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Despite The Recession There Are Still Billions For College

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"Yes, the nation is in an economic crisis," agrees Bola Soyemi, Director of Student Financial Services for the Art Institute of California - Inland Empire. "But funds for college are still available. It's just that parents and students don't realize it."

Students considering an education at an Art Institute school most likely have a definite career goal, as the education they provide focuses on training people to work in creative fields. But, as with almost all careers, these students need to prepare for their goals with a college education.

"I hope to have a job doing what I love, so when I awaken each morning my job is something more of an adventure, rather than something to just pay the bills," said Alurra Hughes, a senior at Redlands High School who hopes to attend The Art Institute of California -- Inland Empire after graduation.

Alurra seized a great opportunity earlier this year, when she entered and won The Art Institute of California --Inland Empire's annual poster contest. She has already won a $3,000 scholarship, and has an opportunity to increase that amount to a full scholarship if she wins a competition of first-place winners from participating schools of The Art Institutes.

But even if she doesn't win the full scholarship, the financial aid staff of The Art Institute of California-Inland Empire will help Alurra find the resources she needs to pursue a degree at their school. They did the same two years ago for Alyssa Mees, who is now one of the school's first graduates and works full-time in her dream job as a graphic designer.

The Art Institute of California -- Inland Empire has helped most of the more than 750 current students put together financial aid packages so that they too can pursue their education and career goals.

In some cases, Soyemi states, parents aren't clear on the value and opportunities a higher education provides. This leads to a lack of parental support and commitment towards sending a child to college.

"I believe that more families should change their mindset towards education and embrace the opportunities that come with having a college degree," Soyemi said. "The opportunities do come with cost, of course, but funds for college are still available."

On the Internet, Google's search engine spells it out. There are five million hits under "scholarship search," two and a half million sites for "student financial aid" and in our state alone there are 700,000 sites under "California student financial aid."

The United States Department of Education provides more than $83 billion in loans and non-repayable grants for higher education. That makes up fully 60 percent of the nation's student aid funding. More than nine million students are dependent on this aid for their college education. And, experts point out, millions of available dollars go unused every single year.

Soyemi, who heads a staff of 10, says, "Approximately 90 percent of the students at our school were on some financial aid program last year, ranging from hundreds of dollars in support to many thousands." These might take the form of federal, state or institution grants, depending on current budget allocations.

"My biggest task," Soyemi adds, "is encouraging students and their parents to not disqualify themselves by simply failing to apply for aid. Particularly the parents, who may not realize that funds are available."

"All the student or parents have to do to start the financial planning process is go to any college or university financial aid office and fill out the FAFSA form. That stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Then you simply ask what else is available."

Every year The Art Institute of California -- Inland Empire gives over $150,000 in scholarships from $3,000 to $15,000 each. For details, go to www.artinstitutes.edu/Admissions/FinancialAid.aspx

There might be scholarships from local businesses or service organizations, state supplied grants, funds from the college itself and numerous student loan programs in which interest rates are low and repayment doesn't begin until the education years are completed. 

Underground Railroad Study Tour Set for July

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By Haiphuong Hua

There is still time: Join Us on the Footsteps to Freedom Underground Railroad Field Study XI

On July 27th, 2008, the Footsteps to Freedom Underground Railroad Study tour will take participants onto a journey inundated with incredible sights and locations.  The journey will start in Columbus, Ohio and end in Buffalo New York. 

One of the locations is a well that leads to a series of hidden tunnels and finally into a cellar in Wilberforce, Ohio.
The Footsteps to Freedom tour is not about African history, it's a remembrance of the American history as a whole. The participants will be taken on a journey back in time to see and relive the difficult times the enslaved people endured while seeking freedom. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to walk on the same paths as our ancestors have, when they tried to escape enslavement.

"I have learned that I am the legacy of a people who were determined to see all of their future generation free.  All descendants of ex-slaves owe it to their forefathers [to] embrace their freedom, live life to the fullest, and be the best they can be," said Pam Lockhart, a 2007 participant.

A slave jail, turned into a hiding place Phillip's Folly in Maysville, KY.
The experience may be nostalgic, but it is the educational experience of a lifetime. What better method to learn American history in person where you can see, touch, smell, and hear for yourselves the amazing journey these brave people have experienced. It is a great way for students to learn and teachers to use this tour as a tool to teach American history to their students. Participants learn the tactics that slaves used to seek freedom.  One example is that the slaves would use false bottom wagons, in which they covered themselves with manure to deceive dog's sense of smell so they would not be caught and slave catchers would not take too close of a notice.

"If it wasn't for the stories told and remembered, past down and listened to, written and read, we would have no history and the voices would be lost," said Harriet, a 2007 participant. 

All of the locations you will get to see will allow you to realize the suffrage of Black American people and the commitment to fight oppression.  This amazing journey will take you to another country, four states, and eighteen cities, in which you can acquire lasting memories. 

The sign up date to go on this memorable trip has been extended until the twenty first of July. Hurry now to ensure your spot of a lifetime. 

For more information, call Cheryl Brown (909) 888-5040 or Angela Dorough (909) 386-2611, San Bernardino County Office of Education.

