February 27, 1998The President's Initiative on Race (PIR) is an effort to move the country closer to a stronger, more just, and unified America, one that offers opportunity and fairness for all Americans. It is a chance for every citizen in our country to be a part of a great national conversation about America's racial diversity and about the strength it brings our nation. One America on the Move is one of the ways in which we will inform the American public about the Initiative's progress.
President Clinton's proposed fiscal year 1999 budget -- the first balanced budget in 30 years -- provides resources for addressing issues such as education, economic opportunity, housing, health and civil rights enforcement. The policies and programs highlighted in the budget follow up on commitments the President made when he launched his Initiative on Race, as well as recommendations from the Advisory Board on which policy areas to target first. The budget proposal provides:
more than $600 million for a comprehensive action plan to promote the educational achievement of Hispanic students;
funding for 100,000 new teachers by 2005 to reduce class size to 18 in the first through third grades;
federal tax credits to pay interest on nearly $22 billion in bonds to build and modernize more than 5,000 public schools;
$400 million to help local governments attract more businesses and jobs to poor and underserved neighborhoods;
$150 million over 10 years in mandatory funding for economic development, housing projects, rental assistance and job training in a second-round urban and rural empowerment zones;
$238 million for 50,000 new vouchers for people who need housing assistance to make the transition from welfare to employment;
more than $400 million to develop new approaches and to build on existing successes to address racial and ethnic health disparities; and
an additional $86 million to increase preventive measures and non-litigation strategies while also strengthening the ability of federal agencies to enforce existing civil rights laws.
VICE PRESIDENT, CABINET AND ADVISORY BOARD ACTIONS
On February 19, Vice President Al Gore and Administrator Aida Alvarez of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced an unprecedented agreement with the "Big Three" U.S. automakers that will increase subcontracting awards to minority business by nearly $3 billion over the next 3 years -- a 50 percent increase over current levels.
On February 11, the President's Initiative on Race (PIR) held its board meeting in San Jose, California. The meeting focused on issues of race and poverty. On February 10, the Board members visited sites in the San Francisco, Oakland and East Palo Alto areas, where organizations are successfully addressing issues relating to poverty and race. Later that day, in San Jose, Advisory Board members hosted a community forum for area residents to comment on issues of race in their communities.
On January 30, the President's Initiative on Race convened approximately 200 regional corporate executives for the third Corporate Forum in Los Angeles, California, to discuss race relations and the value of diversity in the corporate arena. Mayor Riordan gave welcoming remarks and Commerce Secretary Daley facilitated the three hour discussion. The forum focused on three issues: the economic value of diversity, ways to effectively build relationships between majority and minority-owned businesses, and best practices for fostering productive, racially diverse workplaces.
On January 25, in a unique partnership, the White House and the National Football League teamed up to create a public service announcement for President Clinton's Initiative on Race. The PSA aired just prior to the kick-off of the Super Bowl to an estimated audience of 140 million people. The spot highlighted cases of players from different racial and ethnic backgrounds coming together for a common goal, an example for all Americans. President Clinton urged all Americans to remember that we are "on the same team," and that through working together, we can build one America.
The next PIR Advisory Board meeting, which will focus on Race and Stereotypes, is scheduled for March 25 in Denver, Colorado.
During the week of April 6-9, the PIR will engage colleges and universities across the nation in a Campus Week of Dialogue on Race. The week will consist of events led by the PIR, including a town hall meeting with university students.
The next Religious Forum is scheduled for April 15 in New Orleans. The purpose of the religious forums is to explore the changing nature of religion and the impact on racial reconciliation and to examine best practices in the faith community.