BUSINESS BRIEFS Part Two: Bard hate study; Bard prison initiative expands; BCD diversity scholarships; Department of Youth Services announces new resource; National Library Card Sign-up Month; BCC career planning workshops; TEDxBard College; Congressman Neal announced MCLA nursing program funding

Editor’s Note: We had so much business news this week that we decided to break Business Briefs into two parts.  This is the second part.

Bard Center for the Study of Hate publishes updated measures of hate by state in the U.S.

Annandale-On-Hudson— The Bard Center for the Study of Hate (BCSH) has released the second iteration of the State of Hate Index II (SoHI II) by Bard College’s Robert Tynes, Ph.D.,  is a political scientist who researches political violence, child soldiers, online activism, and African politics. He is Director of College-in-Prison Operations for the Bard Prison Initiative.

Image courtesy of Bard Center for the Study of Hate.

The study examines how hate manifests, and is constrained, in the 50 states of the U.S., looking at multiple indicators in order to suggest where hate might be more likely to occur. The initial Index was published in 2021. SoHI II is an updated version that accounts for the increasing levels of verbal, legal and physical animosity generated in the country. “Since the initial publication of the State of Hate Index (SoHI) in 2021, the threats to democratic discourse have only increased,” says Tynes.

According to SoHI II findings, the bottom five states where hate is most likely to manifest into violence are Idaho, Arkansas, Montana, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. These are the same bottom states as in the first SoHI, except for Oklahoma, which was 36th now tied for a ranking of 50th with Wyoming. The top five states where hate is least likely to flourish and least likely to lead to violence are New York, California, Maryland, Connecticut, and Illinois, which is also consistent with findings from the initial Index and for the top 10. Over the past two years, Texas and Florida have shown an increase in hate: Texas fell in the rankings from 19th to 25th overall, while Florida dropped from 9th to 20th overall in SoHI II.

A more detailed analysis of the Index also examined political party and white Christian nationalism. SoHI II supports findings by other scholars showing that white Christian nationalism not only parallels the Republican party, but that it also fits into a pattern of hate. “What the new report makes abundantly clear is that the states where hate is more of a danger are ones where white nationalism is more pronounced,” says Kenneth Stern, director of the Bard Center for the Study of Hate.

SoHI II also looks at hatred against women. Similar to the overall SoHI II rankings, many of the bottom states rank low when it comes to dehumanizing women. The worst states for these measures include Texas, Arizona, Idaho, Mississippi, Alaska, Tennessee, South Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

The full study can be found at: https://bcsh.bard.edu/files/2023/07/BCSH-Study-of-Hate-Index-II_Web-073123.pdf

The Bard Center for the Study of Hate (BCSH) works to increase the serious study of human hatred, and ways to combat it. Robert Tynes’ Study was underwritten with a generous grant to BCSH from the GS Humane Corporation. The Center is a program of Bard’s Human Rights Project. For more information, visit bcsh.bard.edu.

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Bard prison initiative accepts transfer students and expands as two colleges close

Annandale-On-Hudson— This summer and fall, in response to two coinciding college-in-prison program closures, the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) at Bard College has undertaken an unprecedented transfer and enrollment project to ensure no incarcerated college student is left without the ability to complete a degree.

Following financial struggles, two New York private universities, Medaille University and Alliance University have announced closing this year. Both Medaille and Alliance had long standing college-in-prison operations, enrolling incarcerated students in degree programs at Albion Correctional Facility for women and at Fishkill Correctional Facility for men, respectively.

BPI, which enrolls incarcerated students in Bard College associate and bachelor’s degrees across seven NYS correctional facilities, had been operating degree programs alongside these universities at Albion Fishkill for several years. In addition to running its general admissions process this summer, BPI offered Medaille and Alliance students immediate enrollment in Bard College as transfer students. BPI’s leadership team met with prospective transfer students both as a group and in one-on-one advising meetings to make sure students could make informed decisions about transferring into BPI.

Commencement at Fishkill Correctional Facility. Photo by Karen Pearson.

In total, 80 former Medaille and Alliance students enrolled with BPI, alongside 122 students through standard admissions, marking the largest single expansion of BPI to date.

The Bard Prison Initiative was founded by undergraduates at Bard College In 1999, in response to the decimation of college-in-prison nationally. After gaining access to the New York State prison system and securing limited funding, Bard College launched BPI as a pilot program with 16 students in 2001. Since then, the program has grown annually and dramatically. Its first associate degrees were issued in 2005 and the first bachelor’s degrees in 2008. Today, BPI operates in seven interconnected prisons in New York State. It enrolls over 400 students and organizes a host of extracurricular activities to replicate the breadth of college life and inquiry.

