Some college students can't afford dorm room basics. These moms are stepping up to help.

College move-in week is an exciting time in parents' and students' lives — but it doesn't come cheap.

We've all heard about the rising cost of college tuition, and anyone who's purchased a college textbook knows how financially daunting higher education can be.

But there are other costs that often get lost in the discussion — things that many Americans may take for granted, but are a significant challenge for others. Dorm living requires some basics that some students struggle to afford. Considering the fact that the average family spends close to $1000 on college back-to-school items, kids who are coming from disadvantaged communities or are the first in their families to go to college may not be prepared for the cost of moving in to their dorm rooms.


The toll of student debt...

Posted by Grown and Flown on Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Some moms recognized that students who couldn't afford dorm essentials needed some help — so they took action.

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa Heffernan are the moms behind the website Grown and Flown — an online community for parents with kids ages 15 to 25. When one of their readers suggested raising funds for college students who could use some assistance with getting settled at school, the moms created an initiative now known as Move In Moms.

Harrington, an alumna of University of Texas at Austin, enlisted the help of businesses and other parents — in partnership with her alma mater — to raise funds for over 200 students in the UT Austin Foundation Scholars Program to get dorm supplies last year.

Each student received a dorm bundle, which included a laundry hamper, sheets, a pillow, a shower caddy, a surge protector, towels, a mattress pad, and a bed bug encasement. Harrington said that it was exciting to support students by offering them items "to feather their nest a little bit."

Target donated $10,000 for Move In Moms to purchase supplies for 250 hard-working college students.

The University of Texas has been on a mission to increase graduation rates, especially for students at risk of dropping out. Anything that eases the financial burden of these students makes a difference. Move In Moms is making move-in week less stressful for 250 students, many of whom are first generation college students working multiple jobs to pay for their education.

With a big corporate partner like Target in their court, hopefully Move In Moms will achieve their goal to spread to other universities. Surely plenty of parents facing their own empty nests would be happy to help other young people get a solid start in their college career.

Pretty much.

Posted by Grown and Flown on Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Unless or until college in the U.S. becomes more affordable, such programs are a necessity for many students.

As college costs rise higher education falls out of reach for many people. Even for those who receive scholarships or financial aid, additional expenses are sometimes unaffordable. Until we make some major changes on a broad level to make college less costly, communities helping communities will have to be the way we solve individual financial hardships.

If there's anyone we can count on to make sure kids are taken care of, it's moms. Keep up the awesome work, Move In Moms.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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