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Mutual Responsibility

According to a review of 160 socially responsible mutual funds, 72.6 percent of socially responsible large-cap funds outperformed their S&P 500 competitors in 2009. The performance data was analyzed by the Social Investment Forum (SIF) and was provided by an independent third party. Mutual funds promoted through SIF must meet environmental, social, and corporate governance criteria. “This analysis underscores the reality that socially responsible investments offer what are generally competitive returns,” said SIF board chair Cheryl Smith.

$2.71 trillion
Amount of the U.S. investment marketplace dedicated to socially responsible investing (SRI)—nearly one of every nine dollars in the U.S. investment marketplace today.
65%
Percentage of SRI mutual funds that outperformed their projected benchmarks in 2009.
540%
Growth over the past decade of community investing—the fastest growing area of SRI—a rise from $4 billion to $25.8 billion in assets.
44
Number of certified Native Community Development Financing Institutions focusing exclusively on Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native populations in the United States.
Source: “Mutual Fund Performance Chart, 2009” (Social Investment Forum).

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Sojourners Magazine April 2010
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The State of Journalism

“The problem facing American journalism is not fundamentally an audience problem or a credibility problem,” according to the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism. “It is a revenue problem.” Quality journalism is an essential public service and has always been subsidized. But with newspaper ad revenues plummeting 23 percent in the last two years, the ad-subsidy model no longer works. Online news Web traffic, on the other hand, has jumped 19 percent in the last two years. “Freedom of the press” from government censorship means little without preservation of the fourth estate.

13.5%
Decrease in weekday newspaper circulation in the United States since 2001.
27%
Increase in traffic for the top 50 news Web sites in 2008. The top four sites—Yahoo, MSNBC.com, CNN.com, and AOL—had an increase of 22 percent in unique visitors per month.
5,900
Number of newsroom jobs that were cut in 2008. By the end of 2009, American newsrooms were estimated to employ just 75 percent of the staff they had in 2001.
16%
Decline in newspaper ad revenue in 2008. Online ad sales also fell, amounting by the end of 2008 to less than 10 percent of revenue.
Source: “The State of the News Media: An Annual Report on American Journalism” (Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism, 2009).

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Sojourners Magazine March 2010
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Segregated Schools

Schools in the United States are becoming increasingly segregated based on students’ race and economic status, according to a study released by Gary Orfield of the Civil Rights Project. While some of these developments are due to population shifts caused by immigration trends, segregation is a historic, continual problem in the U.S. education system.

Within the next decade, white student enrollment will be less than 50 percent, while Latino enrollment will soar to more than 9.9 million students nationwide, an increase of 9 percent since 1988. Today, 44 percent of U.S. students are people of color.

31.5%
Percentage of students from low-income households among all white students enrolled in the U.S. public school system in 2006-07.

58.8%
Percentage of students from low-income households among all African-American students enrolled in the U.S. public school system in 2006-07.

0.4 million
Number of white students who attend schools where nine-tenths or more of the students are poor—just 1.5 percent.

15%
Percentage of people of color among teachers currently working in U.S. public schools.

Source: “Reviving the Goal of an Integrated Society: A 21st Century Challenge” (The Civil Rights Project, January 2009).

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Sojourners Magazine January 2010
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War on Drugs

THE PRICE OF cocaine in the U.S. has steadily decreased from 2004 through 2007 while purity has remained high, according to a study released in April by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). While the price of cocaine per pure gram has fluctuated in the past two decades, researchers are noting a severe and distinct decrease from $613 per gram in 1981 to $122 per gram in 2007, re-emphasizing “the importance of focusing greater attention on demand reduction and harm reduction, while deliberately lowering expectations for what supply-control strategies can achieve,” WOLA senior associate John Walsh said in a statement.

22%
The percentage by which the price of cocaine had decreased in 2007 from 1999. Cocaine’s average retail purity, however, has remained relatively steady since 1988.

500,000
The estimated number of people in U.S. prisons for drug offenses today—more than 10 times as many as in 1980.

13%
The percentage increase of potential worldwide cocaine production from 2000 to 2007.

76%
The percentage of voters in 2008 that considered the “war on drugs” to be “failing,” according to a Zogby/Inter-American Dialogue national survey.

Source: “Lowering Expectations” (Washing-ton Office on Latin America, April 2009).

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Sojourners Magazine September/October 2009
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Minority Reports

Last November’s election was the most racially and ethnically diverse in U.S. history, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. Young African-American voters had the high-est turnout rate—58.2 percent—of any racial or ethnic group ages 18 to 29, compared with 51 percent overall in that age group. African-American women had the highest participation rate among all voters at 69 percent.

65.3%
The overall percentage of African Americans who voted—an increase of 4.9 percent from 2004.

19.5 million
The number of Latinos eligible to vote in 2008—an increase of 21.4 percent from 2004.

49.9%
The 2008 voter turnout rate among Latinos—a 2.7 percent increase from 2004.

3.3 million
The number of Asian Americans who voted in 2008—or 47 percent of the Asian-American population.

65.7%
The percentage of women who voted in 2008, compared to 61.5 percent of men.

Source: “Dissecting the 2008 Electorate” (Pew Research Center, April 2009).

