President Obama announced on Friday the beginning of a five-year initiative called Prosperity Together that pledges $100 million to low-income black women and an additional $18 million to research institutions studying the living conditions of black women and girls. The initiative outlined five major goals: reducing suspensions of black girls in schools, offering support to victims of abuse and trauma, incentivizing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education, reducing rates of teen pregnancy, and tackling economic obstacles.
Young black women face disproportionate rates of teen pregnancy, make only 60 cents on the dollar compared to white men, and are suspended from school six times more than white girls. Black girls are also significantly more likely to be arrested in school than white peers, and studies find that the behaviors that lead to arrests and suspensions for black girls are often directly attributable to experiences of trauma and sexual abuse. The White House outlined signs of positive momentum for black women: “The growth in the number of businesses owned by black women outpaces that of all women-owned firms. Teen births are down, and high school graduation and college enrollment rates are up,” but acknowledged that there’s a long way to go.
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