$42 billion in Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) has been approved since October 2021, according to a statement released by the U.S. Department of Education this week. The announcement states that 7,000 borrowers had been approved under the previous administration, with the amount reaching over 615,000 approved under the Biden-Harris administration.
â€œThe difference that Public Service Loan Forgiveness is making in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans reminds us why we must continue doing everything we can to fight for borrowers and why families cannot afford to have progress derailed by partisan politicians,â€� said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.
PSLF is a program designed to forgive public service workers including teachers, nurses and other government employees from their student loan debt after 10 years of service. Full-time employees of agencies or non-profits who have Direct Loans and have made at least 120 payments may be eligible to apply.
â€œSince day one, the Biden-Harris Administration has worked relentlessly to fix a broken student loan system, including by making sure we fulfill the promise of Public Service Loan Forgiveness for those who have spent a decade or more serving our communities and our country,â€� said Cardona.
PSLF is separate from the blocked Student Debt Relief Plan that includes loan forgiveness for up to $20,000 per eligible borrower. With 23 percent of Latinos taking out loans under $10,000, and 26 percent receiving loans between $10,000 and $50,000 this could potentially forgive almost half of Latino student loan debt.
A poll published by Newsweek revealed that 62 percent of Americans surveyed support Bidenâ€™s plan for student loan forgiveness. Of the 1,500 sample size, those between the ages of 25 to 34 were most favorable, with 82 percent in support.
The average amount of student loan debt for Wisconsin borrowers is $31,894, with almost 58% under the age of 35, according to the Education Data Initiative.
Student loan payments have been paused due to ongoing litigation and will potentially go back into effect 60 days after June 30, if the litigation is not resolved by then.
The Hortencia Zavala Foundation (HZF) is pleased to sponsor, once again, the Journalism Camp: Covering Race, Ethnicity, and Culture, a first-in-class 12-week program providing practical guidelines for fair and accurate storytelling.
Young journalists from across the country have participated in the first two classes. â€œSometimes when you are young and new in a country, you don’t have an experienced person to give you advice and guidance,â€� said Danna Matheus, University of Maryland. â€œHugo took the time to listen to me and help me improve in many areas, not only in journalism but with my resume, general life advice, finances, and even my 401k questions.â€œ Matheus was a cohort in the class of 2022.
BorisÂ Qâ€™vaÂ had this to say about his experience, â€œI felt heard when I needed it the most.â€� Qâ€™va was enrolled in the New Media Journalism Master of Arts degree at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. â€œAll of the lectures were equally important to me, but I found myself thinking about Solutions Journalism, and how it builds trust with the public through transparency.â€� Qâ€™va was a cohort in 2021.
As part of the program, all of the stories produced by the fellows had the chance to be published on one or all of the Latino News Networkâ€™s six outlets. Balta is the owner and publisher of Wisconsin Latino News, part of theÂ Latino News Network.
â€œIt is imperative that students get real work experiences and mentoring to navigate a newsroom that more often than not is not diverse and inclusive,â€� said Balta.
Due to a lack of equitable representation in newsrooms, there is an urgent need to train journalists to be transparent in news gathering and reporting on the complexity of racial identity, social constructs relating to ethnic terms, and cultural competence.
Covering race, ethnicity, and culture: a guideline for fair and accurate storytelling is a course designed to go beyond the inverted pyramid of basic news writing in examining the terminology, usage, and word choice of stories providing greater visibility and understanding of deep-rooted inequities in all aspects of society.
Guest speakers also share insights on networking with a purpose, strategies for managing oneâ€™s career, and the experience of often being the only person of color in the newsroom.
The Journalism Camp is open to all students (undergrad, graduate) in good standing.
The application process runs from May 1 to 29. The weekly class will begin on September 3.
For more information about HZFâ€™s Journalism Camp curriculum, how to apply, and ask questions â€“ please email us at hortenciazavalafoundation
The Hortencia Zavala Foundation (HZF) was founded in 2016 in honor of Hugo Baltaâ€™s maternal grandmother.
HZF is a not-for-profit organization that helps students offset the costs of higher education with scholarships. In 2021, the organization expanded its support of students to include the Journalism Camp, and in 2023, sponsoring a paid internship with the Latino News Network.
For Wisconsinites, this case would have little to no effect on abortion access, but could impact how miscarriages are handled. Healthcare providers in the state immediately ceased performing abortions after the June 24 Dobbs decision â€“ even though the overturning of Roe v. Wade and an 1849 abortion law pushed Wisconsin into a state of limbo regarding whether or not abortion is actually legal.
