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HOMEBOY Industries Founder Father Gregory Boyle is Hoping for a Miracle

My daughter and I were 10 minutes late to Father Gregory Boyle’s book signing Tuesday night and were surprised to find a standing room only auditorium on a day that reached over 105 degrees outside. Fr. Boyle spent the next hour regaling the audience with stories about the “homeboys” he has been helping for the last 22 years in downtown Los Angeles.  Particularly moving was his recounting of his trip to Washington D.C. with three of his “homeboys” at the bequest of First Lady Laura Bush.

After visiting HOMEBOYS in LA, Mrs. Bush asked Fr. Boyle to speak at a conference in the nation’s capital and then to come with the invited homeboys to a White House dinner. Fr. Boyle described in great detail the difficulties of getting security checks through the Secret Service since all three homeboys were ex felons, he spoke of the difficulties of getting permission from the probation department, he described the pride the men showed when they were being fitted for suits, and he described amidst audience laughter the White House menu that included potatoes stuffed with caviar that one of the men found “nasty.” But perhaps most movingly, he spoke of the trip back home and how one of the homeboys brought a stewardess to tears when he told her of his adventure in Washington D.C. and she was able to see how far he had come as a man and not as a tattooed felon.

The mission of HOMEBOY Industries is to assist at-risk and formerly gang-involved youth to become positive and contributing members of society through job placement, training and education.  According to NPR, Homeboys is the largest gang intervention program in the country. But sadly in May, Fr. Boyle announced that the organization was another victim of the Great Recession and he had laid off his staff of 300 ex gang members and the organization was now struggling to survive.

Soon after the layoff announcement Boyle spoke with NPR.

“We hope that someone will rescue us,” Boyle said. “But maybe it won’t happen. Is there another place in the county of L.A. where people with records and with a gang past can go and jump-start their life? No, there isn’t.”

Boyle says the program’s successful Homeboy bakery, silk-screening and the Homegirl Cafe remain open for business. But with very little government funding and no major donations, there’s simply no money for services. After Boyle announced the layoffs, many of his workers vowed to stay on as volunteers.

“I couldn’t get from my car to here without people hugging me and [saying] we’re staying, we’re not going anywhere, you don’t have to pay us,” Boyle said. “But they can’t do this forever. … We’re probably in denial a little bit, but we’re hoping … the fat lady hasn’t sung yet.”

At the end of Tuesday’s talk it didn’t appear that many in the audience wanted to leave including us. Attendees stood in a long line that wrapped around the room for a chance to say hello to Boyle and have him sign a copy of his  book “Tattoos on the Heart”.

Tonight Fr. Boyle will be at another book signing at Our Lady of Malibu at 7:30 pm.  If you can’t make it, you can view a schedule of his appearances at the HOMEBOY Industries website. My daughter and I are going to try to be early this time so we don’t miss the first minutes of his address.

Shrinking the Cost of College

Bestselling College Author to Provide Teens, College Students and Parents with Tips on How to Cut the Price of a Bachelor’s Degree on First Twitter #CollegeChat

lynnsheadshotLos Angeles, CA, May 19, 2010— Bestselling author and higher-education journalist Lynn O’Shaughnessy will share tips from her new book Shrinking the Cost of College: 152 Ways to Cut the Price of a Bachelor’s Degree during the first edition of  #CollegeChat on Twitter on June 1, 2010 at 6 pm Pacific, Theresa Smith, principal of Pathway Communications and moderator of #CollegeChat announced today.

During the live Twitter chat, Lynn will discuss how to become a smart consumer in cutting the cost of college and will describe how the college financial aid process works and where to find the money. Among Lynn’s 152 tips to shrink college costs are:

  • Learn which 60 colleges offer the best financial aid packages
  • Discover where you’ll find the biggest source of scholarship cash
  • Find out why 82% of students at private colleges receive merit scholarships and how your child can
  • Discover how teens can win academic scholarships despite mediocre SAT/ACT scores
  • Find out how students can capture scholarships by leveraging their gender
  • Learn how to use a free federal database to investigate any school in the country
  • Find out how you can make $200,000 and still qualify for significant need-based aid at pricey colleges


Lynn is also the author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller. She regularly writes about college for CBSMoneyWatch and at her own higher-ed blog – TheCollegeSolutionBlog. She has shared her college advice in such media outlets as Business Week, Los Angeles Times, CNN, Associated Press, The New York Times and Money Magazine. The higher-ed journalist gives presentation about college strategies at schools, financial firms and corporations. Lynn also provides private consulting services for families who desire help in navigating the college process.

