America Forward Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (2/23)

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.

Last Week in Washington 

Following weeks of negotiations and a bipartisan agreement on an overall amount for the Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations bills, each appropriations subcommittee received their spending allocations last week and have begun to determine funding levels for programs within its jurisdiction. On Friday, the Senate passed the Continuing Resolution to fund the government until March 12 (the House passed the measure last week).  

As Congress and the White House negotiate a final bill, there are calls for including supplemental funding for COVID Relief and disaster aid in the final agreement.  The Biden Administration has indicated it will request $30 billion in new spending for COVID related funding including $18 billion for medical countermeasures like antivirals and vaccines, $5 billion for testing, $3 billion to treat the uninsured and $4 billion to prepare for future variants. Additionally, Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) is calling for emergency disaster funding to respond to natural disasters that recently occurred in the South.   Senate Appropriations Chair, Patrick Leahy (D-VT), however, stated that he wasn’t interested in including any emergency funding in the omnibus package.  With the extension of the CR to mid March, talks about these requests and others will be ongoing.

March 2: America Forward 2022 Coalition Strategy Meeting 

On Wednesday, March 2 from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. EST, America Forward will lay out its 2022 priorities and opportunities for advocacy and capacity building within each of our work streams. This event is open to all America Forward Coalition organizations. If you are interested in engaging in this work and are not yet a member of the America Forward Coalition, please contact us at to learn more. 

KIPP Launches College Counseling Institute with 17 Districts

Next week, KIPP will kick off the College Counseling Institute (CCI) which will bring together a diverse cohort of 17 different districts to learn, develop, and reflect on postsecondary counseling practices. This year’s cohort of participating districts represents over 4,400 schools across all grade levels who impact 2.7 million students in their path to college, career and beyond. You can find more information about the CCI by visiting their website

Transcend and Fugees Family Partner

Since 2020, Transcend, an America Forward Coalition member, and Bellwether Education have partnered with Fugees Family, a nonprofit that advances educational justice for refugee and immigrant youth, on the Fugees Academies to codify and share their model with newcomer centers across the country. 

Fugees Family now operates schools in Atlanta and Columbus, OH and its model, centered around the unifying power of soccer, has resulted in a 92% graduation rate and 100% college acceptance rate for students. Responding to the needs of this community, Fugees schools operate year-round, keeping students engaged in closing the educational gap while allowing them opportunities that facilitate exploration, play, and building a strong sense of self while also training teachers to support refugee student needs. 

Google Announces $100 Million Job Training Fund with Year Up and Social Finance

As reported in the New York Times, Google this week announced a landmark new $100 million investment to expand effective skills training and job placement programs for low-income Americans in partnership with America Forward Coalition members Year Up and Social Finance; Merit America is also participating. The fund is intended to fuel total wage gains of $1 billion for 20,000 training program graduates. MDRC will also evaluate the performance of the programs over time.

Resource: LEGO Launches Build a World of Change Challenge Grant Opportunity Focused on Early Childhood

The LEGO Foundation has announced a $143 million global challenge to fund bold and impactful solutions focused on early childhood. The Build A World Of Play Challenge seeks evidence-based, innovative solutions to critical issues, such as access to quality early childhood education and care, adequate nutrition, eradication of toxic stress in homes and communities, reduction of violence in homes and communities, protection from pollution, and supporting the social and emotional well-being of the whole family. These solutions should make a substantial contribution to the lives of children from birth to six years old and spark a global movement to prioritize early childhood development. To learn more or apply click here.

Resource: U.S. Department of Education Announces Competitive Grants for State Assessments 

The U.S. Department of Education is releasing the 2022 notice inviting applications for the Competitive Grants for State Assessments program, a program designed to enhance the quality of state assessment systems to better reflect the needs and experiences of our nation’s students and communities. The program will allow for states to continue to use assessments to quantify the impacts the pandemic has had on our nation’s students, identify gaps which may have gotten worse, and explore ways to direct resources and funding to address those gaps and roadblocks to student achievement. The program will also allow the Department to identify, lift up, and help scale innovative approaches to assessments that advance teaching and learning that can better meet the needs of our evolving education system. For more information or to apply, click here.

Update: America’s School Mental Health Report Card

In the first of its kind, “America’s Schools Mental Health Report Card,” found that schools in all 50 states are struggling to meet the demands of a growing mental health crisis amongst our students. The report card analyzes state policies, resources, and practices to deliver key metrics and findings on students’ wellbeing and emotional health. You can read the report here

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