Disney’s Toy Story Mania Excites Visitors

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By Jordan Brown

The happiest place on earth just got happier with the new ride "Toy Story Mania." Located in Disney's California Adventure theme park, the attraction is fast paced and exciting. There are five games that the guests play.  They have to do with midway games. However, all the games have to do with Toy Story. The games are "Pie Throw Practice," "Hamm & Eggs," "Bo Peep's Baa- loon Pop," "Green Army Men Shoot Camp," Buzz Light Year's Flying Tossers" and "Rootin' Tootin' Shootin' Gallery." Guest are given 3-D glasses for the 4-D game. Then you sit on the ride and you pull a little trigger with a steering wheel that allows you to shoot at the target. The targets have points that range from 100 to 2000, and as you play you rack up the points.

Jordan Brown, visiting from Ohio, enjoyed Toy Story Maina at Disney's California Adventure.

So lets talk games.

In the first game you hit targets with virtual pies that splatter in your face. Oh, and you might get wet water balloons in "Bo Peep's Baaa -loon Pop."    Whoever wins, wins a virtual plush toy. I won with 36,590 points.

If the line wasn't so long, I'd ride "Toy Story Mania" all day long.

Westside Residents Awarded Plots

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Revitalized Community Garden at Anne Shirrells Park

Six Westside residents planted and will harvest fresh fruits and vegetables in a new community garden that was launched today at Anne Shirrells Park thanks to a collaboration of community partners including faith-based organizations, local residents and the City of San Bernardino. The garden, part of a continuing effort to increase the availability of fruits and vegetables in San Bernardino's Westside neighborhood, was officially unveiled during the Network for a Healthy California (Network)-African American Campaign's 2008 Consumer Empowerment Forum for Change held at the Park, 1367 N. California Street in San Bernardino.

Six Westside residents recieve garden plots: (left to right): Reverend Bronica Martindale (far left) and Dr. Astrid Mickens - Williams (far right) present garden plots to Westside residents (starting with second person on left ): Darlyne Hill; Champion Mom Maiia Carrington; Rio Vista Elementary teacher Marc Walos standing in for Robledo Family and Hernandez Family; Pastor Turner; and Cindra Weber.

The Forum showcased the efforts of empowered African American Champions for Change working in collaboration with a variety of community partners to change the landscape of their neighborhoods by increasing the availability of fruits and vegetables to support healthier lifestyles.

"As a resident in the California Gardens neighborhood, I know how important it is to the health of my family to increase the availability of fruits and vegetables, " said Maiia Carrington, Network for a Healthy California-Desert Sierra Region Champion Mom. " The garden is a huge step forward in making changes that will have lasting impact in the community."

In addition to the plots, the Network will also sponsor gardening education classes at Rio Vista Elementary School, which is adjacent to the garden. The classes will include weekly visits by a master gardener who will use the garden as a teaching laboratory for the students.

Mayor Morris gives a proclamation from the City of San Bernardino to Reverend Bronica Martindale, president of the California Gardens Neighborhood Cluster Asssociation, during the 2008 Consumer Empowerment Forum for Change.
According to Dr. Astrid Mickens - Williams, Coordinator, Network for a Healthy California-Desert Sierra Region African American Campaign, the garden revitalization is the result of the community collaboration's hard work and dedication.

"The collaboration partners, especially our Champion Moms, are dedicated to making sure that the Anne Shirrells garden project is one of the first steps toward increased availability of fruits and vegetables for Westside residents," said Mickens - Williams. "By eliminating as many barriers as possible to healthy living, we can begin to turn around the alarming number of health disparities that confront many low-income neighborhoods.

"It's important to reinforce with our Champions for Change Moms and community residents that through organizing and collaborating they can become change agents creating sustainable improvements in their neighborhoods, " added Mickens - Williams.

The Consumer Empowerment Forum for Change comes on the heels of a recent African American Campaign survey of 1,732 African American adults in California.  The respondents - primarily women (87.8 percent) from low-income households (71.8 percent) - were very aware of the potential negative health impacts overweight and obesity can cause. While nearly all (94 percent) agreed that being overweight or obese can cause serious health problems like diabetes, cancer or heart disease, only one-third were eating the daily recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables for good health. Local neighborhood collaborations are working together to seek solutions like increasing the availability of fruits and vegetables so that health outcomes improve in low-income African American communities.

(left to right) Teslyn Henry, MPH, RD; Reverend Bronica Martindale, Linda Davis lead guests doing the Harvest Dance during the 2008 Consumer Empowerment Forum for Change.

The Forum is presented by the Network for a Healthy California-Desert Sierra Region African American Campaign and the California Gardens Neighborhood Cluster Association in cooperation with Operation Phoenix, City of San Bernardino Parks & Recreation, Rio Vista Elementary School, Inland Orange Conservancy, and Temple Community Outreach Center.

The Network works with more than 300 different public, non-profit and business partners throughout the state to empower low-income Californians to consume the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables and enjoy physical activity every day. Principal funding is from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Stamp Program, an equal opportunity provider and employer. For more information, visit the Network's Web sites at www.networkforahealthycalifornia.net   or www.cachampionsforchange.net.

LA County Contributes to High Desert Corridor JPA

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The High Desert Corridor Joint Powers Authority, comprised of San Bernardino and Los Angeles Counties, receivd a boost when the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority agreed to contribute $500,000 toward the operating expenses of the JPA.

The expressway will function as a major new freight corridor, taking pressure off of freeways in the Inland Empire and Los Angeles which are frequently congested with truck traffic.

The route would provide an alternative for thousands of trucks and cars and would divert significant traffic from Highways 138 and 18 in the High Desert as well as Highways 60 and 210, Interstate 10 and, most importantly, Interstate 15 through San Bernardino County, the Cajon Pass and the Victor Valley.

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BVN National News Wire