A Call to Action: Advocating for Critical Programs & Partnerships in the Federal Budget

By Sarah Groh

Across the nation, social innovation organizations are delivering results.

They know what it takes to support our most vulnerable learners, build lasting pipelines for today’s students to and through a post-secondary education, and help individuals currently out of the workforce into meaningful living wage employment.

The challenge is not finding evidence-based solutions to these and other pressing social problems our nation faces. The challenge is creating strong public-private partnerships and building the political will to scale the solutions that already exist.

From helping school districts build capacity to better support teachers, to providing critical wrap-around services to families, to creating real-world experiences for Americans to build the skills needed in today’s economy, innovative organizations like those that make up the America Forward Coalition are delivering results every day.

At America Forward, we have always advocated for bipartisan, outcomes-based policies that leverage evidence to scale solutions to our most intractable social challenges. As federal policymakers debate programmatic funding for the upcoming federal fiscal year, many factors will be taken into consideration. The America Forward Coalition strongly believes that if policymakers are serious about being outcomes-based in how they make funding decisions – the conversation must start with the impact on the communities’ programs serve. We do not believe that government has all of the answers – but we believe that by working across sectors and scaling public-private partnerships breakthrough results can be delivered to our communities.

Uncertainty about the fate of the federal budget could jeopardize some of the most effective social impact programs in the country, negatively impacting many of Americans.

The impact of reducing or eliminating funding for impactful social programs must not be left to rhetoric alone. It requires facts and real-world narratives from those organizations effectively serving communities throughout the country and helping Americans lead successful and productive lives. Below our Coalition organizations highlight the importance of funding effective federal programs:

If the Department of Labor is cut by 21 percent (as proposed in the Administration’s budget), it would mean a 35 percent across-the-board cut to [the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act] WIOA, which would drastically affect our ability to provide job training, internships and pathways to employment to Opportunity Youth at our 18 sites across the country.” – Year Up

If Title II funding [from the Every Student Succeeds Act] is cut, that will limit our capacity to offer professional development opportunities to our college professors at the Bard High School Early Colleges and to provide training for them, including training required for their teacher certification. The Bard High School Early Colleges are Bard College’s dual degree campuses where students can earn a high school diploma and an Associate’s degree free of charge.” – Bard Early Colleges

If [ESSA] 21st Century Program funding is cut – BELL’s afterschool and summer learning work in our hometown of Boston will be reduced.”- BELL

If funding for AmeriCorps were totally eliminated, Teach For America could lose more than $4 million per year in operating funds and more than $40 million per year in Education Awards for a corps of 6,900 individuals.” – Teach for America

 If SEED [Supporting Effective Educator Development] funding is cut, thousands of teachers — many in Title I schools — in 11 states, will lose funding being used to support their pursuit of National Board Certification. This will have a direct negative impact on teaching and learning for at least 100,000 students.” – National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

 If Americorps is defunded, we will need to abandon an innovative new early childhood teacher residency program partnership with Relay Graduate School in the District of Columbia.” – AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation

 If Federal Work Study funding is cut, the majority of Jumpstart’s 3,700 student volunteers would no longer be able to afford to participate in Jumpstart, a transformative experience in which college students gain invaluable workforce and leadership skills.” Jumpstart

“Cuts to Title II, Part A formula funds would be extremely challenging for our schools. Ninety-four percent of school districts receive [these] funds, and dedicated principals, teacher leaders, and other school leaders across the country rely on [this funding] for professional development and other investments critical to delivering high-quality instruction to every student in every classroom, every year. Moreover, Congress has taken steps to strengthen Title II, Part A through the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act. States and districts are actively planning to use these dollars to bolster their human capital strategies, and there is momentum at the local level to do things better and smarter in order to accelerate student achievement–including using a new 3 percent set-aside to invest in evidence-based strategies to bolster school leadership.”New Leaders

“If AmeriCorps is defunded, over 7,700 low-income and first-generation college students in Texas would lose critical college support and coaching services from the 100 Corps members currently serving in our programs.” College Forward

America Forward recognizes the many difficult funding decisions Congress has to make. It is for this reason, we urge policymakers to continue funding for effective social innovation programs, such as those leveraged by the America Forward Coalition that reduce poverty and increase economic opportunity for individuals and communities throughout the country. These programs are models of effective federal policymaking and illustrate what impact is possible when policies reward results, incentivize innovation and catalyze government and private sector partnership.

Sarah Groh is a Manager at America Forward.

America Forward is a network of more than 70 social innovation organizations that champion innovative, effective, and efficient solutions to our country’s most pressing social problems. Our Coalition members are achieving measurable outcomes in more than 14,500 communities nationwide, touching the lives of 8 million Americans each year, and driving progress in education, workforce development, early learning, poverty alleviation, public health, pay for success, social innovation, national service, and criminal justice reform.  Together, we have leveraged $1.5 billion for social innovation and have driven millions of federal resources toward programs that are achieving measurable results for those who need them most. America Forward believes that our nation’s social innovators can lead the way to unlock America’s potential — and help move all of America forward.

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