New to Twitter?

In order to participate in the chat, attendees will need to have a Twitter account.  To sign up for a Twitter account, go to http:// twitter.com. The easiest way to follow the chat is to use TweetChat (http://tweetchat.com). Simply log in to TweetChat with your Twitter information (email or username followed by password) and then enter in CollegeChat without the “#” and you will be placed into the chat room with only those participating in #CollegeChat. More detailed information about signing up for Twitter and using TweetChat can be found at http://pathwaypr.com/how-to-participate-in-a-twitter-chat

About #CollegeChat

#CollegeChat is a live monthly conversation intended for teens, college students, parents, and higher education experts on Twitter. Questions for each #CollegeChat edition should be sent to Theresa Smith, the moderator of #CollegeChat either via http://Twitter.com/collegechat or by entering questions online at http:// pathwaypr.com/shrinking-the-cost-of-college . CollegeChat can also be found on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/collegechat .

About Pathway Communications

Pathway Communications is a Los Angeles based public relations and social media consultancy that has helped put both emerging small and medium sized companies targeting a number of industries — including higher education, financial services, bio-technology, manufacturing, technology and e-commerce –on the map and at the forefront of the conversation. Pathway Communications’ clients have stretched from the Silicon Valley to the East Coast. More information can be found at http:// pathwaypr.com, by phone at 818-704-8481, or by email. Pathway is on Twitter at http://twitter.com/pathwaypr.

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Editors Note: All trade or brand names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.

How to Participate in a Twitter Chat

If you are new to Twitter, you might not have participated in a Twitter Chat but you have probably come across a chat taking place. Twitter chats are scheduled conversations between Twitter users about whatever topic that interests them and are kept on track with a #hashtag, a topic with a hash symbol (“#”) at the start to identify it. One of my favorite Twitter chats to participate in is #journchat. It occurs on Monday evenings and is a weekly conversation between journalists, bloggers and public relations folks that was started by Sarah Evans.

Participating in a Twitter chat is a great way to learn from and connect with other individuals who might also share your passion for a specific subject area. According to the Twitter Chat Schedule , maintained by Robert Swanwick,  there are already over 132 chats on Twitter and they cover almost every subject area imaginable including blogging, design, small business advice,  and gardening. On June 1, 2010 at 6 PM Pacific #CollegeChat will make its debut on Twitter and will be moderated by me through my @collegechat Twitter account. #CollegeChat will start out as a monthly conversation intended for teens, college students, parents, and higher education experts on Twitter.

Getting Started

In order to participate in a Twitter chat, attendees will need to have a Twitter account.  To sign up for a Twitter account, go to http:// twitter.com. Once you have your Twitter account, you are ready to go.

There are a number of formats to use to follow a Twitter chat but the easiest way I have found to follow the chat is to use TweetChat (http://tweetchat.com). Assuming you will be joining me on #CollegeChat, simply log in to TweetChat with your Twitter information (email or username followed by password) and then enter in CollegeChat without the “#” and you will be placed into the chat room with only those participating in #CollegeChat.

You can also participate in the chat from the main Twitter screen. Just enter the #hashtag for the chat with the “#” sign into the ‘search” box and you will be able to see everyone who is participating. If you want to join in, you will need to remember to add the #hashtag after every entry. You don’t need to do this step if you use TweetChat.

I hope you can join me on June 1, 2010 at 6 PM Pacific for the first #CollegeChat. Our first guest will be Amazon bestselling author and higher education  journalist Lynn O’Shaughnessy who will share tips from her new book Shrinking the Cost of College: 152 Ways to Cut the Price of a Bachelor’s Degree

Eight Tips for College Students to Save Thousands of Dollars on College Costs

Disclaimer-Client news release

LA CANADA, CA, July 27, 2009— Over the next month nearly 19 million students are set to return to college campuses across the country during the worst economic crisis in more than 70 years. Making matters worse, over the last 25 years, tuition and fees have risen four times faster than the rate of inflation. But according to Steve Loyola, president and founder of Best Book Buys (http://www.bestbookbuys.com), a leading online comparison shopping service for textbooks and books, students can save thousands of dollars off their 2009/2010 college costs

“These are very challenging times for students and their families,” said Loyola. “But, with a little planning, research and good bookkeeping, students and their families can save thousands of dollars off expenses including textbooks, room and board, taxes, car expenses, health insurance and cashing in on AP credits. You just need to get started now and not delay.”

