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Linda Calhoun (Photo by: theatlantavoice.com) Linda Calhoun (Photo by: theatlantavoice.com)

Atlanta Voice

Founder of Career Girls helps young women kickstart STEM career

ATLANTA VOICE — Linda Calhoun, created the non-profit that brings real women role models to the forefront with careers.

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By Sierra A. Porter

Founder and Executive Producer of Career Girls, Linda Calhoun, created the non-profit that brings real women role models to the forefront with careers “across all of the major U.S. career clusters with an emphasis”  in science, technology, engineering, and mechanics better known as STEM for young girls to learn from.

In a study created by Microsoft and Dr. Shalini Kesar, Associate Professor Department of Computer Science and Information Systems at Southern Utah University, young girls are more likely to explore STEM careers when they see successful women representation.

“Girls and young women have a hard time picturing themselves in STEM roles,” Kesar stated in the study. “They need more exposure to STEM jobs, female role models, and career awareness and planning.”

A first-generation college student, Calhoun expressed that as a young girl, she wished she would have known the endless opportunities for women in STEM.

“I was working on an international development project in Central Asia, and it was in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and the US government had all of the contractors that we’re working on privatization projects together in a room,” Calhoun said. “There were maybe three or four women; there was no one else of color. I knew the only reason I was in that room is that they needed to know what I knew and I knew if I could be in that room, any girl could be in that room.”

Career Girls got its start in 1996. However, the website for the non-profit Careergirls.org  didn’t launch until January 2011 and Career Girls received a 501 ©(3) in 2012.

On why she chose STEM to be the emphasis for Career Girls, Calhoun stated that the STEM industry empowered her. She worked as a consultant for a database design, found it interesting and recognizes that they are the jobs of the future.

“I want girls to know about STEM and what’s coming down the pipes in terms of artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and big data,” she said. “It will give me great comfort to know that it’s going to be girls learning about that now and in the future.”

Calhoun wants a diverse group of people, especially women of color, sitting at the table designing systems and creating algorithms that will impact people’s lives.

Seen in 232 countries,  Career Girls offers a variety of career advice on the CareerGirls.org website, including videos from real women who work in the industry. “I like geographic diversity, obviously ethnic, and racial diversity,” Calhoun said.

The primary age target for Career Girls are ages 10 to 13. Viewers can see close to 600 accomplished women working in careers across all of the major U.S. career clusters, sharing their experiences and insights on different professions and over 10,000 individual clips where “they can use to, support, augment, and supplement the programming that they’re already doing.”

The non-profit also offers “Career Girls Clubs” for young girls at school. “We’re helping to close the imagination gap for girls on what’s possible in those particular fields,” she said. Some of the takeaways for girls who visit the site include the number of years of training in each of the areas in STEM,  the number of jobs that are projected, the median salary, and college advice.

“It was critical to me that we demystify what college is about and how it relates to something they might want to do,” Calhoun said. “So we list sample undergraduate courses of what you would study if you wanted to pursue a degree related to that particular career.”

In addition Empowerment Lesson videos that cover about 25 career and academic topics, there are also soft skills lessons that touch upon social and emotional learning themes including financial literacy, teamwork, and leadership.

“Two middle school curriculum experts were hired, and they came up with common core aligned classrooms, lesson plans for formal classroom instruction,” Calhoun said. “Then they came up with an independent learning guide, related to each of these topics that can be used inside and outside the classroom or for  less formal group settings such as the Girl Scouts, etc.”

In December of 2018, Career Girls had 150,000 page views on the site, 48,000 video views during the month of December 2018, and a total of 6 million page views since its inception..

For those who don’t have online access, Calhoun had content from the Career Girls website on a mobile learning center available offline powered by World Possible’s RACHEL server.

Calhoun feels as though her organization has impacted young girls and women in STEM in a tremendous way by motivating them to strive for careers in the STEM industry.

“We get submissions on our youtube channel, facebook, and our website, but one of the things that is most gratifying to me is when I get to see and witness girls watching our content and seeing how their demeanor changes,” Calhoun said.

On her own personal impact from starting the non-profit, Calhoun said, “I don’t want to die, but I can die very happy.” Closing out National Mentoring Month last month by hosting Girls Inc of Metro Atlanta, Calhoun will add a mobile app for Career Girls and will be working with Black Girls Code programmers to do the programming.

“The app will be  a place where girls are going to be able to privately and safely, capture their career exploration and journaling activities,” Calhoun said.

This article originally appeared in the Atlanta Voice.

Atlanta Voice

Georgia’s welfare rolls drop sharply in recent years

ATLANTA VOICE — State records show the number of Georgia families receiving welfare benefits has dropped by more than two-thirds in the past 14 years. The numbers have decreased as Georgia has applied constant pressure to drive down the rolls, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

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Georgia State Capitol (Photo by: Wikipedia)

By The Atlanta Voice

State records show the number of Georgia families receiving welfare benefits has dropped by more than two-thirds in the past 14 years.

The numbers have decreased as Georgia has applied constant pressure to drive down the rolls, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The number of households receiving aid from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program has consistently dropped. It even happened during the Great Recession.

State officials say the decreasing rolls are a sign that the program is working.

The trend in Georgia mirrors what has happened across the U.S., the newspaper reported.

After Congress made broad changes to the welfare program in 1996, the number of households receiving benefits has consistently dropped across nationwide. The changes in the 1990s gave states more control over how to run welfare. That resulted in fewer U.S. households receiving benefits.

