gift drive that will ultimately deliver holiday presents to approximately 6,000 children in foster care. OK Foster Wishes has worked closely with DHS for years to assemble “wish lists” that foster kids and parents pass on to their caseworkers. OK Foster Wishes then matches those wish lists to Oklahomans who volunteer to buy a present on those lists, or to make a monetary donation that covers the costs. DHS then works to deliver those toys to the right children and families. This year, OICA is playing a lead role in raising toys and cash, and we are asking the public to help in one of two ways:
1.         Individuals interested in making a monetary contribution can donate online at okfosterwishes.org or by calling (405) 236-5437. Continue Reading →

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Be a Surrogate Santa: Support OK Foster Wishes

Oklahoma-There are some projects that are so fun or rewarding that they just do not seem much like work.  One of those is an exciting new endeavor the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is taking on that will help spread some holiday cheer!  We were recently asked to help OK Foster Wishes and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) lead a gift drive that will ultimately deliver holiday presents to approximately 6,000 children in foster care. OK Foster Wishes has worked closely with DHS for years to assemble “wish lists” that foster kids and parents pass on to their caseworkers. OK Foster Wishes then matches those wish lists to Oklahomans who volunteer to buy a present on those lists, or to make a monetary donation that covers the costs. DHS then works to deliver those toys to the right children and families. This year, OICA is playing a lead role in raising toys and cash, and we are asking the public to help in one of two ways:
1.         Individuals interested in making a monetary contribution can donate online at okfosterwishes.org or by calling (405) 236-5437. Continue Reading →

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Leadership Change on Criminal Justice Committee Offers a Golden Opportunity to Build Consensus

Oklahoma – For years, bipartisan consensus has been brewing around the notion that Oklahoma locks up too many non-violent offenders. The cost of that over-incarceration has been borne by taxpayers, who are on the hook for the state’s prison costs, and families, whose homes are left broken when one parent (or both) winds up in prison for crimes often related to addiction or mental health problems.

More and more Oklahomans are now calling for criminal justice reform that emphasizes rehabilitation and treatment over lengthy prison sentences for non-violent offenders. Unfortunately, many of those reforms have hit a wall in the State Legislature. Oftentimes, that wall has been the chair of the Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee, Rep. Scott Biggs. More than a dozen potential laws were filed earlier this year that moved smoothly through the legislative process until Biggs exercised his authority as committee chair and refused to allow them to be heard.  Biggs’ actions essentially slammed the breaks on most of the state’s meaningful justice reform measures. Continue Reading →

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Statewide Campaign Asks Legislators Who They Really Support: Big Tobacco or Oklahoma?

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK—Frustrated by political gridlock at the State Capitol, the Oklahoma Hospital Association (OHA) is taking to television and social media channels to make the case for a $1.50 per pack cigarette tax increase. Yesterday, a new ad – “What’s it going to take?” – began running on television stations statewide. The campaign asks: “What’s it going to take to keep 2100 Oklahoma kids from becoming addicted to cigarettes this year, to get our legislators to stop playing politics, and to keep Big Tobacco from profiting off this inaction?”

It ends with a call to action for voters to contact their lawmakers and hold them accountable: “Let’s ask legislators who they really support: Oklahoma or Big Tobacco. Quit holding the cigarette tax hostage. Call your legislator and tell them to do the right thing: pass the cigarette tax.”

OHA President Craig Jones said the advertising campaign was a call-to-action meant to highlight the moral importance of passing a cigarette tax. Continue Reading →

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