But Jenny Higgins, Director of the University of Wisconsin-Madisonâ€™s Collaborative for Reproductive Equity (CORE), says that accessing abortion care in the state was an issue long before these recent rulings.
â€œWeâ€™re overlooking the fact that many people were living in a post-Roe world for decades,â€� said the UW-Madison Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
â€œIf you live right in Beloit, it might be closer to get to Rockford, ILâ€¦ even before Roe v. Wade [was overturned], some people were getting care out of state,â€� said Higgins.
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and Illinois announced a partnership immediately after Roe fell to help support the influx of people who would cross state lines for abortion care. NPR reported that 60% of Waukeganâ€™s Planned Parenthood patients derived from out of town, mostly coming from Wisconsin. While many people seek care in neighboring states like Illinois or Minnesota, not everyone has the financial means to do so.
â€œIf you donâ€™t have a car, if you are having food insecurity, if you are having mental health challenges, even a difference of 300 miles or 200 miles can be the deciding factor between whether youâ€™re able to obtain a desired abortion or carry a pregnancy to term,â€� Higgins explained.
Besides the financial burden, research suggests that forced pregnancy does impact oneâ€™s mental health. Women who are denied abortion report higher stress and anxiety, lower self esteem and lower life satisfaction than women who had an abortion, according to a JAMA Psychiatry study.
â€œWomen of color face more structural barriers to care to begin with, and those inequities are exacerbated when these policies further diminish their power and bodily autonomy,â€� said Wizdom Powell, Chief Social Impact and Diversity Officer at Headspace Health.
â€œWe already know that Wisconsinites have been forced to carry pregnancies to term who otherwise wouldnâ€™t have been, and so given that now all of the clinics in our state donâ€™t offer abortion care, we can say with some certainty that weâ€™ll see increases in birth rates and those will be highly concentrated among people who are financially and structurally oppressed,â€� said Higgins.
The eight week paid opportunity will be considered in all LNN newsrooms in the Northeast and Midwest.
We are looking for students in all fields of Communications with a demonstrated interest in journalism. Successful applicants will be assigned meaningful work in the production of local news, including, but not limited to graphics, content development (photo/video/audio), social media, writing and copy editing suitable for their background.
The program advisors and mentors will meet with students regularly to identify and develop their summer goals.
We will be accepting all applications until May 12th, 2023. The internship is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. Applications should include at least three examples of the studentâ€™s work. Please send inquiries, resumes and cover letters to email@example.com.
The Hortencia Zavala Foundation was created in 2016 by Hugo Balta, Owner/Publisher of LNN, and twice president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), as a way to help students while honoring the legacy of his abuelita, Hortencia Zavala.
Since its inception, HZF has worked with NAHJ national and local professional chapters in identifying worthy candidates.
In 2021, HZF expanded its support of young journalists to include a journalism camp.
MADISON, WI â€“ AARP Wisconsin announced this week, the appointment of Leslie Spencer-Herrera of Whitefish Bay to the two-year position of State President â€“ the highest state-level volunteer position within the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that has more than 800,000 members statewide and nearly 38 million members nationwide.
Spencer-Herrera, 69, who was appointed to the position by AARP Wisconsin State Director Martha Cranley, will begin her role immediately.
â€œLeslie truly embodies everything AARP is striving to achieve,â€� Cranley said. â€œShe understands the importance of empowering Wisconsinites of all ages, cultural backgrounds, and income levels to live their best possible lives.”
As AARP Wisconsin State President, Spencer-Herrera will work with AARP members, volunteers, staff, legislators, and state residents on key issues facing the 50-plus population and all Wisconsinites, such as strengthening health care, long-term care, financial security, voter education, and addressing digital needs. She comes to this role with a great appreciation for all Wisconsin has to offer.
â€œI am so honored to have been appointed to this important position,â€� she said. â€œI have seen how AARP succeeds at the local, state and national levels to improve the quality of life for those over 50. â€œI have two goals. First, to help AARP to better hear and learn the hopes and needs of all Wisconsinites over 50 from Superior to Milwaukee and everywhere in between. And second, to recruit more volunteers from all our communities to make AARP more effective in meeting these hopes and needs.â€�
Spencer-Herreraâ€™s career, education, and volunteer activities have revolved around analyzing issues, developing plans, and helping organizations (both in the non-profit and for-profit sectors) to provide services to improve workforce and financial capacity of low-income individuals and families. Her professional life centered on developing training programs which helped individuals access jobs and more skilled positions.