Loyola recommends the following tips:

  • Buy textbooks online. According to the College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges, students spend more than $1000 per year on books and supplies. By comparing the cost of buying textbooks at an online comparison shopping site like BestBookBuys.com, students can save up to 76 percent off the list price of their textbooks. BestBookBuys.com compares the cost of renting or buying used, new, and international textbooks across thousands of online sellers and online stores including eBay, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Abebooks, Powells, Textbooks.com, Chegg, half, Overstock and many others. BestBookBuys compares the cost of more than 6 million book titles and also enables consumers to compare the costs of books via their cell phones at http://m.bestbookbuys.com
  • Compare the cost of meal plans. Meal plans vary widely in price and the number of meals allowed.  For example, at Occidental College meal plans range from $1,790 to $2,615 per semester and at Vassar College meal plans range from $2,140-2,742.50 per semester. By selecting a mid range plan, students can save hundreds of dollars annually.
  • Consider making a financial aid appeal. If your family’s finances have taken a detour in 2009 compared with 2008, do consider filing an appeal with your financial aid office. Check your college’s website for instructions. If you can’t find instructions, call your college’s financial aid office. If one of your parents lost their job or the family income was reduced, explain in detail. If you haven’t applied for financial aid, do so by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Don’t forget to claim the new higher education tax credits made available by the stimulus plan signed in February. Under the credit, taxpayers can get a reduction in their 2009 tax bill of up to $2500 per student provided the tax filers have an adjusted gross incomes of less than $80,000 a year (if single) or $160,000 (if they file jointly). An eligible family with two kids in college could get a tax credit of $5,000. In order to get the credit, you will need to fill out IRS form 8863.
  • Check your health insurance. Many colleges charge a built-in fee for health insurance through the college. If you are already insured on your parent’s policy, appeal this amount. At the University of California Irvine, for example, you could save $671 per year if covered under a separate health insurance policy.
  • Leave your car at home. By leaving your car at home you will not only save on the amount you pay in car insurance but also on parking permits ($711 annually at UCLA and $568 annually at the University of Arizona), gas, oil and other upkeep. Check out instead if your college town offers free public transportation to students, many do.
  • Make sure to claim your Advanced Placement (AP) credits. By now, incoming freshmen have received their AP scores. Check out www.collegeboard.com/ap/creditpolicy to see if your score may have earned you college credit. In addition, if students received scores of 3 or higher on at least three or more AP Exams, they should check with their college to see if they have sophomore standing. If you have sophomore standing and attend a public university you may have saved yourself at least $6,585, the average tuition and fees at a four year public university according to 2008 Trends in College Pricing from the College Board.
  • Consider going to summer school. By attending summer school at a junior college, students can potentially save hundreds if not thousands off their college expenses. Just make sure to take the description of the course(s) you are considering to your college advisor to make sure they will accept the credits.

Best Web Buys first made a name for itself twelve years ago with the launch of one of the first online price comparison sites- Best Book BuysÒ. Best Book Buys has been helping college students from more than 1500 colleges across the nation find the best prices for their new and used textbooks since 1997. Best Web Buys’ five product specific sites — Best Book Buys, Best Music Buys, Best Video Buys, Best Bike Buys and Best Electronic Buys — compare prices, shipping and availability of more than six million titles and items at hundreds of online stores and thousands of Alibris, eBay, half.com and Amazon marketplace sellers. Steve Loyola, a former Jet Propulsion Laboratory computer scientist, founded the company.

The Best Childrens’ Books Ever

We are now half way through the summer  and if you have kids you are probably beginning to hear how bored they are. Coinciding with children, summer and boredom is the New York Times columnist  Nicholas  Kristof’s list of the  The Best Kids’ Books Ever”. In his article introducing the books, he writes that “American children drop in I.Q. each summer vacation — because they aren’t in school or exercising their brains.”

Creative Commons License photo credit: Lori Greig

Without further adieu, here is his list:

1. “Charlotte’s Web.” The story of the spider who saves her friend, the pig, is the kindest representation of an arthropod in literary history.

2. The Hardy Boys series. Yes, I hear the snickers. But I devoured them myself and have known so many kids for whom these were the books that got them excited about reading. The first in the series is weak, but “House on the Cliff” is a good opener. (As for Nancy Drew, I yawned over her, but she seems to turn girls into Supreme Court justices. Among her fans as kids were Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.)

