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Jasmine Babers, 16, of Rock Island, IL, Wins SparkOpportunity Challenge to Connect Young People to Education, Employment PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Caitlin Johnson   
Friday, 08 June 2012 11:27
10 Winners Announced at White House Youth Summit, Featured in Jon Bon Jovi Video

June 4, 2012 (Washington, DC) - Jasmine Babers of Rock Island, IL, is a winner of the SparkOpportunity Challenge, an innovative "crowdsourcing" competition that asked young people to share their ideas on how to create local jobs and opportunities for youth. Babers, 16, won for Love, GIRLS Magazine, which teaches teenage girls about work skills, marketing, sales, writing, and photography.

The ten winners, all between the ages of 15 and 35, were announced at the White House Youth Summit and in a video featuring Jon Bon Jovi, musician and member of the youth-focused White House Council for Community Solutions. The winners receive an iPad, start-up grants of $1,500, and mentoring from recognized business and civic leaders to help make their ideas a reality.

At a time when more than 6.7 million young people are unemployed and not in school, Jon Bon Jovi traveled the country talking to thousands of young people who had practical, yet inventive ideas to help their struggling peers. Again and again, they asked how they could share their solutions and where they could be heard.

The Challenge created an opportunity for youth to turn their ideas into concrete solutions and generate support through their social networks. One hundred and thirty-five people from across the country submitted ideas on topics ranging from making higher education more affordable to helping autistic youth find meaningful employment. More than 10,000 votes were cast in just 10 days.

To all who entered, Jon Bon Jovi said, "Your ideas are promising and inspiring solutions to the employment crisis for young people."

The Challenge was developed by SparkAction and The Youth Leadership Institute in partnership with 35 leading youth organizations across the country.

The organizers developed the Challenge in support of the White House Council for Community Solutions' call for the nation to do more to reconnect young people with the education, training and comprehensive social supports that are critical for long-term employment and lifelong economic independence.

Visit to see Jon Bon Jovi announce the winners on video and for more detailed information on the winning ideas.

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The SparkOpportunity Challenge is led by three organizations:

The Forum for Youth Investment is a nonprofit, nonpartisan "action tank" dedicated to helping communities and the nation make sure all young people are Ready by 21®: ready for college, work and life. It was founded by Karen Pittman, a nationally recognized pioneer of the field of youth development in the United States.

SparkAction, which developed the Challenge idea and platform, is a collaborative journalism and advocacy website to mobilize action by and for children and youth. Its stories and action tools help concerned young people and adults get informed and get involved across the full range of issues affecting children, youth and families.

The Youth Leadership Institute has been an innovative leader in field of youth development for over 20 years, working to build communities that invest in youth and support young people in their work for effective community change. YLI serves youth and communities through advocacy, training and consulting services, and through community-based programs.

Statement from U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on June 3 Air Tanker Crash in Utah PDF Print E-mail
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Written by USDA Communications   
Wednesday, 06 June 2012 13:45
“I send my deepest condolences to the family and friends of the two brave pilots who lost their lives Sunday protecting Americans from an extremely dangerous forest fire. As we pay tribute to the memory of these two firefighters, USDA will continue to support the brave men and women fighting forest fires around our nation by working with our aircraft contractors and firefighters to manage these natural disasters as safely as possible.”  - Tom Vilsack, U.S. Agricultural Secretary

Ontology Today: "The New Copernican Revolution" PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Narveen Aryaputri   
Tuesday, 05 June 2012 14:53
ByMichael Grady
"Were there two creations instead of the one detailed in Genesis?
It appears that the writings of Christianity, Judaism and Islam point to an unseen and unexperienced creation "out of nothing", while the creation we are more familiar with exists to redeem every person ever conceived.
But redeemed from what? And how does this fit in with salvation? Angels? Heaven? Demons? Hell? Why are we here? Could this be a prison planet and the universe, really a "cosmess", and if so, why? How does ontology theology fit in with reincarnation, rational animal philosophy and the Big Bang? Not at all, according to Grady. Yet, nearly the entire academic world derives its thoughts and practices from one or more of these theories. Based on the work of Dr Robert Joyce, Grady's mentor, ontology theology may forever change how you view the world, the entire universe, and our place among all other living things. At the very least, it may shock you to a new all-encompassing awareness more closely identified with the long-repressed "preconscious". Be ready for the "intellectiscope" shock of your life!
Ontology Theologian Michael Grady has been studying the works of husband-wife team of Dr Robert and Mary Joyce since 1995. In 2010, Joyce wrote the ground-breaking trilogy "God Said Be, We Said Maybe". It is written by a theist but applies to all. According to Grady, these writings may become more important than the works of all the prior Roman Catholic writers combined, including  Augustine and Aquinas. Grady has been an Independent Scholar at the Institute held at the  Moline Club since 2004 and lives in Davenport with his wife Lina Grady, and three teenage girls. He is employed as an export consultant with Schafer Fisheries, in Thomson, IL