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Berkshire Country Day School announces merit-based scholarships to support diversity

Stockbridge— With interest in admission on the rise, Berkshire Country Day School (BCD)` is pleased and grateful to share new Merit Scholarship opportunities for Middle School enrollment beginning with the 2023-2024 academic year. These shttps://theberkshireedge.com/wp-admin/media-new.phpcholarship opportunities are specifically intended to support talented students with socioeconomic diversity.

This scholarship opportunity is made possible by the generosity of anonymous donors. Head of School Mary Warner shares, “Like many independent schools, BCD has long committed to need-based financial aid. Merit scholarships allow for even more students to be reached and celebrated for their character and potential. I am enormously grateful to our donors who demonstrated their alignment with BCD’s mission and values by making this opportunity possible.”

Berkshire Country Day School campus, aerial view. Image courtesy of BCD.

BCD seeks motivated, curious, and empathetic candidates applying for grades fifth through eighth, and has a specific focus to support qualified and talented students with socioeconomic diversity. Applicants are selected for admission based on their academic and extracurricular potential, a letter of recommendation from a community member, as well as their interest in an independent school community. For more information, visit www.berkshirecountryday.org.

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Department of Youth Services announces new resource for parents of youth in the juvenile justice system, a book by co-authors who share their lived experiences as DYS-involved parents

Massachusetts— Yesterday, the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) announced the release of “Sisters in Strength,” a booklet co-created by members of DYS’ Family Advisory Committee (FAC). The booklet serves as a resource for parents and guardians of youth involved with DYS, staff, and community partners.

This initiative is led by the FAC, which is made up of families of both current and former youth involved with DYS and seeks to integrate their perspectives into the care provided with the goal of improving future experiences for families. The FAC aims to engage, encourage, and empower families to actively participate in their child’s treatment across DYS’ continuum and to ensure families know they are not alone.

“Sisters in Strength” shares the importance of family voices in ensuring positive youth development and reintegration into society. It represents the collaborative effort needed to improve the lives of youth involved with DYS, and it serves as a beacon of hope and support for families navigating this journey alongside them. Creation of the booklet was co-facilitated by “The Rest of the Story”, a trauma-informed, community-based storytelling curriculum.

“Sisters in Strength” launch event celebrates co-authors who share their lived experiences as DYS-involved parents.

DYS Commissioner Cecely Reardon remarked, “Family engagement and support is essential for the positive youth development that ensures long-term public safety.  The FAC serves as a vital bridge between DYS and families, and we are grateful for the expertise and wisdom our families bring to the table.”

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September is National Library Card Sign-up Month and to celebrate, local businesses will be offering special discounts exclusive to Berkshire Athenaeum library card holders

Pittsfield— The Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield’s Public Library, in partnership with Downtown Pittsfield, Inc., and its member businesses, is observing National Library Card Sign-up Month during the month of September. The public is encouraged to sign up for or renew their library card at the Athenaeum and enjoy special discounts exclusive to library cardholders at participating Pittsfield businesses.

A brochure listing the discounts offered is available at Athenaeum service desks, or online at https://downtownpittsfield.com/2023/09/library-card-deals. It’s easy to take advantage of the discounts, simply show your library card at the time of purchase.

Participating businesses include 101 Restaurant & Bar, 413shirts, Ayelada, Berkshire Fitness & Wellness Center, Berkshire Museum, Crust, Garden Blossoms Florist, Hot Harry’s, Mana Crypt, On Pointe Barre & Fitness, Patrick’s Pub, Soma’s Aromas, Studio of artist Sally Tiska Rice, and Witch Slapped.

Additionally, patrons of the library may enter a raffle to win a $150 Downtown Pittsfield gift card or a Family Membership for the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum. The prizes were provided by the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum.

Supervisor of Circulation Services, Catherine Congelosi explains, “At this time of year, when the kids are back in school and we are all getting ready for fall, we like to remind our community that a library card is free and provides access to all our services. In addition to books, we offer a wide variety of downloadable titles and audiobooks, technology for in-house and take home use, a streaming service, research databases, museum passes, and our Library of Things collection. We are grateful to our Downtown Pittsfield partners for their recognition and support.”

Image courtesy of Berkshire Athenaeum.

Those with questions about National Library Card Sign-up Month at the Athenaeum can contact Congelosi at cathy@pittsfieldlibrary.org or 413 499 9480 x105 during regular library hours.

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Learn how to plan for your career with Berkshire Community College workshops

Pittsfield— Looking to begin a career or change your career path? Join Berkshire Community College (BCC)’s Community Education and Workforce Development Department, which will hold a series of career mapping workshops in September and October. Life coach Janet Forest will begin with an in-person session, followed by five 90-minute remote workshops.

Life coach, Janet Forest. Image courtesy of BCC.