3. “Wind in the Willows.” My mother read this 101-year-old English classic to me, and I’m still in love with the characters. Most memorable of all is Toad — rich, vain, childish and prone to wrecking cars.

4. The Freddy the Pig series. Published between 1927 and 1958, these 26 books are funny, beautifully written gems. They concern a talking pig, Freddy, who is lazy, messy and sometimes fearful, yet a loyal friend, a first-rate detective and an impressive poet. These were my very favorite books when I was in elementary school. A good one to start with is “Freddy the Detective” or “Freddy Plays Football.” (Avoid the first and weakest, “Freddy Goes to Florida.”)

5. The Alex Rider series. These are modern British spy thrillers in which things keep exploding in a very satisfying way. Alex amounts to a teenage James Bond for the 21st century.

6. The Harry Potter series. Look, the chance to read these books aloud is by itself a great reason to have kids.

7. “Gentle Ben.” The coming-of-age story of a sickly, introspective Alaskan boy who makes friends with an Alaskan brown bear, to the horror of his tough, domineering father.

8. “Anne of Green Gables.” At a time when young ladies were supposed to be demure and decorative, Anne emerged to become one of the strongest and most memorable girls in literature.

9. “The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be.” This is a hilarious, poignant and exceptionally well-written memoir of childhood on the Canadian prairies. (Note, if you prefer sweet to funny, try “Rascal” instead.)

10. “Little Lord Fauntleroy.” This classic spawned the Fauntleroy suit and named a duck (Donald Duck’s middle name is Fauntleroy). An American boy from a struggling family turns out to be heir to an irritable and fabulously wealthy old English lord, whom the boy proceeds to tame and civilize.

11. “On to Oregon.” This outdoor saga, written almost 90 years ago, is loosely based on the true story of the Sager family journeying by covered wagon in 1848, in the early days of the Oregon Trail. The parents die on route, and the seven children — the youngest just an infant — continue on their own. They are led by 13-year-old John: spoiled, surly, often mean, yet determined and even heroic in keeping his siblings alive.

12. “The Prince and the Pauper.” Most kids encounter Mark Twain through “Tom Sawyer,” but this work is at least as funny and offers unforgettable images of English history.

13. “Lad, a Dog” is simply the best book ever about a pet, a collie. This is to “Lassie” what Shakespeare is to CliffsNotes. The book was published 90 years ago, and readers are still visiting Lad’s real grave in New Jersey — plus, this is a book so full of SAT words it could put Stanley Kaplan out of business.

Did Kristof mention all your favorites?  What kids’ books would you recommend?

Best Business Books via Business Week

How is your summer reading going? Have you started? Today Business Week Online published “Reading List” an article chronicling a list of business book recommendations from a “bevy of prominent professors and business professionals and asked them about their favorite books, business or otherwise. Browse around and discover what made those books inspirational, instructive, or influential in their thinking and their careers. What would they advise you to read if you had the chance to ask them?”

Business Week’s list of books was compiled from 38 professors and business professional across the country.

fred vargas
Creative Commons License photo credit: dottorpeni

Here’s a partial list of the recommended books:

Innovator’s Dilemma

Liar’s Poker

2020 Vision

Good to Great

Long Walk to Freedom

Business as a Calling: Work and the Examined Life

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long Term Capital Management

Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance

The Economics of Industrial Innovation

Information Rules

Who Moved My Cheese

The Road Ahead

Values of the Game

Destiny of Change

What books would you recommend and why?

NPR Host and Fortune editor Matt Miller at Milken Institute on February 26, 2009

NPR host and Fortune editor Matt Miller will be discussing his new book The Tyranny of Dead Ideas: Letting Go of the Old Ways of Thinking to Unleash a New Prosperity at the Milken Institute on February 26, 2009 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

During the Forum, Miller will challenge the audience to shake up the status quo and thereby rethink their fundamental assumptions.

According to David Gergen, director of the Center for Public Leadership, Harvard University, and senior political analyst, CNN:

To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, our times are piled high with difficulty, and just as we must act anew we must think anew. Matt Miller is one of those few, invaluable voices who is able to reach beyond the truisms of yesterday to help us think anew about tomorrow.

The Forum is free but registration is required. Registration is available at https://www.milkeninstitute.org/store/registration_event.taf?eid=263 mattmiller97808050878711