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Rev. Jackson welcomes back High School Students Who Visited Historically Black Colleges

April 11, 2009

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, welcomed back 120 -high school students on Saturday who participated in the 11th Annual PUSH EXCEL HBCU tour.

"It is necessary to expose our children to the world beyond their neighborhood," he said. "This tour is about removing cultural isolation and exposing the students to the ‘I can do it' possibility of college."

Rev. Jackson made the comments during the live internationally broadcast of Saturday Morning Forum. Instead using the week as a vacation from school, the students spent their spring break visiting college campuses, filling out applications and learning more about the financial aid process.

Many students returned home with letters of acceptance. Fonpaine Coker, a junior at Calumet Prospective High School was accepted at Clark Atlanta University, and Christina Reed, a senior at Bronzeville Scholastic Institute, was admitted to Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina. Over a dozen schools were visited, providing the students with an opportunity to experience college life.

Author Alan Michael Collinge also welcomed the students back with some sound words of advice. "I would suggest you don't borrow any money. I know this may be difficult to do, but try and borrow as little money as possible."

After graduation from college, Collinge, like millions of Americans, fell behind on payments and entered a complicated student loan nightmare. He has been an activist for student loan reform since 2005.

As a nation, Americans owe approximately $700 billion in student loans. The average undergraduate borrower now leaves school with $23,000 in student loan debt--$42,000 for graduate students; and the student loan infrastructure is designed to exploit students and maximize profits for lenders. Now, in the midst of this economic crisis, more and more students are falling into a financial hole with little hope of escape.

April 12- 18 mark National Library Week. According to the American Library Association's (ALA) 2009 State of America's Libraries Report, Americans visited their libraries nearly 1.4 billion times and checked out more than 2 billion items in the past year, an increase of more than 10 percent in both checked out items and library visits, compared to data from the last economic downturn in 2001.

"In record numbers job-seekers are turning to their local libraries for support," said Keith Michael Fiels, national director for the American Library Association. "Library staffs are assisting patrons with job-related activities such as teaching computer skills; providing resources to prepare resumes and cover letters; how to conduct a job-search; and guidance on how to apply for jobs online."

On other fronts, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the Citizenship Education Fund will host their 2009 annual conference, "A More Perfect Union -- Targeted Stimulus: The Key to Reconstruction," from June 27 to July 1 at the Hyatt McCormick Place, 2233 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., Chicago.

Saturday Morning Forum airs at 10 a.m. CST on the Word Network, CAN-TV and WJYS.

The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization protecting, defending and expanding civil rights to improve economic and educational opportunity. The organization is headquartered at 930 E. 50th St. in Chicago. For more information about the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, please visit www.rainbowpush.org or call (773) 373-3366