Part one, “Identify Your Ideal Career Path”, will be held Wednesday, September 20th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at BCC’s main campus. The intention of this workshop is to help attendees create a realistic vision for their career path and learn what they need to do to achieve it. Using tools, exercises, and group discussion, each attendee will stretch their imagination around what they want their career to look like, get clear about what their basic needs and expectations are and start to define the actions necessary to get there. The cost is $25. 

Part Two, “Mapping Your Career Transition”, is a five-week, remote group coaching series of workshops, held Wednesdays, September 27th through October 25th from 6-7:30 pm. As a follow-up to part one, the workshops will help attendees to further clarify a vision for their career, develop confidence and strategies for a successful job search, and start taking actionable steps towards their professional goals. Attendees must register for all five workshops. The cost is $200.

By the end of the program, attendees will be equipped to submit five job applications, learn three effective job search strategies, and craft five questions to ask in an interview. To register, visit www.berkshirecc.edu/career-mapping

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“Shaping the Future” conference hosted by TEDxBard College

Annandale-On-Hudson— On September 30th, Bard College is hosting its first independently organized TEDxBard College conference, “Shaping the Future,” a day-long event featuring insightful talks from students, faculty, and members of the broader Bard community.

The student-run conference considers how the advancements of the modern age have shaped and will continue to influence human progress across various disciplines, including technology, science, art, politics, and culture. The event, organized by Bard students Thanasis Kostikas ’25, Emily O’Rourke ’26, Tom Chitwood ’26, Alex Nguyen ’23, and Luca Heidelberg ’24, under the mentorship of the Bard Center for Civic Engagement, is intended to be the first of many TEDxBard College conferences to be held in the coming years.

Image courtesy of TEDxBard College.

Speakers include Alejandro Crawford, professor of entrepreneurship at the Bard MBA in Sustainability and global lead for OSUN social entrepreneurship; Anastasia Dzutstsati, a Russian journalist, filmmaker, human rights activist, and Threatened Scholars Integration Fellow at OSUN; Lauren E. Graham, a social entrepreneur, environmentalist, and educator; Jillian Reed ’21 and Masha Zabara ’21, activists, and co-founders of the store Thrift2Fight in Tivoli, NY; Stacy Burnett ’21 MBA ’23, who began her education in the Bard Prison Initiative and now manages JSTOR access in prisons in North America and Australia; Joan Tower, renowned composer, performer, conductor, and Asher B. Edelman Professor in the Arts at Bard College; Tatjana Myoko von Prittwitz und Gaffron, an ordained Zen priest, and visiting assistant professor and Buddhist chaplain at Bard; Michael Sadowski, best-selling author and associate dean of the College at Bard ; Eban Goodstein, vice president for environmental and social leadership at Bard and director of the Bard Center for Environmental Policy; Aleksandar “Aleks” Demetriades ’25, a junior studying Politics and Public Health at Bard and senior communications intern for the Open Society University Civic Engagement Initiative; Ahed Festuk, a pioneering activist from Aleppo, Syria; and Hannah Park-Kaufmann ’24, a senior double majoring in mathematics and piano performance at Bard.

“Shaping the Future” will take place on Saturday, September 30 from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm in Olin Auditorium. To see the full schedule, please visit https://tedx.bard.edu/schedule/. Due to limited space and wide interest, the event has sold out, but a livestream of the conference will be available to view. To register for the livestream link and future TEDxBard College updates, please sign up here.

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Congressman Neal announces $620,000 for Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts nursing program in partnership with Berkshire Health Systems

North Adams— Congressman Richard E. Neal joined Massachusetts Secretary of Education, Dr. Patrick Tutwiler, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) President James F. Birge, and Berkshire Health Systems President and CEO Darlene Rodowicz to announce a $620,000 earmark to establish a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at MCLA.

The allocation was made possible through Congressionally Direct Spending (CDS) from the Department of Education. Congressman Neal included funding for this project in the Fiscal Year 2023 spending bill that was signed into law on December 29, 2022.

Massachusetts Secretary of Education, Dr. Patrick Tutwiler.

“Our public higher education system plays a critical role in preparing the future workforce of Massachusetts, which is no better encapsulated than in MCLA’s new nursing program. With this new nursing degree, MCLA will be able to ensure that the bright young students of Berkshire County and the greater region have an opportunity to pursue the nursing education they deserve, at a location they can get to,” said Massachusetts Secretary of Education, Dr. Patrick Tutwiler. “Year after year, MCLA will help prepare the next generation of western Massachusetts nurses—benefitting the school, the community, and the state.”

With this funding, MCLA will create a four-year BSN program, the first of its kind in the region, and a degree offering that is in direct response to the demands of the regional economy. The Berkshire Regional Planning Blueprint identified healthcare as one of the largest and fastest-growing fields, with healthcare and social assistance collectively accounting for 13,500 jobs in Berkshire County. As these numbers continue to rise alongside demand, the BSN program at MCLA will directly address the needs of the rural healthcare industry in Berkshire County and beyond.

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