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.
What’s New in Washington
Last Monday in Washington, the Senate confirmed Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as Secretary of Labor by a vote of 68-29. On Wednesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing for Cindy Marten’s nomination as Deputy Secretary of Education. You can watch a replay of the hearing here.
Also last week, the Department of Education hosted the National Safe School Reopening Summit, which featured the President, Vice President, First Lady Jill Biden, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, and others discussing best practices on safely reopening schools across the country. Ahead of the Summit, the Department announced the release of $81 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to states (about two-thirds of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding). Secretary Cardona also announced the Summer Learning & Enrichment Collaborative to assist states and school districts in planning how to use new funds, including the $1.2 billion earmarked for summer enrichment in the American Rescue Plan. This partnership with the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers is set to launch in April.
We will keep you informed as the Administration continues to roll-out funding and guidance on the American Rescue Plan.
Department of Labor Policy Brief
Last week, America Forward released a new policy paper jointly with New Profit’s Future of Work Initiative, with proposals and recommendations for new leadership at the Department of Labor (DOL) to advance workforce development systems alignment and innovation. We will share these recommendations with DOL leadership in the coming weeks. The paper aligns with our broader workforce development and Pay for Success policy platforms, and includes specific recommendations and ideas that DOL could move forward under the new Administration, incorporating feedback from a number of leading thinkers, doers and innovators focused on the Future of Work. Take a look, and please feel free to share these proposals with your networks!
Update: Treasury and Labor Departments Award Funding for the First Social Impact Partnership Project
Last week, the U.S. Treasury Department announced the first federal award under the Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act (SIPPRA) – a breakthrough $100 million federal outcomes fund that America Forward has championed for nearly a decade – to a project that our Coalition member, Social Finance, has worked to get off the ground, in partnership with the State of New York.
According to the announcement, Treasury will award $8.2 million to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to provide clean energy job training to unemployed and low-wage workers and opportunity youth. The vast majority of the funding – over $7 million – is conditional on an evaluation showing that the program increases participants’ wages.
We are proud of the work Social Finance and New York State have done to implement this transformative project, and we continue to advocate for the other SIPPRA finalist projects in other communities that have been waiting for news for over 18 months. We hope the Treasury Department and other federal agencies will follow up on this exciting announcement with additional SIPPRA announcements without further delay. We can and should continue to build back better by unlocking outcomes-based funding in other communities in the coming weeks.
We will continue to follow SIPPRA closely, and continue to keep our Coalition updated on progress.
Advancing Whole-Learner Education
The Hill Op-Ed: Expanding Social Emotional Learning is Key
Last Friday, March 26, 2021, was the second annual international Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Day. America Forward, along with a group of exceptional partners who put together last week’s Virtual Briefing: Social-Emotional Learning Policy to Foster Connection after Trauma, co-authored an op-ed in The Hill, focused on the critical importance of SEL to supporting students and educators in the recovery from COVID-19, and the responsibility that policymakers have to support SEL approaches.
“Although the last year has been challenging, the future offers educators, district and state leaders and policymakers an opportunity to reimagine our education system. Each stakeholder — at every level — has a responsibility to create the policy and instructional frameworks and devote the resources necessary to scale effective approaches that can deeply embed social and emotional learning in education systems across the country. If they do, it will play an outsize role in helping students and educators recover from this pandemic and will demonstrate a commitment to seizing this moment to meaningfully address historic gaps in opportunities, access and outcomes. If they don’t, we risk reverting to a “normal” that has become even more inequitable, neglects key elements of healthy learning and development, and leaves millions of students behind.”
Read their full piece here.
From the America Forward Coalition
Q&A: This unique mentorship program helps students with learning differences realize ‘their brains are beautiful’
This week, Eye to Eye’s David Flink was honored as a CNN Hero, and spoke to CNN about his experience growing up with ADHD and dyslexia, his work building Eye to Eye, and his advice for young people with learning differences. Read his full Q&A here and check out his CNN Heroes video here.
