AF Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (8/31)

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.

Update: COVID-19 Relief Legislation

In regards to any action in Washington on federal legislation (particularly on COVID-related bills), Congress made little progress. Congressional leaders and White House officials met last week, but no breakthroughs were reported. The parties have wide disagreements over the amount of funding for unemployment benefits and help for state and local governments struggling to meet needs and balance budgets amid the pandemic. As you may recall, the House Democrats passed a $3.4 trillion relief package in May, including funding for states, unemployment benefits, schools, food stamps, rental assistance and the Postal Service. Late last month, Senate Republicans offered a $1.1 trillion counter-proposal, focused largely on help for small businesses, the unemployed, schools, and direct payments to individuals. Yet the Senate measure was opposed not only by Democrats, but also by a number of conservative Republicans wary of soaring deficit spending.

The White House lead negotiators (Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin) have pressed for an even smaller bill that might attract the support of conservative critics. Democrats, however, have largely stood their ground, arguing that the dual crises of public health and the economy demand another massive infusion of federal spending to alleviate the devastation.

With most members of Congress in their home states and/or districts during this August work period, Congress is expected to act sometime later in September on a fourth COVID-related relief package, and a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the Federal government for the next fiscal year.

Update: Education and Workforce Development Policies in the Democratic Party Platform

The Democratic Party Platform, formally adopted at the Democratic National Convention two weeks ago, includes several education and workforce development-related policy proposals, several of which align with the priorities of the America Forward Coalition. Our recent blog post examines these areas of alignment in a side-by-side comparison.

We will share a similar analysis on the RNC as it becomes available.

Resources: Civic Engagement and Voter Registration

In light of two important upcoming dates – National Poll Worker Recruitment Day (Sept. 1) and National Voter Registration Day (Sept. 22nd) – we wanted to provide you with non-partisan resources to support your civic engagement and voter registration efforts.

1) TurboVote by Democracy Works is a non-partisan, mobile-friendly website that provides: voter registration assistance, vote-by-mail request assistance, location-specific election reminders and notifications, and a fully staffed help desk to answer user questions about voting. The TurboVote sign-up process makes the registration and ballot request process simple and straightforward and meets many voters where they are–online.

If you are interested in TurboVote

  1. Option 1: You can share this link with your teams and constituents to sign up on TurboVote
  2. Option 2: For a formal partnership as an organization, in order to access the suite of customized services designed for your organizational needs, please contact

2) Power the Polls: More than half of all people who generally serve as poll workers are over the age of 60. Many of them don’t feel comfortable serving this year because of the pandemic. Power the Polls is a nonpartisan organization bringing together nonprofits and businesses like New Profit’s Civic Lab portfolio organization Alliance for Youth Organizing, Civic Alliance, Comedy Central, Fair Elections Center, and MTV in a coalition to promote civic engagement.

There are many ways to assist, including simply helping to spread the word. Between now and Election Day, Power the Polls partners will be doing the following:

  • Promoting the need for poll workers to their supporters, constituents, or customers
  • Giving employees time off on Election Day to serve
  • Providing PPE to election offices
  • Celebrating service by offering incentives to poll workers, much like businesses will sometimes reward people who wear “I Voted” stickers on Election Day

Note: Power the Polls is working with election administration officials to ensure that they have sufficient PPE for poll workers who sign up to help keep our elections efficient, fair, and safe.

If you are interested in partnering with Power the Polls

  1. Option 1: Share this link with your teams and constituents to sign up as individuals
  2. Option 2: For a formal partnership as an organization, please fill out this partner sign-on form. Once you sign up, they will follow up with a unique source code that can be used to track organizational sign ups and send over the partner toolkit with sample social media messaging and other content. For any questions or more information, please contact

We hope these are timely and accessible resources you can leverage. If you have any questions about what your organization is able to do as a 501(c)(3) or would like to think about ways your organization can engage in policy and advocacy, contact America Forward at

Advancing Whole-Learner Education

Opinion: In what promises to be another atypical year, remember education is more than academics

Kate Powers, a member of the East Lansing Public Schools Board of Education, makes the case for a transition to whole-learner frameworks as schools across the country prepare for a return to learning, in this piece from the Lansing State Journal: “As we know, development throughout our life isn’t static, its dynamic. It happens by nurturing our minds and bodies holistically to cultivate social, emotional, creative, cognitive and physical skills. This is especially true when it comes to how students learn and grow — commonly thought of as a whole-learner approach to education and development.” Read Kate’s full piece here.

