Scholarship America hosted their inaugural From Dreams to Degrees Education Dinner – honoring Katie Couric – on May 19, 2015 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.Video: #DreamsToDegrees: Celebrating Katie Couric and Scholarship America Dream Award RecipientsProceeds from the event will go toward the Scholarship America Dream Award, a completion-based scholarship program for students who are entering their second year or higher of education beyond high school.More than 300 individuals attended the event, which honored Katie Couric, journalist and author; Donald Graham, CEO of Graham Holdings Company; and the General Motors Foundation for their efforts in helping students achieve their education dreams. Rehema Ellis, NBC national education correspondent, emceed the evening’s program, which was chaired by Rodney O. Martin, Jr., chairman and CEO of Voya Financial.During the event, Martin surprised Scholarship America with a $25,000 gift from Voya Financial’s philanthropic arm, the Voya Foundation, to support the Scholarship America Dream Award.“As a leader in helping Americans get ready for retirement, you might think that our main focus would be on helping people after they’ve begun their careers,” said Martin. “However, we know that the success of our customers hinges on circumstances, accomplishments and investments much earlier in life. That’s why Voya Financial and the Voya Foundation are committed to advancing children’s education and financial literacy. We are extremely proud to be part of the community that Scholarship America brings together – to literally change lives.”The evening’s honorees were selected for their deep commitment to advancing education beyond high school for those students who need the most help. Students impacted by these important programs were present to help Scholarship America honor these individuals and organizations:Katie Couric, honored for Philanthropic Innovation after donating the proceeds of her book, The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons From Extraordinary Lives to the Scholarship America Dream Award, said, “The American Dream is alive in the hearts and minds of all the young people that Scholarship America helps year after year.”Donald Graham, honored for Impact & Advocacy for his commitment to undocumented and low-income students, praised scholarship programs and students: “Scholarship America opens the door, but the heroes of the program are the students.”General Motors Foundation, honored for Social Responsibility; their Buick Achievers Scholarship Program is one of the largest and most impactful scholarship programs in the country, and was developed in effort to strengthen the country’s workforce pipeline with the next generation of leaders and innovators. “Through programs like the Buick Achievers Scholarship, we’ve made a lasting difference in the lives of thousands of students through more than $27 million in scholarships,” said Greg Martin, executive director of GM Global Public Policy and GM Foundation board member. “We are honored to join like-minded individuals such as Katie Couric and Donald Graham and to be recognized for our deep commitment to educational advancement.”
“Effective action is required to stem the growing tide of hostility, anti-Roma sentiment and violence across Europe,” UN Independent Expert on minority issues Gay McDougall said in a statement.“Where a hard core of extremism exists in society and is willing to perpetrate violence, the full force of the criminal justice system must be used to protect targeted populations.”The UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, Githu Muigai, said such actions “reveal serious and deep-rooted problems of racism and discrimination against Roma at the heart of modern Europe that must be addressed in the most vigorous manner and through the rule of law.” In the latest incident on 17 November, far-right supporters armed with stones and petrol bombs besieged a Roma community in the Czech town of Litvinov and were prevented from attacking the community only by a concerted police response. “Extremists may feel they have licence for their attacks when the message they receive from government activities in other spheres is also that the Roma are a problem,” Ms. McDougall said.“Governments must strongly condemn such actions. Moreover they must be committed to finding ways to create safe environments for all by carefully monitoring and strengthening their own anti-racism activities, through leadership and public education, by swiftly denouncing hate speech and prosecuting the racist and violent actions of others in society.” Both experts consider the policies and actions of numerous States have been inadequate, at best, to resolve intolerable conditions of poverty, marginalization and exclusion experienced by the Roma. Policies such as fingerprinting Roma, abuse by police, and racist statements by senior public officials contribute to creating a climate in which societal discrimination and racism are sustained and enhanced. The experts said the growing number of incidents requires both a national and Europe-wide response. “A strong message must be sent by the European Union and acted upon by Member States. It is unacceptable for any sector of society to be vilified, threatened and attacked,” Mr. Muigai said. While welcoming the actions of the Czech authorities and police to protect the Roma community in the most recent incident, the experts noted that solutions must address the root causes of problems as well as their violent symptoms. International law, European directives and national policies must be strongly enforced by national governments and at the level of local government where “the message of anti-racism is simply not getting through,” Ms. McDougall said. 21 November 2008Two United Nations human rights experts today expressed grave concern over the recent rise in anti-Roma sentiment and violent incidents in several European countries, calling for a stronger response from governments.
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