In Georgia, the Legislature has consistently focused on getting people to work as opposed to providing cash aid, said Fred Brooks, a professor at Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.

In June 2018, the average welfare recipient received $260 a month, according to Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services. The amounts, set by the Legislature, haven’t increased with the rate of inflation in recent years, said Jon Anderson, the head of DFCS’ Office of Family Independence.

Georgia lawmakers for years have supported initiatives to limit the number of people receiving public assistance, including attempts to pass legislation that would have required drug testing for Georgians who receive food stamps.

This article originally appeared in the Atlanta Voice

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Atlanta Voice

Citations jump in 1st year of Georgia cellphone driving law

ATLANTA VOICE — Citations for distracted driving have jumped in the past year since Georgia made it illegal to drive while holding a cellphone. A state law that took effect July 1, 2018, prohibits drivers from holding a cellphone while they’re behind the wheel. They can only make calls using hands-free devices with their phones. Numbers compiled by the Georgia State Patrol show thousands failed to make the change.

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(Photo By: Ameesha Felton/Marine Corps)

By The Atlanta Voice

Citations for distracted driving have jumped in the past year since Georgia made it illegal to drive while holding a cellphone.

A state law that took effect July 1, 2018, prohibits drivers from holding a cellphone while they’re behind the wheel. They can only make calls using hands-free devices with their phones. Numbers compiled by the Georgia State Patrol show thousands failed to make the change.

A report by the State Patrol shows that state police wrote nearly 25,000 tickets for distracted driving in the law’s first year, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. That’s an average of 68 tickets per day, and the numbers don’t include tickets issued by local police departments.

“There are so many violations that we see, it’s hard to tell if it’s actually taking a toll yet,” Sgt. Henry Batts, a Georgia state trooper based in Albany, told WALB-TV. “We are getting people to comply with the law. It’s just going to take more tickets, I guess.”

Violating the hands-free law in Georgia is punishable by fines of $50 to $150 — depending on whether it’s a first or subsequent offense — as well as one to three points assessed against the driver’s license.

Tickets written by state police for distracted driving more than doubled within the law’s first six months. The State Patrol said fewer than 4,000 citations were written in the first half of 2018, the final months before the law took effect. That jumped to more than 8,000 distracted driving tickets during the last six months of 2018.

State Patrol officials say police didn’t really step up enforcement of the law until after Oct. 1. And the agency’s numbers show citations have continued to increase in 2019, with more than 16,000 tickets written since Jan. 1.

Thousands more tickets are being written by local police. For example, the Atlanta Police Department said its officers issued more than 17,000 distracted driving tickets in the past year.

Traffic fatalities and collision insurance claims have declined in Georgia since the cellphone law took effect, the Atlanta newspaper reported, and some safety experts say that indicates the law is working.

This article originally appeared in the Atlanta Voice

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#NNPA BlackPress

Ebony, Jet fire remainder of staff, may close its doors for good

THE ATLANTA VOICE — Timeless editions of Ebony featured some of the biggest stars in Black America, including issues covered by Diana Ross, Sidney Poitier, as well as President & first lady Barack & Michelle Obama.

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(Photo: Ebony Magazine)

By Miana Massey, Chevrolet DTU Fellow | The Atlanta Voice

It’s official, Ebony Magazine—along with its sister publication Jet Magazine—has potentially closed its doors for good.

Former employees of the company took to Twitter last week using the hashtag #EbonyOwes to air out their frustrations with the company, as it has fired all of its employees with little to no notice.

According to USA Today, members of Ebony magazine’s digital team say they’ve been fired and haven’t received their final paychecks in the latest controversy to hit the struggling publication that has chronicled black life in America for decades.

Michael Gibson, co-chairman and founder of Austin, Texas-based Clear View Group, which owns Ebony, declined to comment to USA TODAY on the digital team’s dismissal, citing a “policy of not commenting on any employment practices or issues.”

The Chicago Tribune previously reported how Ebony was being pressed by the National Writers Union to pay more than $200,000 it alleged the magazine owed to freelance writers who contributed stories back in 2017. The drama sparked the hashtag #EbonyOwes on Twitter.

According to a report on Ebony.com, the magazine’s previous owner, Johnson Publishing Co., filed for bankruptcy liquidation in April, which Ebony said would not affect its operations.

“EBONY Media Operations, LLC brands, which include EBONY magazine, EBONY.com, digital magazine JET and jetmag.com and its related businesses, have viably operated independently of Johnson Publishing Company dba/ Fashion Fair Cosmetics (JPC) since Black-owned Ebony Media Operations, LLC (EMO) purchased the media assets of JPC in 2016. Black-owned investment firm CVG Group LLC assisted in the formation of EMO,” a statement read. “EMO is unaffected by the Chapter 7 bankruptcy announcement regarding the dissolution of JPC. EMO is not able to comment further and is not familiar with the facts or events of the JPC business.”

The first issue of the iconic magazine hit stands 74 years ago and took the industry by storm. Founded by John H. Johnson in November 1945, the black-owned publication has striven always to address African-American issues, personalities and interests in a positive and self-affirming manner.

Timeless editions of Ebony featured some of the biggest stars in Black America, including issues covered by Diana Ross, Sidney Poitier, as well as President & first lady Barack & Michelle Obama.

Despite the possibility that the world may lose this national treasure, fans of Ebony Magazine and its lasting impact believe it will remain a staple of the black community and an ultimate expression of black excellence.

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