Technology is also a big issue for some Wisconsinites, which is why Leslie is committed to narrowing the digital divide by improving access, training and affordability of computers and hand-held devices.
Having immigrated from Mexico at the age of nine, Spencer-Herrera said she saw the ability to open doors through education.Â She has a Masterâ€™s Degree in Political Science from UW-Madison and another Masterâ€™s in Curriculum & Instruction with a focus on Adult Education from UW-Milwaukee. She has an undergraduate degree from Indiana University.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment security and retirement planning.
Welcome to another episode of Wisconsin Latino News Opinion+, where we talk about major issues the Latinx and other underrepresented communities face in the state of Wisconsin. This weekâ€™s guests include two members of the Milwaukee-based organization Wisconsin Voices: Co-Executive Director of Fundraising & Development Tim Schindler and Managing Director of Operations Nicole Winters.
Wisconsin Voices is a grassroots not-for-profit organization started in 2010 to protect democracy and encourage civic participation, particularly for those in marginalized groups statewide. Historically, Wisconsin is a state with high civic engagement, but stricter voter ID laws and other suppression strategies in recent years have challenged this reputation.
Schindler and Winters explain how their work with Wisconsin Voices aims to counter this trend in their state by â€œgiving a voice to the voiceless.â€�
â€œThere are individuals that just wonâ€™t use their voice for democracy,â€� Winters said. â€œItâ€™s important because it makes a difference. It may not look that way in the end result, but when you are out there expressing your voice, using your voice to fight for democracy, it actually does make a difference.â€�
Schindler said that the organization tries to use education as one method of encouraging this participation.
“A lot of [people] donâ€™t understand whatâ€™s the difference between an alderman and a county supervisor,â€� Schindler said. â€œSo really empowering them and educating them on who to go to for what issueâ€¦ thatâ€™s a lot of the impact that weâ€™re trying to make.â€�
These goals from Wisconsin Voices are particularly applicable to the stateâ€™s Latino population, who, due to gerrymandering and strict voter ID laws, are underrepresented in local legislatures. According to Princeton Universityâ€™s gerrymandering project, Wisconsin is one of the most gerrymandered states in the country.
â€œThereâ€™s very minimal representation,â€� Schindler said. â€œEven when you look at the redistricting of Milwaukee, [Latinos] really donâ€™t have much representation in every district in Milwaukee and even in the legislature. So thatâ€™s why itâ€™s important for them to get their voices heard.â€�
Wisconsin Voices collaborates with numerous other local organizations to accomplish their broader goals of education and voter outreach. It measures success in a variety of ways, including voter turnout and overall residents reached.â€�
â€œIf our partners engage with a large number of individuals and they can talk to them and educate them on the importance of using their voice, I think thatâ€™s the greatest measurement we could ever use,â€� Winters said.
Resources mentioned in this video
Wisconsin Voices: https://www.wisconsinvoices.org/
Democrats and voting rights advocates are calling for Robert Spindell, member of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, to resign after celebrating low voter turnout among marginalized communities in the 2022 elections.
â€œâ€¦We can be especially proud of the City of Milwaukee (80.2% Dem Vote) casting 37,000 less votes than cast in the 2018 election with the major reduction happening in the overwhelming Black and Hispanic areas,â€� Spindell wrote in an email to fellow Republicans that was shared by Urban Milwaukee on Jan. 10.
Spindell, who served as a fake elector for former President Donald Trump, is now facing immense backlash from state Democratic leaders and community organizers for his comments. â€œWe don’t need election officials bragging about voter suppression, encouraging it enthusiastically as he has done,â€� Democratic state Senator Kelda Roys told WI Latino News. â€œHe needs to resign or Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, who appointed him, needs to remove him.â€�
Spindell is yet to resign or be removed from his post, and denies that he was celebrating voter suppression in his email. Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces De La Frontera in Milwaukee, is unconvinced.
â€œHeâ€™s proud that voter suppression efforts are working to limit the voting rights of Latinos and other people of color,â€� she said.
For Neumann-Ortiz, Spindellâ€™s lauding of voter disenfranchisement represents a pattern of behaviors and beliefs of Wisconsinâ€™s Republicans.
