President Obama has raised the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,730 for the 2014-15 award year – a nearly $1,000 increase since 2008. From 2009 to 2012, the graduation rate at four-year colleges and universities increased by 0.9 percentage points for Black women, 3.1 percentage points for Hispanic women, 2.7 percentage points for American Indian/Alaska Native women, and 2.1 percentage points for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women.

However, Jarrett said, there are still critical challenges and disparities that persist for women and girls of color.

“Girls of color still lag behind in their performance on standardized tests, and they are more likely to be suspended from school,” Jarrett wrote. “Women and girls of color still face higher rates of poverty and receive lower wages for their work than their white peers, and they are more likely to become involved in the criminal justice system. Women of color still have some of the highest rates of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other serious conditions, and they experience high rates of domestic violence.”

“And when women are the primary or sole breadwinners for nearly half of all households of color, these disparities do not just affect them, but their families and communities as well,” she added.

 Jarrett said the Council is convening a Working Group on Challenges and Opportunities for Women and Girls of Color. This Working Group will bring together policy staff from the White House and across federal agencies – as well as experts, leaders and advocates from outside the government – to focus on issues including education, economic security, health, criminal and juvenile justice, and violence.

“We will address barriers to access, including cultural competency, race and gender stereotypes, discrimination, and lack of sufficient resources to support programs in schools and communities,” Jarrett said.  “The aim is to develop a strategy to prepare students for in-demand careers in high-growth industry sectors.”

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President Obama: Black Women And Girls Matter, Too  was originally published on

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