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In 2008, Lumina asked SPEC Associates (SPEC) to evaluate the foundation's grant making aimed at improving the productivity of higher education through statewide policy and program change. The initiative was initially known as Making Opportunity Affordable and later became known more broadly as Lumina's higher education productivity initiative. Eleven states received planning grants in 2008 and a year later seven of these states received multi-year grants to implement their productivity plans. In 2009, Lumina published Four Steps to Finishing First in Higher Education to frame the content of its productivity work. In 2010, the foundation, working with HCM Strategists, launched the Strategy Labs Network to deliver just-in-time technical assistance, engagement, informationsharing and convenings to states. Lumina engaged SPEC to evaluate these productivity investments in the seven states through exploring this over-arching question: What public will building, advocacy, public policy changes, and system or statewide practices are likely to impact higher education productivity for whom and in what circumstances, and which of these are likely to be sustainable, transferable, and/or scalable?
On November 2 the Tennessee legislature will convene a special session to debate reform of the state tax system. The center of the controversy is whether Tennessee should adopt a personal income tax, as proposed by Gov. Don Sundquist, to close an estimated $400 million budget shortfall.
This study finds that a personal income tax in Tennessee would likely have two negative economic effects. First, an income tax would almost certainly reduce economic growth and job creation in the state. The absence of an income tax in Tennessee gives Tennessee a large competitive advantage over other states with which it competes for jobs and businesses. We find, for example, that Kentucky, a state very similar to Tennessee except that it has an income tax, has had considerably weaker economic performance since 1980. Between 1980 and 1998 the per capita economic growth rate of Tennessee was 47 percent compared to 36 percent in Kentucky.
The second negative effect of a state income tax would be to trigger much faster growth in state expenditures. That has been the almost universal pattern in other states after they enacted a state income tax. Yet the premise of pro-income tax forces in Tennessee that the state's revenues have been growing too slowly is contradicted by the evidence. In the 1990s, even without an income tax, Tennessee's per capita tax receipts have grown 12th fastest among the 50 states. Tennessee's tax revenues have climbed at twice the rate of inflation plus population growth. The legislature should be cutting taxes, not introducing new ones.
Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness (ICPH);
From a study commissioned by the Volunteers of America, this report provides a general description of homeless families, their demographic make-up, personal histories, and regional responses in three different areas.
Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED);
The Assets & Opportunity Scorecard is a comprehensive look at Americans' financial security today and their opportunities to create a more prosperous future. It assesses the 50 states and the District of Columbia on 130 outcome and policy measures, which describe how well residents are faring and what states are doing to help them build and protect assets. The Scorecard enables states to benchmark their outcomes and policies against other states in five issue areas: Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care, and Education.
American Journal of Public Health;
A new 20-year study shows a link between children's social skills in kindergarten and their well-being in early adulthood.
Researchers from Pennsylvania State and Duke Universities analyzed what happened to nearly 800 kindergarteners from four locations after their teachers measured their social competency skills in 1991. The children were evaluated on a range of social behaviors, such as whether they resolve peer problems, listen to others, share materials, cooperate, and are helpful. Each student then received a composite score representing his or her overall level of positive social skills/behavior, on a scale from ("not at all") to 4 ("very well"). The research team monitored these students and the positive and negative milestones each obtained until they turned 25.
Using a variety of data sources, including official records; reports from parents; and self-reporting by the participants, researchers recorded whether the students obtained high school diplomas, college degrees, and full-time jobs. They also kept track of whether students developed a criminal record or substance abuse problems, among other negative outcomes.
Violence Policy Center;
The devastation homicide inflicts on black teens and adults is a national crisis, yet it is all too often ignored outside of affected communities.
This study examines the problem of black homicide victimization at the state level by analyzing unpublished Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR) data for black homicide victimization submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The information used for this report is for the year 2012 and is the most recent data available. This is the first analysis of the 2012 data on black homicide victims to offer breakdowns of cases in the 10 states with the highest black homicide victimization rates and the first to rank the states by the rate of black homicide victims.
It is important to note that the SHR data used in this report comes from law enforcement reporting at the local level. While there are coding guidelines followed by the law enforcement agencies, the amount of information submitted to the SHR system, and the interpretation that results in the information submitted (for example, gang involvement) will vary from agency to agency. While this study utilizes the best and most recent data available, it is limited by the quantity and
degree of detail in the information submitted.
Violence Policy Center;
The Violence Policy Center (VPC) today released "When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2004 Homicide Data". This annual report details national and state-by-state information on female homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender. The VPC releases the study each year to coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. In 2004, according to the most recent data available from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's unpublished Supplementary Homicide Report, firearms were the most common weapon used by males to murder females (811 of 1,663 homicides or 49 percent). Of these, 72 percent (582 of 811) were committed with handguns. In cases where the victims knew their offenders, 62 percent of female homicide victims (966 of 1,563) were wives or intimate acquaintances of their killers. Alaska ranks first in the nation in the rate of women killed by men. Ranked behind Alaska are: New Mexico, Wyoming, Louisiana, Nevada, South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Tennessee (see chart below). Nationally, the rate of women killed by men in single victim/single offender instances was 1.29 per 100,000.
VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, "These numbers should serve as a wake-up call to the states with the highest rates of female homicide that more needs to be done to protect women."
Coalition for Juvenile Justice;
This national report from the Coalition for Juvenile Justice finds that while treatment methods for young offenders with mental health problems that rebuild families and provide intensive mental health services are highly successful, their availability is rare. The report shows that 50 to 75 percent of incarcerated young offenders nationwide are estimated to have a diagnosable mental health disorder. It also exposes how poverty, race, gender, language barriers and sexual orientation can unjustly block young offenders' access to services. The report also profiles two model mental health service programs: Youth Villages, a private, nonprofit organization with facilities in Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas that incorporates the tenets of Multisystemic Therapy into its treatment; and Wraparound Milwaukee, a "full-service" approach that crafts individualized solutions for troubled children and families. These programs give youth and families chances to make positive changes, improve community safety and save taxpayer dollars.
This report highlights the work of eight organizations, members of the NeighborWorks® America network, that are using innovative and promising strategies to accomplish community stabilization goals. All demonstrate success in using a patchwork of local, state and federal resources. These case studies demonstrate that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to community stabilization. However, reliable funding, strong partnerships and deliberate community engagement prove to be essential components of success. Their responses have been shaped by a range of factors, including the strengths and the experience of their individual organizations, the condition of local housing markets, the presence of community assets on which to build and the dictates of available funding sources.
Headwaters Group Philanthropic Services;
Assesses McKnight's program and funding history to improve water quality, strengthen advocacy, and conserve land; legal and political contexts; and findings and accomplishments. Recommends focusing on specific issues and threats, including farm pollution.