â€œHere in Wisconsin, the Republican Party has really been dominated by the interests of big business,â€� Neumann-Ortiz said. â€œTo hold power, they were part of supporting the architecture of one of the most gerrymandered states in the country.â€�
Republicans control nearly two-thirds of the stateâ€™s legislative seats, despite a strong Democratic presence. Voters reelected Democrat Gov. Tony Evers in 2022, beating his Republican challenger 51 percent to 48 percent. In eight of the last nine presidential elections, the Democratic candidate won the statewide vote in Wisconsin.
â€œIf one party was winning the majority of the statewide vote, you would think that they would be represented about the same in the state house,â€� said Sam Liebert, Wisconsin State Director of All Voting is Local.
Liebert says the gerrymandering that plagues Wisconsin disenfranchises the stateâ€™s marginalized voters the most.
â€œItâ€™s called â€˜cracking and packing,â€� Liebert said. â€œYou have a lot of brown and Black people who are in districts that are 80 percent plus Democratic. But then, most of the Republican districts are 53, 54, 55 percent.â€�
With Republicans controlling the gerrymandered legislature, Roys says that lawmakers snowball their suppression efforts to retain power by making it more difficult for voters to cast their ballots.
â€œOver the last 12 yearsâ€¦ the gerrymandered Republican legislature has worked systematically to limit access to early voting and absentee voting by implementing voter ID laws,â€� Roys said. â€œWe know in Wisconsin that people in urban areas are much less likely to have driverâ€™s licenses, and thatâ€™s the primary ID that people need to vote.â€�
Wisconsinâ€™s voter ID law, which was passed in 2011 under former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, is among the strictest in the country. Itâ€™s widely credited as the reason the stateâ€™s voter turnout was so low in the 2016 election, particularly among racial minorities in urban areas.
But in the 2022 election, state Sen. LaTonya Johnson said that voting in Wisconsin was even more stringent.
â€œThe ballot drop boxes that were legal during the presidential election were deemed to be illegal for this election,â€� Johnson said. â€œThen, they made sure that absentee voting was taken down from six weeks to two weeks â€“ we used to have six weeks to vote absentee.â€�
State Republicans performed well for their efforts in this past election. They achieved a supermajority in the state senate after a net gain of one seat, and fell just short of a supermajority in the state assembly with a net gain of three seats.
Their success was, at least in part, due to the tactics that made Spindell so proud in his email.
â€œThe Republican strategy has been very apparent for a while now,â€� Neumann-Ortiz said. â€œInstead of trying to win Latino and African American voters on policy issues and the issues that they care about, they’ve used a strategy of both voter suppression and manipulation.â€�
Roys urges these voters not to be discouraged, but to fight back.
â€œBe angry,â€� Roys said. â€œUse that anger to organize your friends and neighbors to go vote. Thereâ€™s a reason that theyâ€™re working so hard to silence your voices.â€�
Spindell did not respond to multiple requests by WI Latino News for comment.
Welcome to another episode of Wisconsin Latino News Opinion+ where we talk about major issues the Latinx and other underrepresented communities face in the state of Wisconsin. This weekâ€™s guests include three team members from the Fountain City-based organization Puentes/Bridges: Director Roberto Tecpile, President Mercedes Falk and Co-founder John Rosenow.
Like its name, this organization attempts to build bridges between farming communities and the people who immigrate to these rural areas of Wisconsin for work opportunities. Nearly six percent of Wisconsinâ€™s labor force are immigrants, and a significant portion of this immigrant population goes into the farming industry. According to Rosenowâ€™s own accounts, and a report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which included him and Tecpile, Latino immigrants are vital to Wisconsinâ€™s dairy industry.
To no surprise, Latino immigrants face language barriers with their employers, often relying on hand gestures or their phones to translate.
â€œThe desire to want to understand each other really helps a lot,â€� said Falk.
That desire prompted action. In 2001, a group of dairy farmers, including Rosenow, took a trip to Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico to visit a language school in the hopes of developing Spanish skills to better communicate with their staff. It was his idea to visit the workersâ€™ family members.
While Rosenow was doubtful about the first trip, he soon realized the value in it when their visit brought out local Mexican media, who were astounded by their arrival. He was told that it was the first time they had ever seen U.S. employers visit their employees’ hometown. After a few more pioneer trips, Puentes/Bridges was incorporated two years later.
â€œIt was like a once-in-a-lifetime experience,â€� said Rosenow, who will embark on his tenth international visit with Puentes this year.
â€œEven though there is a separate language, thereâ€™s so much that they have found in common and ways that they realize that they really connect with one another on a deeper level,â€� said Falk.