Simon talks pension reform with child care providers PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Justin Stofferahn   
Tuesday, 05 June 2012 14:44
CHICAGO – Lt. Governor Sheila Simon will address the need for public pension reform on Saturday at the Women’s Business Development Center’s annual Child Care Business Expo. Without reform, rising pension costs will squeeze out funding for other government expenses, putting child care funding for low-income families at risk, Simon says.

The Child Care Business Expo offers child care businesses the opportunity to gain critical information about the  industry and meet with government officials, financial advisors, child care related companies, vendors and industry experts. The Women’s Business Development Center provides programs and services to support and accelerate women’s business ownership, strengthening the impact of women on the economy.

EVENT: Women’s Business Development Center’s annual Child Care Business Expo

DATE: Saturday, June 2

TIME: 8:10 a.m.

LOCATION: University of Illinois Chicago Forum, 725 West Roosevelt Road, Chicago

NOTE: Simon will speak at 8:10 a.m., present awards at 9:15 a.m. and cut a ribbon to officially open the Expo’s exhibition at 10 a.m.



Facebook: the Anti-Social Network? PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 05 June 2012 14:29
Addiction Specialist Offers Tips for Overcoming
Tech Disconnection & Anxiety

Social media sites like Facebook connect users with old friends, new acquaintances and everyone in between. However, studies are revealing an inverse link with online connections and deeper, face-to-face relationships.

Norwegian researchers recently developed a test for networking sites, called the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale, which likens inordinate amounts of time spent on the networking site to drug and alcohol abuse. The test measures how often people use the site, if they do so to forget their problems and how using the site negatively affects their personal and working lives.

Researchers found the following groups of people most at risk for Facebook addiction:

Women, who are more social than men,
Young people, who are more tech savvy than older people
Anxious or socially insecure people

“Social media, and the new emphasis on the importance of ‘multitasking,’ have helped drive a wedge between family members,” says psychologist Gregory L. Jantz, author of #Hooked: The Pitfalls of Media, Technology and Social Networking (

Ironically, people become less social the more time they spend on social sites, and they tend to get less done while multitasking because they do not focus on completing one task at a time, he says.

“When people abuse drugs and alcohol, they are trying to feel better, yet they are worsening their situation. We’re finding this is also true for those who spend excessive amounts of time on social networking sites,” he says. “Perhaps the hardest hit from social media addiction is the family unit.”

Parents should monitor their own time online to ensure it’s not further limiting the already shrinking amount of time available with their children, Jantz says. And they need to safeguard their children by monitoring their time, as well. Jantz suggests these questions for parents to ask themselves in gauging their kids’ media usage:

• How much time do your kids spend with various forms of media? There are plenty of distractions from homework. Estimate how much time your child spends with the television, internet, social networking sites, cell phone, Blu-rays and game systems. The more time spent with media, the lower a child’s academic performance, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study.

• How much time do your kids spend with you versus online media? Remember, simply being in the same room isn’t necessarily interacting. The less the scales tip in favor of human-to-human interaction, the more likely there may be a problem.

• Do you know how each device works and how it can be used? Familiarity with your children’s gadgets gives you a better perspective of what their habits may be like.

• What are the consequences of their tech habits, and what should be changed? Make a list of the good and the bad consequences of your family’s technology use. After comparing the two lists, consider changes that can turn negatives into positives.

“Technology continues at its accelerating pace, and we are in unchartered territory,” Jantz says. “Increasingly, social networking infiltrates our personal lives, but we need to remember that it is created to serve us, and not the other way around.”

About Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D

Gregory Jantz has more than 25 years experience in mental health counseling and is the founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, near Seattle, Wash. The Center, “a place for hope,” provides comprehensive, coordinated care from a treatment team that addresses medical, physical, psychological, emotional, nutritional, fitness and spiritual factors involved in recovery. He is the best-selling author of more than 20 books on topics from depression to eating disorders.

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