Opinion: Children of all ages deserve an education system that works for them

Lucinda Burns, Executive Director of Early Childhood Options, advocates for the development of whole-learner approaches to education, to more fully support students of every age, in this piece from the Colorado Sun: “We have an opportunity to foster a more complete, well-rounded learning experience by ensuring that we support the development of social, emotional, creative, cognitive and physical skills of students at every age. Focusing on this integrated, spectrum of skills represents a whole-learner approach to education. It recognizes the need to engage students in a way that meets them where they are on their learning journey, and challenges them to continue growing by tapping the core areas involved in learning.” Read Lucinda’s full piece here.

Opinion: Now is the time to energize our education system

Crystal Loose, an assistant professor of Education at West Chester University and Founder of Plant the Seed of Learning, writes about the opportunity to rebuild education systems with a focus on whole-learner approaches, to best account for the ways in which students learn and to meet the needs of each student, in this piece from the Daily Local News: “We have the opportunity to ponder and create learning environments that allow children to develop a diverse range of skills that they need to thrive, both in school and in life. By prioritizing the interconnected cognitive, physical, social, creative, and emotional skill development, we can foster more comprehensive learning environments for students at every age. This concept, referred to as ‘whole learner,’ is grounded in the notion that learning doesn’t happen in neatly defined silos but rather across a broad range of environments… By encouraging this interconnected approach to learning, students are able to develop academic skills like language, while simultaneously growing other critical areas that are vital for future success –communication skills, creative problem solving, and managing and expressing emotions.” Read Crystal’s full piece here.

From the America Forward Coalition

National Center for Learning Disabilities: The Everyday Champion Award

NCLD is currently running an award competition, accepting nominations to present an educator, administrator, and parent or caregiver with the Everyday Champion Award, which recognizes outstanding achievements in remote learning during the 2020 pandemic. The award will be presented at their Annual Virtual Benefit in December; and, as part of the award, each winner will receive $5,000.

The nomination process is open, and NCLD will accept nominations until Sept. 18th. For more information, you can visit NCLD’s webpage here.

Opinion: Stay Close to People Who Feel Like Sunlight

Turnaround for Children board member Dr. Sheila Ohlsson Walker explains the emotional and physical importance of high-quality relationships, and their neurological benefits, in this piece from Psychology Today: “The Harvard Study of Adult Development provides convincing evidence for the power of emotion contagion, the neurobiological ‘upward spiral’ that surges into our brains and bodies when we are engaged in authentic relationships with people whose presence feels like sunlight.” Read Dr. Ohlsson Walker’s full piece here.

Letter to the Editor: Affordable Housing, HUD and Local Zoning

Enterprise CEO, Priscilla Almodovar, responded to a recent op-ed co-authored by President Donald Trump and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson in The Wall Street Journal (“We’ll Protect America’s Suburbs,” August 16) with this letter to the editor: “An integrated suburb—one where an affordable home anchors every family and where neighborhoods reflect the diversity of America—isn’t a ‘dystopian vision.’ To the contrary, there is abundant evidence that people of all backgrounds and income levels do better in school and in life when they live in diverse, mixed-income communities. Our country’s success depends on creating a society where outcomes and dignity aren’t dictated by a ZIP Code. Investing in affordable homes that enable that diversity is the only way to get there.”

Previous Article AF Coalition Members Step up During Crisis (Vol. 18) August 31, 2020 < Next Article Critical Time to Advocate for Key Priorities August 31, 2020 >

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