The trips act as a cross-borders, immersive, team bonding experience. Tecpile says that he has learned a lot through his experiences with Puentes. Rosenow echoes this sentiment, sharing how Puentes has helped his relationships with his workers evolve.
â€œIâ€™ve seen people die, Iâ€™ve seen people get married, Iâ€™ve seen people have children, Iâ€™ve seen the children grow up, Iâ€™ve seen the children come and work for me [as adults] after they were just little kids the first time I saw them,â€� Rosenow said.
â€œItâ€™s always been a family-type thing,â€� he said. â€œAnd now the families are just from a different country.â€�
Welcome to the very first episode of Wisconsin Latino News Opinion+ where we talk about major issues the Latinx and other underrepresented communities face in the state of Wisconsin. For this inaugural episode we spoke with two members of Milwaukee Women inc (MWi) about their efforts towards equitable leadership.
Milwaukee Women inc is an organization of professional women focused on changing the face and quality of leadership in the Wisconsin business community by increasing the number of women corporate directors. The group recently published their 2022 Research Report, â€œCelebrating 20 Years of Advancing Inclusive Leadership.â€�
The report found that MWiâ€™s goal for women to fill 25 percent of director roles in Wisconsin was met early. 26.3 percent of director seats in Wisconsinâ€™s top 50 public companies are currently held by women.
â€œWith all the data and the numbers clearly demonstrating the overall value that diversity, equity and inclusion brings, I think [it] really helped MWi achieve its goal of 25 percent by 2025,â€� said Kim Stoll, Chair of MWi and Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Badger Meter.
The statistics were much lower for women of color. In fact, only 5.7 percent of these roles are held by women of color, equating to 26 women. This number increased from last yearâ€™s report, but still displays the disparities that exist for BIPOC.
â€œOf those 26 only three are Latinas,â€� explained Nancy Hernandez, MWi Steering Committee member and President of the Hispanic Collaborative. â€œBut I think that we are seeing more women, Latinas especially, going through higher education, getting into different levels of managerial ranks and experiences and in the c-suite.â€�
Both Hernandez and Stoll remain optimistic that the continued efforts of MWi and other organizations, along with companiesâ€™ desires to be more inclusive, will lead to a continual increase of women in leadership roles.
â€œThere are women out there. Boards and companies just have to make an intentional effort and cast, perhaps, a wider net to find those candidates,â€� said Stoll.
Local Media Association announced in October, the news organizations that will participate in the third cohort of itsÂ Lab for Journalism Funding. The Latino News Network (LNN) is among the local news organizations the lab will help develop and execute strategies to fund essential local journalism via philanthropy. The six-month immersive lab runs from November 2022 through April 2023.
The lab, a project of Local Media Foundation, is operated by LMA with continued support from the Google News Initiative. Since its launch in September 2020, the lab has trained and coached 55 publishers, helping them raise more than $11 million to fund community service journalism. LMA published a 42-page report, Pathways to Philanthropy, to share lessons learned and best practices with the news industry.
â€œWe are excited to welcome this latest cohort,â€� said Frank Mungeam, chief innovation officer at Local Media Association. â€œThe lab has a proven track record, and we are excited to help these news organizations find funding as one way to sustain civic journalism and a healthy local news ecosystem.â€�
â€œThe Google News Initiative works to support a thriving local news ecosystem, and we are excited for this third cohort of news publishers in the LMA Lab for Journalism Funding to develop new, sustainable funding sources for their essential local journalism,â€� said Chrissy Towle, head of Associations and Ecosystems, Americas at Google.
The newsrooms accepted into the third cohort include a diverse set of publishers in small and large markets, with a strong representation of family-owned outlets and publishers who focus on traditionally underserved audiences. The cohort also includes two local broadcast news organizations. These news outlets share a commitment to local journalism that serves audiences in their communities. LMA asked leaders at these news outlets to share their goals for joining the lab.
â€œThe diversity of revenue sources for news outlets has grown significantly. With so many options, creating a sustainable news model can be daunting,” said Hugo Balta, Owner and Publisher of LNN. “The Latino News Network is grateful to be part of the LMA Lab for Journalism Funding, a program that Iâ€™m confident will help us develop strong competencies in harnessing local philanthropy to support reporting projects.â€�
The Latino News Network (LNN) mission is to provide greater visibility and voice to Hispanics-Latinos, amplify the work of others in doing the same, give young journalists mentoring and real work experience, and apply the principles of solutions journalism in its investigative reporting.
Wisconsin Latino News is one of six local news outlets overseen by LNN in the Midwest and New England.