America Forward Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (12/21)

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 in Washington, congressional leaders continued their negotiations on an omnibus funding bill for the federal government and a COVID-19 relief package. Lawmakers reached agreement on a deal over the weekend, and a vote is expected in the House of Representatives today, to be followed by a vote in the Senate. The $900 billion stimulus deal is expected to include funds for education, broadband extension, child care providers, unemployment and rental assistance, and an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). We will provide you with information on what is included in the final package when it becomes available.


Update: Per Scholas Announced as Winner of Macarthur’s $10 million “Lever for Change” Economic Opportunity Challenge

Last week, America Forward Coalition member Per Scholas was announced as the awardee of the $10 million “Lever for Change” Economic Opportunity Challenge, which was “designed to scale a game-changing solution to improve the economic health of low-income families in the U.S.” Congratulations to Per Scholas and to fellow America Forward Coalition member Family Independence Initiative, which was a finalist for the award. Read more about the challenge and the announcement here.


Resource: Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative launches new pilot grant in Adams County to explore Pay for Success in higher education

Earlier this month, the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI), in partnership with America Forward Coalition member Third Sector, announced a new grant opportunity within its Community Partnership Program. The new grant will provide up to $300,000 over two years to improve retention and completion outcomes for underrepresented students by providing wraparound student support services intended to re-engage Adams County adults who have not yet completed a college degree.

The grant is structured as a Pay for Success project that includes upfront funding and bonus payments tied to success. It will serve as a pilot for future expansion opportunities across the state and in other communities, and seeks to contribute to erasing equity gaps between the current attainment level for students of color and the statewide attainment goal.

If you are interested in applying, applications are due Jan. 10, 2021. For more information visit the COSI website or send your questions to Recordings of a previously held webinar and responses to the Q & A period can be found here.


Resource: How the Biden Administration Can Supercharge Results by Using Evidence

Evidence-based and outcomes-oriented solutions are needed now more than ever, as leaders across the country work to recover and rebuild from the pandemic. This piece from Government Executive, co-authored by our partner Results for America, details the ways in which the Biden Administration can support these critical solutions once in office: “As we look to a new presidential administration, we should be grateful to all those who helped make progress on the evidence agenda over the past four years. The big opportunity, however, lies ahead. The Biden administration has the chance to significantly expand the role for evidence-based decision making, turning pockets of strong evidence use into a government that has a much stronger culture of learning and continuous improvement. That would not only improve the lives of millions of Americans but also, as we have learned in the past year, potentially save countless lives as well.” Read the full article here.


Resource: Managing Emotions in Times of Uncertainty & Stress

New Profit grantee-partner Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence is hosting a free online course, “Managing Emotions in Times of Uncertainty and Stress,” which “will provide participants with the knowledge, skills, and strategies to understand and manage their emotions and those of their students. The 10-hour online course is designed for school staff, including teachers, paraprofessionals, counselors, principals, and non-teaching staff in preK-12 schools.” More information and registration details can be found here.


From the America Forward Coalition

Opinion: A Covid-19 Remote Learning Paradox: How Two Schools Are Enabling Even More Personalized Learning From A Distance

Phyllis Lockett, founder and CEO of LEAP Innovations, writes about the challenges and opportunities related to remote learning, in this piece from Forbes: “The good news, though, is that we’re seeing bright spots that illuminate the effectiveness of personalized learning, particularly at this point in time. As I speak to educators served by my organization across Chicago and beyond, I hear time and again that the schools focused on personalized learning have a tremendous advantage in this era of remote instruction. Students steeped in personalized learning are agile, digitally fluent and in command of their own learning—the very skills that are proving essential to succeed today. While still tremendously taxing, teaching also is more productive, since the personalized-learning approach fosters a collaborative problem-solving culture.” Read Phyllis’s full piece here.

Opinion: Want to help teachers? Get them the vaccine

Evan Stone and Sydney Morris, co-CEOs of Educators for Excellence, make the case for prioritizing educator access to the COVID-19 vaccine, in this piece from New York Daily News: “Like doctors and nurses, teachers are caregivers. They look after more than 55 million school-aged children every day — helping them learn and keeping them safe. And as parents everywhere know all too well by now, schools play a critical role in a functioning society. When more teachers are protected against COVID-19, more schools can reopen, more students can attend in person, and more parents can go back to work. Vaccinating teachers may be one of the most important steps we can take for our children, our families and our economy.” Read their full article here.

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