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Thrive Scholars Responds to Supreme Court Ruling on Race-Conscious Admissions



LOS ANGELES /PRNewswire/ — Today, the Supreme Court has ruled that colleges are no longer allowed to use race as a criterion for admissions, stripping college admissions officers of one of their most effective interventions for making their campuses the types of diverse learning institutions they know will best prepare all students for lifelong success.

Thrive Scholars at Summer Academy at the University of Chicago (2022). Summer Academy offers two summers of 6-week academically intensive programming that prepares underserved students of color for the first-year rigors of top colleges.

Thrive Scholars, a national nonprofit that for 20 years has supported high-achieving, underrepresented students of color get into and graduate from top colleges to help them find success in careers that lead to economic mobility, believes this decision will exacerbate diversity challenges on campus, make it harder for talented students of color to achieve their dreams, hinder their sense of belonging, and send the wrong signal to students currently on campuses across the country.

“Before I was connected with Thrive Scholars, I was limited by what I was able to see and didn’t have exposure to the opportunities that were truly out there,” said Venezia Garza, a Thrive Scholar and college student in her junior year at Princeton. “Within school, I struggled to feel a sense of belonging as the goals I had for myself of pursuing higher education were out of place and foreign to most. Attending my first Summer Academy as a Thrive Scholar completely broke down the limiting perceptions of myself and introduced me to a brilliant community of students who looked like myself and had lived through similar experiences. Summer Academy prepared me with the intellectual tools I now use to find success at Princeton.”

As Justice Sotomayor references in her dissent, one main reason colleges use race as a factor in college admissions is to address the opportunity gap – the fact that while talent is equally distributed, opportunity is not. Many under-resourced high schools serve student populations primarily comprised of students of color and do not provide them the opportunities they need to develop the credentials selective colleges are looking for in admissions. For example, more than half of the public high schools where Black and Latino students make up the majority of enrollment do not offer AP Calculus – a gateway course to many top selective colleges.

This understanding forms the foundation for Thrive Scholar’s programming. By providing the academic support and access to opportunity in high school that more privileged students take for granted to a broader, more diverse range of students, we help talented students develop the credentials, skills, and experiences top colleges are looking for.

“We start with our Summer Academy, an academically intensive program over two summers in the 11th and 12th grade where our Scholars attend a daily three-hour calculus class and a three-hour college writing course every day for six weeks each summer, taught by college professors on a college campus,” said Tyra Anderson-Montina, Chief Program Officer at Thrive Scholars. “The data on this intervention is overwhelming. Over 40 percent of our Scholars who participate in Thrive Scholars’ Summer Academy attend Ivy Plus colleges, with 85 percent attending the Top 50 schools.”

Students who participate in Thrive Scholars Summer Academy statistically go on to have a higher college GPA, are 10% more likely to graduate, and are 33% more likely to persist in STEM than students of all demographic backgrounds who attend their same top schools. The data is clear – these students have the talent and determination to succeed; they just need the same access to opportunity and skills building that others take for granted. 

“While the laws may change, our values will not. At Thrive Scholars, we believe high-achieving students of color belong in higher ed institutions and diverse college campuses are important,” said Steve Stein, CEO of Thrive Scholars. “We will work with our academic partners to comply with all laws as we advance our mission in this new environment. We believe our mission is more relevant and vital now than ever before and will continue to support underserved talent in their academic and career journeys.”

About Thrive Scholars

Thrive Scholars is a national nonprofit that for 20 years has worked hard to help high-achieving, underrepresented students of color from economically disadvantaged backgrounds get into and graduate from top colleges equipped to achieve their full career potential. Thrive Scholars uses data to develop programming that translates to Scholar success through a full suite of academic preparation, mentorship, social-emotional, financial, and career counseling to close the opportunity gap.

SOURCE Thrive Scholars


Boom Partners with Latecoere for Supersonic Aircraft EWIS Architecture

Boom teams up with Latecoere to redefine EWIS architecture for supersonic aircraft, bringing together expertise for optimal safety and reliability.



