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America Forward Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (10/13)

Below is the latest America Forward “Tip Sheet,” a weekly update on Federal activity related to education, workforce development, and other priorities of the America Forward Coalition.

Last Week in Washington

After weeks of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, the chamber passed a debt ceiling increase last week, on October 7, by a vote of 61-38. The increase is set to hold the Department of Treasury over until December 3, which coincides with the day that the Continuing Resolution to fund the government expires. Negotiations are likely to continue through the fall to address these temporary measures.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) set a new goal for passing President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment Act by October 31. No deal has been struck between President Biden’s administration and Democratic Leadership, and Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who remain firm in their disapproval of a $3.5 trillion price tag for budget reconciliation.

Last Week at America Forward

New Profit Announces Call for Healthy Equity Cohort Applications

New Profit is excited to announce that we are now accepting applications for our 2022 Health Equity Cohort. Up to eight nonprofit organizations will receive a one-year $100,000 investment of unrestricted resources, in-kind capacity building support, and participate in a peer learning community through a collaboration between New Profit and Deloitte’s Health Equity Institute. Applications close November 1, 2021 at 5pm ET. To learn more and apply, please follow this link.

An informational webinar will be held at 4pm ET on Thursday, October 21. Click here to register.

New Profit Extends Deadline & Expands Eligibility Criteria for its Equitable Education Recovery Initiative (Now Due 10/20)

New Profit’s Equitable Education Recovery Initiative will invest $4.8M, providing $200K in unrestricted Catalyze grants to each of 24 organizations working across three geographies (i.e., Fresno/Oakland/Sacramento; Denver Metro; and Memphis/Nashville). New Profit is seeking leaders who are working to provide math/ELA tutoring, whole child supports, and/or postsecondary advising to K-12 students in their community. Each organization will also receive New Profit cohort-based capacity-building support and participation in a peer learning community over the course of three years. To learn more about eligibility and focus areas for this fund, see here.

If you are interested in joining the Equitable Education Recovery Initiative cohort, please fill out an application here by 5pm ET on October 20.

Resource: Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program Overhaul Fact Sheet

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program is an important—but largely unmet—promise to provide debt relief to support the teachers, nurses, firefighters, and others serving their communities through hard work that is essential to our country’s success. Last week, the Department of Education announced a set of actions that, over the coming months, will restore the promise of PSLF.

The Department will offer a time-limited waiver so that student borrowers can count payments from all federal loan programs or repayment plans toward forgiveness. This includes loan types and payment plans that were not previously eligible. They will pursue opportunities to automate PSLF eligibility, give borrowers a way to get errors corrected, and make it easier for members of the military to get credit toward forgiveness while they serve. Finally, they will pair these changes with an expanded communications campaign to make sure affected borrowers learn about these opportunities and encourage them to apply.

Update: AmeriCorps Announces Distribution of American Rescue Plan Funds

Last week, the AmeriCorps agency made announcements about the distribution of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds. In March 2021, Congress invested $1 billion to sustain and increase national service over 3 years. AmeriCorps announced that the agency will award a portion of the $620 million allocated to the AmeriCorps State and National program and the $30 million allocated to AmeriCorps Seniors. Additional funding announcements will be made later this year.

More than $265 million in American Rescue Plan funding for the AmeriCorps State and National programs has been distributed to state commissions and existing grantees:

  • Approximately $205 million was awarded to governor-appointed State Service Commissions to provide states additional flexibility and resources to increase living allowances, stabilize their state AmeriCorps programs, and expand AmeriCorps opportunities over the next four years.
  • An additional $60 million in American Rescue Plan funding was provided through an augmentation process to more than 230 existing AmeriCorps grantees. These organizations will use funds to implement increased living allowances and make service more accessible and inclusive in their communities.
  • Click this link to view a state-by-state breakdown of the ARP awards.

Update: U.S. Department of Education Approves State Plans for Use of American Rescue Plan (ARP) Funds to Support K-12 Schools and Students

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has now announced its approval of thirty-nine state plans for the use of ARP funds to support K-12 schools and students, including: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.

Additionally, ED announced the approval of Northern Mariana Islands Public School System’s implementation plan. A table tracking the status of the plans for each state that submitted them can be found here, and plans submitted under the Outlying Areas State Educational Agencies Fund can be found here.

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