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iPhone 6S to be Substantial Upgrade, Analyst Predicts

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(CNet) – Apple may be developing the next iPhone as more than just an incremental upgrade.

Likely to be launched in September as per Apple’s usual time frame, the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus (assuming Apple continues with its usual naming convention) will start off by offering a Force Touch feature — which would monitor the area on which the finger touches the screen to decide how much pressure you’re applying. Apple would then tempt buyers with even more specs, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in an investors note caught by G for Games and other sources.

Apple itself has not officially named its next iPhone or stated its intentions for the device.

Apple typically rolls out a major upgrade to its iPhone lineup every other year, and then fills in the gap with a more incremental upgrade during the in-between years. So the iPhone 5 came out in 2012, followed by the iPhone 5S in 2013 and the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in 2015. The “S” models usually enhance the processor and a few other components and add one or two new features but not much more. However, Apple continues to face tough competition from the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy S series and Android phones in general, which often sport major upgrades on an annual basis. Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus regained lost market share and customers by offering bigger screens. But if Apple wants to continue that trend, then the iPhone 6S needs to be more than just an incremental upgrade, which could happen, according to Kuo’s crystal ball.

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Activism

Comcast Announces Major Expansion of RISE Program to Include All Women-Owned Small Businesses 

“Women can sometimes be left out of conversations around funding and technology. If our business isn’t technology-focused, we can find ourselves left out of finding ways technology can advance our business. But every small business can benefit from a technology upgrade, whether you are in the hair, food or mannequin industry,” said Judi Henderson, a RISE Investment Fund recipient and owner of Mannequin Madness in Oakland. “Comcast recognizes the many challenges women business-owners encounter and the RISE grant is helping put women at the forefront.”

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Judi Henderson, a RISE Investment Fund recipient and owner of Mannequin Madness in Oakland.

Small Businesses Owned by Women – Regardless of Ethnicity – Now Invited to Apply for Comcast RISE Program Aimed at Helping Entrepreneurs Recover from COVID-19 Pandemic

By Adriana Arvizo and Maddie Moore

As of Sunday, Jan. 16, all women-owned businesses within Comcast’s California service area are eligible to apply for the Comcast RISE program.

This major expansion of Comcast RISE furthers efforts to advance digital equity and helps provide underrepresented small business owners with access to the digital tools and funding they need to thrive.

Of the Comcast RISE recipients named in the program’s first year, nearly 70% have been businesses owned by women of color, spurring Comcast to take a deeper look into the unique challenges faced by women entrepreneurs.

According to a study by the National Association of Women Business Owners, 42% of businesses in the U.S. are owned by women, with more than 1,800 new businesses being started every day. This is nearly five times the national average.

However, according to the same study, women-owned businesses are growing at only half the rate of those owned by men, namely because women often face unique challenges when trying to access capital and other resources to help them succeed.

The Comcast RISE expansion to all women-owned businesses recognizes and seeks to help address these persistent inequities women continue to face in accessing the resources and funding that are critical to success.

“Women can sometimes be left out of conversations around funding and technology. If our business isn’t technology-focused, we can find ourselves left out of finding ways technology can advance our business. But every small business can benefit from a technology upgrade, whether you are in the hair, food or mannequin industry,” said Judi Henderson, a RISE Investment Fund recipient and owner of Mannequin Madness in Oakland. “Comcast recognizes the many challenges women business-owners encounter and the RISE grant is helping put women at the forefront.”

Comcast RISE, which stands for Representation, Investment, Strength, and Empowerment, is part of Project UP, and is accepting applications through June 17. Small businesses owned by people of color and women in California — in Comcast’s footprint — are encouraged to apply for the chance to receive consulting, media, and creative production services from Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable, or technology upgrades based on their specific needs from Comcast Business.

Additionally, Comcast California recently unveiled a new RISE Business Directory for laptops and mobile phones, highlighting nearly 300 small, diverse-owned California businesses that have received grants, marketing and technology services from the Comcast RISE program.

