AF Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (8/3)

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.

Letter: Support for College in High School Programs

Last week, America Forward was proud to sign onto a letter from the College in High School Alliance, urging lawmakers to “take all available action to maintain or increase funding for college in high school programs, particularly with a focus on low income and underrepresented students, rather than subjecting these evidence- based programs that propel students to success in college and career to cuts.”

College in high school programs, like dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment, and early college, are critical to improving access to higher education, and professional and economic mobility, and are more important now than ever throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

Read the full letter here.

Letter: Undocumented Workers and Mixed-Status Families in Future COVID-19 Relief Efforts

Last week, America Forward, along with 14 members of the America Forward Coalition, was pleased to sign on to a letter led by Coalition organization Aliento urging Congress to include undocumented workers and their family members in the next COVID-19 relief package.

Read the full letter here.

Update: COVID-19 Federal Legislation

Last Monday, July 27, Senate Republicans released the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act, a series of bills that embody the latest COVID-19 relief package. The $1 trillion package was developed by the Senate Republican leadership and the White House.

As you may recall, the House of Representatives (which is controlled by the Democrats) passed their Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES) in May which laid out approximately $3 trillion in funding to address COVID-19 response and recovery needs. Leaders on both sides recognize that there are a number of differences between the bills which has slowed down negotiations which began this week, but little progress was made.

Examples of key differences between the two packages:


  • Republican plan: Includes $70 billion for helping schools to reopen and $30 billion for colleges and universities.
  • Democratic plan: $100 billion to support the educational needs of states, school districts and institutions of higher education in response to coronavirus.


  • Republican plan: Would allow the hardest-hit smallest employers, whose revenue has declined by 50% or more, to get a second forgivable loan under the program. To qualify, businesses must have 300 or fewer employees.
  • Democratic plan: Gives small businesses more flexibility with how they use loans from this program (previously they were required to use 75% for payroll expenses, or be forced to pay it back as a loan)


  • Republican plan: Would reduce the expanded unemployment benefit from the current $600 per week, which expires on Friday, to $200 a week, in addition to state unemployment benefits, and extend the program for two more months. After that, states are to pay employees about 70% of the income they had before they lost their jobs.
  • Democratic plan: Extends weekly enhanced unemployment payments of $600 through January 2021.


  • Republican plan: Includes $1,200 per individual; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised “even more support for families who care for vulnerable adult dependents.
  • Democratic plan: $1,200 per family member, up to $6,000 per household.


  • Democratic plan: Nearly $1 trillion in aid to state, local, territorial and tribal governments to help pay first responders, healthcare workers and teachers.
  • Republican plan: Does not include new money, but Republicans said it would give state and local leaders more flexibility in spending the $150 billion passed into law in March.


  • Republican plan: Includes as one of its core proposals measures to protect businesses and institutions from coronavirus-related lawsuits if they are following government guidelines.
  • Democratic plan: did not include anything on this and Democratic leaders have pushed back against the idea.

Update: DACA Review and Renewal

Early last week, the Trump Administration announced that it would undertake a review of the DACA program to “ensure that the legal justifications for rescinding DACA comply with the Administration Procedures Act,” according to reporting in the Hill. During the review, expected to take roughly 100 days, current DACA recipients whose protections are set to expire will be allowed to renew for 1 year, but the Administration will not accept new DACA applications. More detailed information can be found in this announcement from the Department of Homeland Security.

From the America Forward Coalition

Evaluation: Springboard Collaborative

A recent, external evaluation of Springboard Collaborative found that “Springboard Summer students show larger improvements in reading scores when compared to similar students who did not participate, suggesting that Springboard played a significant role in their gains.”

As schools grapple with the impacts of COVID-19 and summer learning loss and prepare for an uncertain fall, this evaluation offers key data to support Springboard’s approach to engaging children and families, especially as they continue to serve their communities virtually. Read more here.

Opinion: When We Do Our Homework and Put Resources in Place, Students Can Do Their Homework, Too

Zearn CEO Shalinee Sharma shares lessons and implications gleaned from Zearn’s digital math learning data, in this piece from Education Post: “While we don’t yet know if digital lessons alone outside of school will drive academic outcomes, we do know that equipping students and teachers with the resources to continue learning is a critical first step. Every parent supporting young children at home knows viscerally that some learning is better than no learning.” Read her full piece here.

Opinion: Amid COVID-19 pandemic, an education system reboot is needed

Springboard Collaborative CEO Alejandro Gibes de Gac addresses the need to restructure approaches to education and effectively engage parents and families in learning, as schools develop plans for an uncertain fall, in this piece from PennLive: “In order to educate the whole learner, we must wholly reinvent school. Let’s not build the digital clone of a system that wasn’t working in the first place. If we equip parents and teachers to work together, we can fundamentally change the education system for the better and for good.” Read his full piece here.

Opinion: What Does It Mean to Demilitarize Our Schools?

Educators for Excellence Executive Director Paula White unpacks militarization in schools, the need for demilitarization, and what it would look like, in this piece from Education Post: “A militarized, policing-oriented approach to school climate increases the chance our students will experience police misconduct and reinforces the school-to-prison pipeline. These are two key elements of institutionalized racism and White supremacy that deeply affect youth of color in our classrooms.” Read her full piece here.

Interview: YouthBuild USA CEO John Valverde On Navigating The Unknown

YouthBuild CEO John Valverde discusses the ways in which his experience in prison equipped him with the tools necessary to navigate uncertain times, in an interview with WGBH. Watch the full video here.

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