AF Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (10/19)

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 Next in Washington

Last week, the Senate and House of Representatives did not meet; however, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court. Negotiations continued between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on a COVID relief package; however, big differences remain between all parties, particularly over the size of and funding included in a package. At this point, many doubt that there will be an opportunity to get to a final agreement before the election.

Update: U.S. Department of Education Releases 2017-2018 Civil Rights Data Collection

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released the 2017-18 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). This data, which are self-reported by 17,604 public school districts and 97,632 public schools and educational programs, have been collected and published biennially by OCR since 1968. You can find more information and the full data set here.

Advancing Whole Learner Education

America Forward Awarded Major Grant from the LEGO Foundation to Support its “Advancing Whole-Learner Education” Initiative

Last week, America Forward announced a $3.9 million grant from the LEGO Foundation to support our “Advancing Whole Learner Education” initiative. Together with previous LEGO Foundation support for whole-learner work at America Forward, this grant represents a bold investment of $4.8 million toward advancing policies that support whole-learner education and foster the development of holistic skills.

Over the next three years, the new grant will support America Forward’s efforts to deepen public engagement and expand federal support for whole-learner approaches to education that support the development of the critical, interconnected skills that all learners need to thrive – both in school and in life. The “Advancing Whole-Learner Education” initiative will support advocacy efforts of America Forward Coalition organizations and partners focused on whole-learner practice, deep engagement with public policy decision-makers, and a public engagement campaign to increase public awareness and understanding of whole-learner approaches to education.

The current grant award follows a previous $860,000 investment in America Forward from the LEGO Foundation to support the development and release of America Forward’s report, Whole-Learner Education: A Policy Roadmap to Student Success and the accompanying website, which provide a detailed framework for evidence-based, whole-learner approaches to education that includes specific policy recommendations for federal policymakers. Since the release of the report in July, America Forward has been engaging its Coalition members and partners, advocating for whole-learner approaches, and working with elected leaders, educators, and experts in key battleground states on holistic approaches to education.

America Forward is incredibly proud to receive this grant, grateful for the LEGO Foundation’s support and partnership, and excited to continue our work to meet today’s unprecedented challenges by working to advance whole-learner approaches that are grounded in equity, that recognize the interconnected way social, emotional, cognitive, creative, and physical skills develop, and that provide safe and supportive environments and relationships, especially as our education systems and communities continue to recover, adapt, and rebuild in light of the COVID-19 crisis

From the America Forward Coalition

Molly Baldwin, Founder and CEO of Roca Receives 25th Heinz Award in the Human Condition Category

Last week, Molly Baldwin, Founder and CEO of Roca was awarded the 25th Heinz Award in the Human Condition Category: “Ms. Baldwin has led the development of a highly effective intervention program that provides relentless outreach to young people impacted by traumatic experiences at the center of urban violence. She is honored for Roca’s proven work in changing the lives of young people considered to be the hardest to reach, and for its focus on disrupting cycles of incarceration, urban violence and poverty in the lives of young adults—primarily young men of color between the ages of 18 and 24—who are not ready, willing or able to participate in other programs.”

The Heinz Awards were established by Teresa Heinz to honor the memory of her late husband, U.S. Senator John Heinz. Over the last 25 years, they have celebrated his “accomplishments and spirit by recognizing the extraordinary contributions of individuals in the areas of greatest importance to him.” Read more about the awards, Molly, and Roca here.

Year Up’s Jonathan Hasak appointed to the California State Rehabilitation Council

California Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced new appointments to the State Rehabilitation Council, including Jonathan Hasak, Senior Director of Scalable Solutions at America Forward Coalition member Year Up. Joining a 16-member council, Jonathan will help to evaluate and recommend laws that increase access to employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Roca in the News: Baltimore man says he’s ‘a young Black brother pushing for greatness’ with help from a local anti-violence group

Following their recently-released two-year report on Roca Baltimore, Roca and two of the young men they work with were featured in the Baltimore Sun: “Since March, seven young Baltimore men — all of them on a list to get help from a local anti-violence group — were killed before they got the assistance they needed. But workers from Roca were able to reach and help about 180 other young men in the past year, according to the group’s annual report released last Thursday. The report details Roca’s efforts to show the men how to begin healing from life’s traumas, help them learn ways to control their emotions, and then connect them with jobs that could keep them on track.” Read the full article here.

Roca Baltimore was established in 2018 as part of a four-year plan to focus on those young people who are at the center of the city’s violence, and work with them to develop the skills and provide the resources necessary to keep them — and their communities — safe. Roca’s recent report examines the last two years and details critical lessons learned:

  • “We have seen the Roca model’s effect on the young men that have been with us from day one. The intentional use of Roca’s cognitive-behavioral theory (CBT) has been a huge catalyst for change, with that change increasing as young men engage longer in the Intervention Model.”
  • “At the same time, Roca Baltimore has worked steadily with institutions which are consequential in the lives of our young men. Our progress has reached a level that we didn’t think would be possible this early on. As our collaborations and partnerships continue to improve, so too does our impact on the population we serve.”

KIPP Launches Alumni Network

This week, KIPP launched the National KIPP Alumni Network, a first-of-its-kind network for the 30,000+ KIPP alumni across the country. As the number of KIPP’s alumni continues to expand, this network aims to support them by offering access to a variety of programs, including career connections and advancement, regional alumni associations and national alumni council, mental health and wellness supports, entrepreneurship and creative tools, financial planning, leadership training, civic engagement opportunities, and more.

More information about KIPP’s National Alumni Network can be found on their website here; the program was also featured in this piece from The 74 Million.

Letter: Stop Persecuting Black and Brown Girls in School

Gisele Castro, executive director of Exalt, responds to New York Times article, Racism in the Principal’s Office: Seeking Justice for Black Girls, in this letter to the editor: “Thank you for shining a light on the unfair punishment meted out in the school system to young Black and brown girls, who have for generations been the target of neglect, surveillance and punitive discipline policies for being ‘loud’ or ‘threatening.’ Every day at the youth organization I run, we teach our students a survival skill: code switching. For them, changing how they present themselves to society — from body language to wardrobe to speech — can keep them alive, employed and free.” Read Gisele’s full letter here.

Opinion: Visualize Success: Start With Your Now to Create Your Future

Dr. Sheila Ohlsson Walker, Turnaround for Children Board Member, writes about the science behind visualizing your success in the moment in order to create it in the future, in this piece from Psychology Today: “Science tells us that by linking our current selves with our future selves, we begin the process of building neural pathways that, over time, help us live our way into the aspirations we envision. Olympic and Paralympic athletes, entrepreneurs of all kinds, and inspiring human beings across time tell us how to start with your now to create your future.” Read Dr. Walker’s full piece here.

Opinion: Leadership Transition During a Pandemic

Scott Warren, co-founder and outgoing CEO of Generation Citizen, offers advice for professional transitions during uncertain times, in this piece from Stanford Social Innovation Review: “In addition to the “prepare for the unexpected” lesson, three other bits of advice from my initial discussions with founders and new leaders (also covered in this series) stand out as particularly useful to transitioning during uncertain times.” Read Scott’s full piece here.

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