01-17-2022  12:13 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

The Skanner Foundation Drum Major for Justice 2022 is Teressa Raiford

Through political campaigns, legal actions, founding the grassroots organizing group Don't Shoot Portland and through her fearless determination to speak up against racial injustice, Portland-born Teressa Raiford has made a lasting impression on our city and our state

Paid Workplace Training Internships Program Receives Support From City

Black, Latinx students receive skilled on-the-job training, career coaching, through POIC-RAHS program

Oregon Supreme Court OKs Dropping Bar Exam for Alternatives

The state’s highest court in a unanimous vote “expressed approval in concept” to a pair of alternative pathways designed for law students and postgraduates seeking admittance to the state bar

Washington Lawmakers Kick off Mostly Remote Session

Lawmakers in Washington state have started a new legislative session amid the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and much of their work will be done remotely 

NEWS BRIEFS

Shabbat Service Honors Martin Luther King Jr.

Congregation Beth Israel's Shabbat Service will be online Friday, Jan.14, at 6 p.m. to honor Dr. King’s work and legacy. ...

MLK Virtual Youth Summit Offers Resources for Portland’s Young African Americans 

With the ongoing rise in youth violence in our community, Highland Christian Center aims to take practical steps to reach our youth...

Underground Railroad Topic of Genealogy ZOOM Presentation

The public is invited to join the Genealogical Forum of Oregon’s African American Special Interest group Saturday, Jan, 15, from...

Recycled Arts Festival Accepting Applications for Artists, Vendors, and Educational Booths

The annual festival is returning to Esther Short Park on June 25-26. ...

Nominations Sought for Oregon Urban Forestry Awards Program

Nominations are being sought for individuals, communities and organizations in the state who demonstrate outstanding accomplishments...

Double dealing: Legal, illicit blur in California pot market

LOS ANGELES (AP) — On an isolated farm, greenhouses stand in regimental order, sheltered by a fringe of trees. Inside are hundreds of head-high cannabis plants in precise rows, each rising from a pot nourished by coils of irrigation tubing. Lights powerful enough to turn night into day blaze...

6 people shot outside Oregon concert; suspect not in custody

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Police in Oregon set up a tip line Saturday and asked for witnesses to come forward with any information about a shooting that injured six people outside a concert. Officers responded to the WOW Hall in Eugene after reports of a shooting near the venue's rear...

UNLV promotes interim AD Harper to full-time job

LAS VEGAS (AP) — UNLV has promoted interim athletic director Erick Harper to serve in the job full time. Harper's hiring, announced on Monday, was effective Jan. 1. He had served as interim athletic director since Desiree Reed-Francois left UNLV for Missouri in August. ...

Army stuns Missouri in Armed Forces Bowl on last-second FG

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Cole Talley kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired and Army rallied to beat Missouri 24-22 in the Armed Forces Bowl on Wednesday night. After the Tigers took a 22-21 lead on a touchdown with 1:11 to play, third-string quarterback Jabari Laws led Army...

OPINION

OP-ED: A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand

January 6th, Voting Rights and the Tyranny Threatening America ...

Support Nikole Hannah-Jones and The 1619 Project

This important and ambitious project pulled back the curtain of euphemistic rhetoric composing American historiography that points only to the good in our history and sweeps under the rug the evil deeds perpetrated against people of color ...

In 2021, Organized Labor is Again Flexing its Muscles

We have seen dramatic change in the makeup of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) under President Biden. ...

Study Reveals Racial Pay Gap for Social Media Influencers

The racial pay gap has long presented issues for African Americans in Corporate America and other industries. It’s now filtered to social media. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Fund to preserve, assist Black churches gets M donation

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A new effort to preserve historic Black churches in the United States has received a million donation that will go to help congregations including one that was slammed during the tornado that killed more than 20 people in Mayfield, Kentucky, last month. ...

Celebrated Tuskegee Airman Charles McGee dies at 102

WASHINGTON (AP) — Charles McGee, a Tuskegee Airman who flew 409 fighter combat missions over three wars and later helped to bring attention to the Black pilots who had battled racism at home to fight for freedom abroad, died Sunday. He was 102. McGee died in his sleep at his home in...

Iowa coach disbands diversity group created after 2020 probe

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz has disbanded an alumni advisory committee that was created after a 2020 investigation found evidence of racial bias against Black players in his program and bullying behavior by some of his assistants. The Gazette reports ...

ENTERTAINMENT

Los Angeles police investigate Ye after battery complaint

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Police are investigating after a battery report was filed Thursday against Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West. The incident that spurred the complaint took place in downtown Los Angeles at about 3 a.m. Thursday, LAPD spokeswoman Redina Puentes said. No...

Elvis Costello rocks out from the back porch

NEW YORK (AP) — Elvis Costello's 32nd album rings with the sound of a tight rock ‘n’ roll combo sweating together on a tiny stage, feeding off each other to produce a joyful noise. Yet that's all a mirage. Costello and his three-piece band, the Imposters, were...

Review: Jamestown Revival, more than just a roadhouse band

Jamestown Revival, “Young Man" (Thirty Tigers) The list of really good Americana roadhouse bands that have emerged from the Texas music scene over the years is a long one. The list of those that distinguished themselves by doing something fresh and original, not so much. ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Djokovic leaves Australia but debate goes on in vaccine saga

Australia sent Novak Djokovic home, but opinion remains divided worldwide on the No. 1 men's tennis player and...