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Sojourners Magazine August 2009
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Global Death Penalty

The number of executions world-wide nearly doubled last year compared with 2007, according to a study released in March by Amnesty International. At the same time, Europe and Central Asia have become virtually death penalty-free zones, with only Belarus still maintaining capital punishment. The United States is the only country in the Americas that consistently executes, but the number of executions in 2008 was the lowest since 1995.

138: Countries in the world that have abolished the death penalty in law or practice—more than two-thirds.

9: Countries since 1990 that are known to have executed juveniles (those under 18 years old at the time of the crime), including China, Iran, and the U.S.

93%: The percentage of the world’s executions carried out by the five countries with the highest rate of executions: China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S.

72%: The percentage of the world’s executions carried out by China in 2008.

Source: “Death Sentences and Executions in 2008” (Amnesty International, March 2009).

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Sojourners Magazine July 2009
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D.C. Tests Positive

Three percent of all District of Columbia residents are living with HIV/AIDS, according to a report released in March by the District government. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers more than 1 percent to be an “epidemic.” The report also reveals that one-third to one-half of D.C. residents may not know their HIV/AIDS status. D.C. Lutheran Bishop Richard Graham responded to the new statistics with great sadness. “We have to remind ourselves that HIV/AIDS respects no boundaries, but especially targets poor people,” Graham told Sojourners. “We have to recommit ourselves to care for the poor. That’s one of our great callings.” Here are some of the D.C. numbers.

2,984. The number of D.C. residents per 100,000 over age 12 living with HIV/AIDS—about 3 percent of the population.

22 percent. The increase in HIV/AIDS cases in D.C. from 2006.

4.3 percent. African Americans in D.C. with HIV/AIDS. For Latinos, it’s 1.9 percent; for whites, it’s 1.4 percent.

6.5 percent. D.C.’s African-American men who are living with HIV/AIDS.

Source: “District of Columbia HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Update 2008.”

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Sojourners Magazine June 2009
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Sex and the Seminary

The Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing published a report in January that found U.S. seminaries and rabbinical schools were sorely lacking in sexuality training. “We are not preparing our clergy well enough to deal with the daily issues they will face as ministers,” Dr. Kate Ott, associate director of the Religious Institute, told Sojourners. “Sexual abuse and prevention policies, marriage counseling, teenage sexuality—all of these come up in the everyday work we do.” After surveying 36 institutions throughout the U.S., the study found that none completely met their criteria for a sexually healthy and responsible seminary.

- 3 percent
of religious institutions require a full-semester course on sexuality issues for religious professionals for graduation.

- 8 percent require a full-semester course on sexual abuse and domestic violence.

- More than 90 percent have sexual harassment policies for faculty, staff, and students.

- Two-thirds of the seminaries surveyed do not have a course in sexuality issues for religious professionals.

- Only one in six seminaries requires a sexual ethics course to graduate.

- Two-thirds of seminaries have fewer than 40 percent women on staff.

Sources: “Sex and the Seminary: Preparing Ministers for Sexual Health and Justice” (Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Healing, and Justice, January 2009).

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Sojourners Magazine April 2009
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The Giving Plate

In the wake of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depres­sion, tens of millions of Americans have suffered substantial financial losses, with many losing their savings, homes, and jobs. An estimated two out of every three families have been noticeably affected by the financial setbacks in the United States, and nearly one out of every four individuals surveyed say they have been impacted in a “major way,” according to a report from The Barna Group. Among those hardest hit are churches and nonprofit organizations, which stand to lose an estimated several billion dollars in donations.

  • 150 million. The number of adults who say they have been affected by the economic crisis, with 20 percent of U.S. households decreasing their overall giving to churches or other religious centers.
  • 31. Percentage of Americans who have lost 20 percent or more of their retirement fund value who have decreased their church donations.

  • 35. Percentage of church attendees surveyed who have seen their church address the financial crisis in some way, either through a program, sermon, or direct monetary assistance.
  • 31. Percentage of adults who have already reduced the amount of money they planned on donating to nonprofit organizations. Among these, 53 percent have simultaneously decreased the amount they give to their church.

Sources: “Churches Stand to Lose Several Billion Dollars in Lost Donations Due to Economic Downturn” (2008), The Barna Group; “Weathering an Uncertain Economy,” The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

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Sojourners Magazine March 2009
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A Broken System

For the first time in history, according to a recent study by the Pew Center on the States, more than one in every 100 adults in the U.S. is in jail or prison. There has not been, however, a correlating decrease in crime. “The education system, particularly for inner-city youth where the bulk of our prisoners come from, is abysmal,” Carol Fennelly, executive director of Hope House, a Washington, D.C.-based organization supporting prisoners’ families, told Sojourners. “We need real job opportunities and a reformed society in which people don’t end up in prison in the first place.” Here are some numbers:

  • 67 percent: People released from prison who are re-arrested within three years.
  • 32 percent: Increase in federal prisoners between 2000 and 2007, which coincides with the 454 new offenses added to the federal criminal code during that same period.
  • 7.4 million. Number of people under the control of the U.S. criminal justice system in 2007.
  • 83.5 percent: People in jail in 2002 who earned less than $2,000 per month prior to arrest.
  • 64 percent: Increase in criminal justice-related government spending between 1996 and 2005, reaching a height of $213 billion in 2005.

Sources: “Moving Target: A Decade of Resistance to the Prison Industrial Complex” (Justice Policy Institute, September 2008); “One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008” (The Pew Center on the States); The Washington Post.

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Sojourners Magazine February 2009
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