Boom, the innovative aerospace company, has announced its collaboration with global aerospace leader Latecoere as part of its expanding network of suppliers. Latecoere’s engineering team in Toulouse, France, will work in conjunction with Boom engineers to define the complete electrical wiring interconnection system (EWIS) architecture for both Overture and Symphony aircraft.

Latecoere’s expertise in developing and manufacturing certifiable EWIS and advanced aircraft technologies makes them a valuable addition to Boom’s lineup of suppliers for Overture. The EWIS for these aircraft will consist of an extensive 103 kilometers (64 miles) of wiring, encompassing over 45,000 electrical connections. This comprehensive system ensures optimal safety and reliability for Overture and Symphony.

Latecoere brings years of experience in complex aircraft development processes and methods, making them an ideal partner for Boom. The company’s industry-leading harness architecture definition software stack will be leveraged to support Boom’s ambitious goals in sustainable supersonic air travel.

By collaborating with top-tier suppliers like Latecoere, Boom is demonstrating its commitment to assembling a world-class team to make supersonic air travel a reality. Latecoere’s CEO, Greg Huttner, expressed pride in supporting Boom’s vision and continuing to contribute to the development of next-generation flight. This partnership is a significant step forward in the advancement of supersonic aviation technology.


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Sandra Day O’Connor Institute Mourns Passing of Founder



PHOENIX (Newswire.com) – The namesake organization founded by the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court is mourning the loss of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

“No words can describe the profound loss of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The organization she founded remains resolute and will redouble our efforts to continue her lifetime work and extraordinary legacy,” said Gay Firestone Wray, Board of Directors Co-Chair.

In Memoriam
Honoring the life and legacy of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

The Institute will carry on its mission to further the distinguished legacy and lifetime work of Justice O’Connor to advance American democracy through civil discourse, civic engagement, and civics education.

“From our organization’s founding in 2009 following her retirement from the Supreme Court, Justice O’Connor led our organization with vision and intellect, and she exemplified our nation’s ideals,” said Sarah Suggs, President and CEO. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to continue her work and dedication to our great nation.”

Sandra Day was born on March 26, 1930, in El Paso, Texas. She spent much of her younger years on her family’s 160,000-acre Lazy B ranch on the Arizona-New Mexico border. At 16 she went to Stanford University for college, graduating magna cum laude with a degree in economics. She stayed for law school. Day graduated and, six months later, married John O’Connor, the love of her life. They eventually moved to Phoenix, where Sandra Day O’Connor began her rapid professional rise, which included holding positions as assistant attorney general of Arizona, majority leader of the Arizona State Senate, and judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals. She also found time to raise three sons—Scott, Brian, and Jay—and make every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

On August 19, 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court; on September 21 she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate with a vote of 99-0.  

Her career on the Court was historic. Justice O’Connor will be remembered not only for being the first female on the Court, or for her clear-eyed judicial reasoning and writings and major decisions, but also for her insistence on civility, her penchant for bringing people together to solve problems, whether in Washington, D.C. or over tacos and beer in her Arizona dining room.

“She overcame obstacles with quiet skill and determination and, in the process, inspired and continues to inspire countless others,” said Institute Board of Directors Co-Chair Matt Feeney.

We will miss you, Justice O’Connor.  

About the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute for American Democracy
Founded in 2009 by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the O’Connor Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3), continues her distinguished legacy and lifetime work to advance American democracy through multigenerational civil discourse, civic engagement and civics education. Visit www.OConnorInstitute.org for more information.

Source: Sandra Day O’Connor Institute for American Democracy

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University Receives $5 Million from U.S. Army Research Office to Combat Adversarial Information Campaigns



Newswise — Dr. Nitin Agarwal, founding director of the Collaboration for Social Media and Online Behavioral Studies (COSMOS) Research Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, has received $5 million from the Army Research Office to evaluate and defend against emerging cognitive threats.

The Army Research Office is a directorate of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory.