The Latest at the Australian Open: 2021 champ Osaka wins

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Latest on Monday from the Australian Open at Melbourne Park (all times local): ...

Atlanta church service will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.

ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta’s mayor, Georgia’s governor and U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock are scheduled to attend the...

Ex-leader Poroshenko to go to Ukraine to face charges

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says he is returning to Ukraine to fight...

Jeff Goldblum, Kyle MacLachlan bookend Prada menswear show

MILAN (AP) — Jeff Goldblum infused Milan Fashion Week with some levity on Sunday as he shimmied down the Prada...

Mali's ex-President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita dies at 76

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the former president of Mali who took office in a landmark election...

Vickie Cheng New America Media

SAN FRANCISCO – Elsa Eder stands in her lab coat, preparing to inject genes from one cell into another. Biotechnology isn't something the 40-year-old former journalist ever expected to be studying, but when she lost her job with a local media outlet at the height of the Great Recession she was suddenly forced to make a dramatic career change.

She eventually came across City College of San Francisco's Bridge to Biotech program, which works to expand access for the city's low-income and minority residents to this rapidly growing sector.

"I noticed the Bridge to Biotech course on [CCSF's] website a couple of times, but never had the courage to try," says Eder, who is Filipino American. She holds a bachelor's degree in international studies and psychology, as well as a master's degree in communications.

With no background in science, she credits the program's counselors for helping her get past her own reservations about being qualified. "They were very supportive … [and] explained to me what the course was about in detail, semester by semester," she said.

CCSF's Bridge to Biotech program began 10 years ago, one of the first such programs in the country. It aims to give people like Eder a chance to break into one of the Bay Area's – and the nation's – fastest growing industries. There are more than 250,000 California residents employed in the biotech field. The San Francisco Bay Area represents the largest cluster of such jobs, with close to 900 companies employing 30 percent of the state's biomedical workforce.

A lot of those jobs are in manufacturing according to Travis Blaschek-Miller with the San Francisco-based industry trade group Bay Bio. Unlike other industries that have outsourced entry-level work overseas, he notes, the Bay Area remains a "strong corridor" for this kind of work.

A fact sheet released by the group shows that the industry weathered the recession, with overall job growth contracting by only 0.2 percent. With the local economy again picking up steam, experts anticipate an increase in employment opportunities.

But for low-income and minority communities, access to these positions remains low. Program counselor Li Miao Lovett says part of the reason has to do with a basic ignorance about what biotech is. "Unlike in nursing or radiology [two other popular programs at CCSF], people don't see the role of biotech directly in the clinics."

Lovett also says there's a misplaced sense that biotech requires an extensive background in science, a concern that almost kept Eder from applying. "You don't need any science background," insists Lovett, who says the program has been key to "bringing underrepresented minorities to the field of science."

Indeed, in 2012 Bay Bio honored the program with a Biotechnology Educator award for its work with these communities. But with less than a year before CCSF's accreditation expires, the future of the program is in doubt.

The Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges ruled last month that it would revoke CCSF's accreditation in July 2014 for failing to meet a set of recommendations made by the commission a year earlier. School officials are appealing the decision.

In the meantime, faculty and students are contending with the fallout.

"They've come since day one," says Lovett, referring to the steady stream of students that have been in and out of her office since the accreditation crisis first erupted. With a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the school, students are eager for advice on everything from financial help to transfer options.

Lovett says such concerns reflect the reality of students in the program, most of whom can't afford the alternatives. "A lot of them are priced out of the private universities," she notes, "while public education [including California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) schools] is growing less affordable."

In-state students pay $46 per unit at City College, far below the $3,000 price tag for a full semester at San Francisco State University and the $271 per-unit cost at a UC school.

Eder received a biotech scholarship, which helped her cover tuition and basic living expenses. But there were other challenges. Midway through her first year, her father passed away, causing her to miss several weeks of class. If it weren't for the support of classmates and teachers, she says she wouldn't have stayed with the program.

"They were supportive. That doesn't mean they lowered their standards, but they did give me the flexibility I needed at the time," she said. "It's something I'll always remember."

There are eight core instructors in the Bridge program and a number of part-time faculty. Most come straight out of big pharmaceutical and biotech companies, bringing with them years of experience and expertise. Eder says teachers often share tips on job interviews and other work-related advice.

She chose science because of her concern for the environment, she says, and because she wanted a challenge. "I thought to myself, 'I still have about 35 years of healthy brain activity,'" she says jokingly. "I wanted to really learn something."

Within a year Eder completed 15 of the required 21 units for the program's lab assistant certificate. She says that while much of her time was spent in the lab, her classes covered everything from research methods to resume writing. During her second semester, she took an internship with a consultancy group that focuses on food safety, and says the experience convinced her to continue her education past the program.

"Food is everything," she says enthusiastically, adding that when she's done with the Bridge program she plans to pursue a certificate in environmental monitoring, which could open the door to a career in biofuels and other food-related research.

Eder says it would be a "tragedy" if the program disappeared. She recently joined the Save City College campaign, which is working to boost enrollment as applications have fallen in the wake of the accreditation crisis. With much of the funding for City College and other community colleges enrollment based, any decline in the student body spells financial trouble for the school, even as it makes cuts to meet commission recommendations.

As for her own future, Eder is more optimistic.

"I hope to do something good for the world," she says. "I know it sounds idealistic and maybe a little pretentious, but who knows." She adds, "The Bridge program gave me this opportunity."

Additional reporting by Peter Schurmann

The Skanner Foundation's Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast

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