For more information and the applications to apply for either the grant program or marketing and technology services, visit www.ComcastRISE.com.

Adriana Arvizo and Maddie Moore are media representatives for Comcast and Fiona Hutton & Associates respectively.

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Community

Greenlining Institute Announces Grants to Close Oakland’s Digital Divide

“The Town Link” Grants Fund Digital Inclusion/Literacy, Provide Tablets & Computers

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The Greenlining Institute Logo courtesy of company's website

The Greenlining Institute is pleased to announce grants to 10 grassroots Oakland organizations working to close the digital divide. The program, called “The Town Link,” is a partnership between Greenlining and the City of Oakland aimed at increasing internet adoption and digital literacy in communities that have lacked internet access, including communities of color and low-income neighborhoods.

In a report released last year, The Greenlining Institute found a startling correlation between East Bay neighborhoods lacking broadband access and neighborhoods that had been redlined beginning in the 1930s.

“What we’re doing here is really new, involving local community organizations that haven’t traditionally been involved in broadband work but who have strong links to the community, and using those community links to target the digital divide,” said Greenlining Institute Technology Equity Legal Counsel Vinhcent Le. “We’re proud to partner with the City of Oakland on this effort to build digital inclusion and digital literacy, make residents aware of free and affordable broadband plans, and provide computers to residents who need them. You simply can’t participate in the modern economy without broadband, and no Oaklander should be left behind.”

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said, “As an incubator of innovative policy ideas and an advocate for transformative change, Greenlining exemplifies the values of an #OaklandUndivided leadership partner. Together, our collective impact will ensure that all Oakland public school students have access to the tools at home necessary for a 21st century education: a personal computer, reliable internet, and culturally responsive tech support. Congratulations to the 10 community-based organizations selected to champion outreach and digital inclusion. Together we are Oakland Undivided!”

The 10 local organizations receiving $10,000 each, funded by the City of Oakland, are:

  • Allen Temple Baptist Church
  • Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS)
  • Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants (CERI)
  • El Timpano
  • Homies Empowerment
  • Oakland Workers Fund
  • Roots Community Health Center
  • St. Mary’s Center
  • The Unity Council
  • Vietnamese American Community Center of the East Bay

The funding from Town Link will enable the groups to provide computers and tablets to residents who lack devices, and to conduct trainings and educational workshops in their communities.

“Our community has shared the need for computers, education and affordable, reliable internet,” said Homies Empowerment Partnerships Coordinator J.P. Hailer. “We are very grateful that Town Link is giving us the opportunity to meet the needs of our community by providing technology and digital literacy services so that individuals and families are empowered with the skills and resources they need for daily living.”

“Investing digitally in the AAPI immigrant community is like investing in the next generation of innovation and corporations,” said Shirley Gee, executive director of the Vietnamese American Community Center of the East Bay. “You never know when a genius is born — note immigrant founders like Steve Chen of YouTube, Eric S. Yuan of Zoom, or Eric Thich Vi Ly of LinkedIn, to name a few.  Not only is The Greenlining Institute bridging the divide with broadband connectivity and digital literacy for communities like ours in the short term, they may very well be seeding the next generation of AAPI corporate founders.  Stay tuned!”

With the announcement of these grants, partners can begin working on their campaigns to be complete by the fall of 2022.

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Education

Student Freedom Initiative Launches Inaugural Program at HBCUs Across U.S.

Inspired by Robert F. Smith’s 2019 “Morehouse Gift,’ Initiative will provide STEM majors at 9 HBCUs a more equitable alternative to fund their education

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Inspired by Robert F. Smith's 2019 'Morehouse Gift,' the Student Freedom Initiative will provide stem majors at 9 HBCUs with a more equitable alternative to fund their education.

The Student Freedom Initiative (SFI), an organization that provides science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors income-contingent funding in lieu of traditional college loans that have long wreaked havoc on their financial futures, launched on nine HBCU campuses across the country on September 7.