Opinion: Joe Biden Should Make National Service the Cornerstone of His Legacy. Here’s How He Can Achieve That
Service Year Alliance’s founding chairperson Stanley McChrystal advocates for bold, long-term investment in national service, in this piece from TIME: “The American Rescue Plan, which provides urgently needed relief to families across the country, includes $1 billion for national service. That is a significant step, but it isn’t enough to achieve a long-term recovery for our economy or our democracy. Right now, there are only 65,000 national service opportunities available to Americans. We need to change that. Every American who wants to serve should have the opportunity to do so.” Read Stanley’s full piece here.
Opinion: My COVID-19 Experiment With Multigenerational Living
Encore.org’s Marc Freedman details his experience living in close proximity to his in-laws during the COVID-19 crisis – and the lessons learned from multigenerational living – in this piece from Next Avenue: “We need to be creative in bringing older and younger people together through daily encounters and the discovery of shared interest — through proximity and purpose. Down deep, there’s self-interest running up and down the generational chain. We need each other. That was true before COVID-19, and it’s all the more evident today. As I now know, happily first-hand.” Read Marc’s full piece here.
Opinion: Teaching Students in Person and Online at the Same Time Is a Huge Challenge. 4 Ways to Bridge the Home-Classroom Gap
The Learning Accelerator’s Beth Rabbitt, Ed.L.D. shares four ways to make hybrid learning models more effective for both students and teachers, in this piece from The 74 Million: “Despite hard work and good intentions, full-time, simultaneous learning is not a best practice. Meta analysis finds online models are least effective when teachers are trying to engage learners from a distance while managing an in-person classroom in real time. Anecdotally, teachers say making this work well can be a challenge of epic proportions. To be clear, hybrid schooling does not need to default to a simultaneous approach.” Read Beth’s full piece here.
Opinion: To Dismantle Structural Racism, Having School Leaders Who Look like Me Matters
KIPP Foundation’s Freddy Gonzalez writes about the importance of representation in the classroom, in this piece from The 74 Million: “Moreover, we have a moral obligation to ensure students of color see people like me in front of their classrooms and leading schools. When students from historically marginalized communities see teachers and leaders who look like them, modeling what’s possible through a great education, they thrive. Research shows that students who are taught by teachers from similar backgrounds have better academic outcomes. Having a diverse faculty and leadership has been shown to make students feel happier and safer in schools, while decreasing incidences of harsh discipline that disproportionately affect students of color in a white-dominated school system.” Read Freddy’s full piece here.
Opinion: Students will graduate soon. We need to help them find a job during a pandemic
Braven Newark’s Vince Marigna and Rutgers University–Newark’s Nancy Cantor emphasize the need to support for students and young people as they search for jobs, especially during the pandemic, in this piece from NJ.com: “Universities and employers can partner to provide experiential career-learning opportunities for students to develop professional connections and practice competencies, including consulting projects where students help employers solve real-world problems, virtual internships and mock interviews. Not only will it help incredibly talented young people…build professional connections and…land strong jobs that will put them on the path to economic mobility, but it will also help us close the opportunity gap and wealth gap in our own backward.” Read their full piece here.
Opinion: How Schools Can Meet Students’ Academic and Emotional Needs at the Same Time
Transcend’s Jenee Henry Wood and Jeff Wetzler write about the importance of a “both/and” approach to addressing students’ academic and social-emotional needs, in this piece from EdSurge: “Over the past year, administrators and educators have been faced with no-win decisions on what matters more. Should the priority be tackling students’ academic needs or emotional trauma? Should districts implement universal supports (such as an extended school year or regular assessments) for everyone or should they customize those supports for each student (even if that takes more time and resources)?…What might be possible if we take a “both/and” approach to the complex, seemingly-opposed tensions we confront at every turn?” Read their full piece here.
Letter: Keep the Help for Children and Families
Enterprise Community Partners’ Priscilla Almodovar writes about the need for systemic solutions to address inequity and close opportunity gaps in the real estate industry, in this Letter to the Editor in The New York Times: “Access to capital is indeed the biggest hurdle facing housing developers of color. But the fuller solution to this problem — which is rooted in systemic racism — requires doing more than earmarking a finite amount of dollars.” Read Priscilla’s full letter here.
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