The project, set to run through 2025, aims to identify research gaps in deviant socio-technical behaviors, shape an agenda focused on developing strategies that can counter emerging threats, and create tools for near real-time analysis of such threats. 

“Narratives on social media could be easily weaponized and propagated at frighteningly fast speeds,” Agarwal said. “Such insidious threats that attempt to influence beliefs and behaviors need to be considered as modern weapons of cognitive hijacking. We need to develop scientific approaches to combat these emerging threats in a global context, equip our warfighters with these capabilities, and strengthen community resiliency.”

Agarwal, Jerry L. Maulden-Entergy Endowed Chair and Distinguished Professor in the Department of Information Science, says these threats are increasingly flash mob-type events, where groups self-organize and coordinate in cyberspace, then disperse. Coordinated cognitive attacks can cause stock market frenzy, violent protests, highly coordinated cyberattacks on public infrastructure, for instance. To an outsider such acts may look arbitrary, however intense coordination happens in the background. 

“Given the evolving technological landscape and increasing complexity of cognitive attacks, research is warranted to develop multidisciplinary and theoretically grounded capabilities to evaluate emerging socio-cognitive threats that can serve the needs of our military at strategic, tactical, and operational levels,” Agarwal said.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman is a strong advocate for basic and applied research at UA Little Rock.

“The evolving nature of social media and the changing tactics our adversaries use to spread misinformation requires us to develop a strategy to respond,” Sen. Boozman said. “Dr. Agarwal’s research will help create critical tools to combat bad actors on these platforms. I’m proud to support Arkansas’s role in advancing solutions to counter cyber threats.”

“We are extremely grateful to the Army Research Office, UA Little Rock leadership and U.S. Sen. John Boozman for championing this vital research,” Agarwal added. “It helps position the COSMOS Research Center at the forefront of developing capabilities to combat cognitive threats. The investment will help put these capabilities in the hands of our warfighters to ultimately strengthen our national defense and security apparatus.”

When narratives rapidly evolve in an unchecked online environment, the results can be dangerous. State and non-state actors, alike, can use social media platforms to amplify certain narratives and sway public opinion in their favor. Some of Agarwal’s previous research has shown how YouTube’s algorithms can be manipulated to promote positive content about China while crushing negative news like human rights violations against Uyghur minorities in western China, or how the terrorist organization, Islamic State, uses bots to recruit members and for propaganda campaigns.

“There are many popular shows about the use of forensics to solve physical crimes. Somewhat similarly, Dr. Agarwal uses social cyber forensics to determine the sources of scams and influence campaigns, some of which threaten our country and its allies,” said Dr. Lawrence Whitman, dean of the Donaghey College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. “He works closely with the Army to apply the methods and tools his team has developed to make us all safer. It’s great to have Dr. Agarwal working on these threats, and we are grateful to have this partnership with the Army Research Office.”

Agarwal’s research team investigates governments, groups, and individuals who use advanced communication tactics to orchestrate sophisticated cognitive attack campaigns through a variety of existing and emerging social media platforms, particularly multimedia-rich platforms. 

U.S. defense groups are interested in the work because it helps to identify how adversaries are promoting certain narratives via social media, how such narratives resonate with the target audience, and how those narratives can be combated. Training exercises will be conducted to enhance the U.S. workforce with skills in big data analytics, data management, machine learning, and artificial intelligence with applications in security. 

The award will provide support for high-speed computational servers that are necessary to support the processing of large volumes of multimodality data, which includes text, image, video, audio, reach, engagement, metadata, and interactions. It is also expected to fund around 15 student research positions, several postdoctoral research fellowships, and data engineer positions.

“The funds will help create exciting opportunities for our students and research staff by exposing them to real world problems and stimulating them to develop science-based solutions,” Agarwal said. 

This research was sponsored by the Army Research Office and was accomplished under Grant Number W911NF-23-1-0011. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the Army Research Office or the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government is authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for Government purposes notwithstanding any copyright notation herein.

Source: University of Arkansas at Little Rock

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