IBM announced a “Financing Advantage” initiative that ultimately will make acquiring the latest technology faster, simpler and more affordable for owners of small and medium-sized businesses. The initiative is part of IBM’s 8-year-old Market Development program, which focuses on ensuring that businesses owned by Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and women recognize that IBM wants to partner with them and has affordable technology that can help their businesses succeed. Market Development Vice President Marilyn Johnson says the steady growth of minority- and women-owned businesses represents a more than $11 billion IT opportunity in North America and IBM is poised to lead the industry in marketing to these sectors.
A coalition of gospel artists, songwriters, industry executives and church leaders formed the Gospel Artists Progressive Movement (G.A.P., www.gapmovement.org) to educate gospel artists about recording contracts, copyrights, publishing rights and other financial business issues that have emerged recently as the genre’s popularity has grown. Gospel music annually accounts for more than $1 billion in record sales in the United States alone and close to 10 percent of all types of music sold. G.A.P.’s chairman is the Rev. Robert Lowe, pastor of the 4,000-member Mount Moriah A.M.E. Church in Queens, N.Y., and host of the I.Gospel television show. Lowe is a former gospel music artist and owner of Moriah Music Group.
New Savings Bank
Boston’s BankBlackwell, the first African-American direct community bank, said its application to organize a federal savings bank was approved. Founded by James Mundy, a former executive with OneUnited Bank, the nation’s second largest African-American–owned bank, BankBlack- well is the first African-American bank to obtain a federal banking charter in more than 10 years. It will offer savings accounts, CDs, mortgages and home equity loans, primarily targeting African-American households earning $50,000 or more. The bank will conduct business online, by phone and by mail.
A report by Educational Testing Services, Princeton, N.J., said high school students, regardless of race/ethnicity, who achieve “superstar” status take demanding courses and at least one advanced placement course; hold a leadership position in extra-curricular activities and have at least one parent who has earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. The report, “Characteristics of Minority Students Who Excel on the SAT and in the Classroom,” also found that engineering is the most popular choice of major among men with high SAT scores; the biological sciences are more popular among women than men; pre-med is a more common choice among women than men, especially among Asian American and African-American women; business and computer science are equally popular among all racial/ethnic groups; health professions are more popular among students at the low and middle SAT achievement levels. Regardless of racial/ethnic or gender group, virtually none of the “academic superstars” express an interest in majoring in education.
The Thurgood Marshall Scholar-ship Fund, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and the Siemens Foundation established The Siemens Teacher Scholarships to encourage minority students to pursue teaching careers in math, science and technology. New Jersey–based Siemens Foundation will provide $1 million in scholarships over the next five years for undergraduate and graduate students wishing to pursue such careers. The Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund and the UNCF will administer the fund. Each will receive $500,000 to be awarded to students accepted to any of the 85 historically Black colleges and universities that are members of the two organizations.
African-Americans are earning doctoral degrees in record numbers, according to a University of Chicago report prepared by the National Opinion Research Center. A total of 1,708 African-Americans earned doctorates in 2003, an increase of 4 percent above the previous year to a total of 6.5 percent of all doctorates received in 2003. Of the doctorates awarded African-Americans, 43.5 percent were in education, compared with only 19.3 percent of Whites seeking the same degree; 5.6 percent were in the natural sciences, compared with 12.3 percent for Whites; 1 percent were in physics and astronomy; 2.1 percent were in chemistry; 1.9 percent were in the biological sciences; and 4 percent were in engineering. None were in fields such as geometry, astrophysics, nuclear chemistry or geology.
Fewer than 1,000 minority farmers have signed up with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Minority Farm Register, which is meant to keep minority farmers informed about agricultural subsidies and loan programs, including direct and guaranteed farm ownership and operating loans, conservation incentives, housing and rural business loans, and risk management. The lack of participation is attributed to mistrust between the federal government and minority farmers, particularly Black farmers, because the sign-up form warns that the information provided may be shared with “USDA-approved outreach partners,” including other government agencies.
Cable system affiliates added during the first quarter of 2005 pushed the number of TV One’s subscribers to 20 million just over a year after the channel’s launch. The lifestyle and entertainment network for African-American adults this year launched on Cox systems in Las Vegas, Norfolk/Hampton Roads and Fredericksburg, Va.; Charter’s system in Greenville, S.C.; and on Comcast systems in suburban Boston and New Hampshire, Nashville, Tenn., Jacksonville, Fla., Savannah, Ga., and suburban Detroit.
The Department of Health and Human Services awarded $1.2 million to a partnership of Black organizations aimed at reducing obesity among African-Americans. The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education will work with the National Urban League and the National Council of Negro Women in prevention, education, public awareness and outreach.