Oklahoma Policy Institute to provide diversity training to employees, students

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Oklahoma Policy Institute to provide diversity training to employees, students

Representatives from the Oklahoma Policy Institute in Tulsa will be on the Northwestern Oklahoma State University campus Jan. 27 for a Diversity Training Workshop presentation.

All university employees and students are encouraged to attend the discussion on “Poverty Impact on Educational Achievement and Success” from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in the Student Center Ranger Room.

 Northwestern’s Diversity Committee offers training and workshops for its employees and students in an area of diversity every year.

According to a release issued in September by the Oklahoma Policy Institute (www.okpolicy.org), a non-partisan independent policy think-tank launched in early 2008, new data shows that poverty remained high in Oklahoma last year, highlighting that many people have not yet recovered from the recession and underscoring the need for Oklahoma to do more to help people struggling to afford basics like decent housing, affordable health care, nutritious food, reliable child care and transportation.

 Also, information from an article titled “Closing the Opportunity Gap: Building equity in Oklahoma” from the OK Policy website states:  “Oklahoma is transforming from a state with a predominately white population, to one that is increasingly diverse.  Children of color now comprise a majority of the population of children in 11 of the state’s 77 counties, and 44 percent of all children in Oklahoma are racial and ethnic minorities.”

A little more than 625,000 Oklahomans lived in poverty in 2013, or about one in six residents, according to Census Bureau data. That’s less than $24,000 a year for a family of four. Oklahoma’s poverty level declined slightly to 16.8 percent in 2013 from 17.2 percent in 2012, but has increased 0.9 percentage points since 2007. The child poverty rate in 2013 was 23.5, a decrease of 0.3 percentage points since 2012. The rate of families in poverty grew 0.6 percentage points from 2012, to 12.5 percent in 2013.

 Oklahomans’ median incomes grew slightly to $45,690 in 2013 from $44,956 in 2012, an increase of 1.6 percent, the Census Bureau found. However, they still remain more than $1,000 per year below 2007 levels. Income and poverty data showed that the state’s ethnic and racial groups have fared differently in recent years. While white Oklahomans, Latinos and Native Americans all saw incomes rise this year, Black Oklahomans saw incomes drop. Concurrently, the percent of African Americans in poverty in Oklahoma has grown by 2.3 percentage points since 2007 (29.7 percent in 2013, from 27.4 percent in 2007), while poverty levels have dropped for almost every other group. However, median incomes in Latino households have raised more than $3,000 since 2007 ($39,003 in 2013, from $35,740 in 2007).

For more information on Northwestern’s Diversity Committee or the Department of Social Sciences, please contact Dr. Kay Decker, chair of the Department of Social Sciences and professor of sociology, at (580) 327-8521 or kldecker@nwosu.edu.