Inspired by the 2019 gift by Robert F. Smith to Morehouse College graduates that erased 100% of student loan debt for them and their parents, the Student Freedom Initiative was created by Smith to further alleviate the longstanding financial burdens Black students face, disproportionate to their white counterparts.

The inaugural list of institutions includes: Claflin University, Clark Atlanta University, Florida A&M University, Hampton University, Morehouse College, Prairie View A&M University, Tougaloo College, Tuskegee University, and Xavier University of Louisiana.

“Through the Student Freedom Initiative, we hope to give Black students access to the education they need to move forward in this economy without the burden of student loan debt stopping them from realizing their fullest potential,” said Smith who serves as chairman of the Student Freedom Initiative. “While our community continues to face inequities that too often bar young students of color from accessing quality higher education, the Student Freedom Initiative aims to empower our students with the tools they need to control their financial futures.”

On average, Black students who graduate with bachelor’s degrees accrue $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. This gap only widens across the gender divide, with Black women carrying roughly 20% more student debt than white women, owing an estimated $41,466 in undergraduate loans compared to the $33,851 white women owe.

To address the unequal financial burden faced by these students, the Student Freedom Initiative created its Student Freedom Agreement, an income-contingent funding agreement based on a ‘pay it forward’ concept, meaning payments are only made when the individual is working. SFI has begun dispersing Student Freedom Agreement funds to eligible junior and senior STEM majors attending one of its nine inaugural partner schools.

HBCU students have traditionally been more likely than non-HBCU students to turn to Parent PLUS or private loans for additional funding to cover remaining costs for their education. On average, 63% of students at HBCUs rely on Parent Plus loans. The resulting default rate is five times as high in the Black community when compared to their white counterparts, and the average debt is twice as high in the Black community as long as four years after graduation.

“We are taking a holistic approach to support and empower our students,” said Mark Brown, executive director of the Student Freedom Initiative. “Not only are we providing our students financing to pursue their education, but the Student Freedom Initiative is also providing them with career development opportunities established through partnerships with Fortune 100 companies. Eligible students receive paid internship opportunities during their college careers to prepare them for post-graduate life. We’re betting on them that given the right investment, these students will go out and do well.”

Additionally, with the help of tech partners including Cisco and AVC Technologies, the Student Freedom Initiative is visiting HBCU campuses throughout the 2021-22 academic year to provide free technology infrastructure upgrades. SFI and its partners will work directly with HBCUs to identify gaps between their existing infrastructure and the requirements identified by the Department of Education Federal Student Aid (FSA) program and install the necessary solutions to address these gaps and become cybersecure.

To date, over 22 HBCUs have signed agreements to achieve campus cyber security through infrastructure upgrades, with additional schools signing up daily.

Together with Cisco’s contribution of $150 million, the Student Freedom Initiative has received over $250 million in pledges, including a generous contribution from the Walmart Foundation as part of its first round of grants for The Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity, and support from the United Negro College Fund. In addition, the program has been acknowledged and supported by the Business Roundtable’s Racial Equity & Justice Subcommittee on Education.

About Student Freedom Initiative

The Student Freedom Initiative (SFI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring freedom in professional and life choices for junior and senior students pursuing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees. Initially focused on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), SFI is a student-centered, evidence-based, and holistic initiative featuring four transformative components: (1) an income contingent alternative to fixed payment obligations used to finance college, (2) immersive work experiences through paid internships (3) executive mentoring, tutoring, and other student services and (4) mission-critical technology infrastructure upgrades at participating HBCUs. SFI collaborates with community-based organizations, businesses and governmental entities through public-private partnerships to make sustainable, systemic changes to support the entire HBCU ecosystem.

To learn more, visit StudentFreedomInitiative.org.

For more information, contact Sakita Holley at SFI@hos-pr.com

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