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 New in Washington
Over the weekend in Washington, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Rescue Plan Act (H.R. 1319), advancing President Biden’s American Rescue Plan to provide $1.9 trillion in funds for COVID-19 response and recovery. Included in the legislation are provisions passed by the House Education and Labor Committee to provide significant funding for education, child care, nutrition assistance, and national service among other things. America Forward strongly supports these provisions and led a Coalition effort to send a letter of support to House congressional leadership last week (see below for more information on this effort). The legislation now moves to the Senate.
Letter: America Forward Leads Letter of Support on House Education & Labor Reconciliation Bill
As students, families, educators, and school communities across the country work to respond to and recover from the convergent crises of the past year, evidence-based, holistic supports are more important than ever.
On February 10, 2021, the House Committee on Education and Labor passed a budget reconciliation bill that would enact key provisions of President Joe Biden’s “American Rescue Plan.” The legislation, which has now passed in the House, authorizes significant investment in key priorities and directs those resources towards programs and services that effectively support and empower all of our communities.
Last week, America Forward led a sign-on letter – joined by more than 30 organizations across the country – encouraging House leaders to support the Committee’s legislation and retain these proposals in a final House bill. America Forward now urges Senate leaders to do the same.
You can also read more about the legislation, as well as America Forward’s related legislative priorities, here.
Letter: America Forward joins Higher Learning Advocates in urging the Office of Management and Budget to take the lead role in coordinating benefits from the Omnibus Appropriations Bill
Last week, America Forward signed onto this letter from Higher Learning Advocates, urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to “ensure that the millions of postsecondary students who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic receive the aid that Congress approved in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.”
The letter reads: “OMB can do so by promoting efforts to improve coordination across federal agencies and ensure the expertise and competencies of agencies is not wasted by having agencies work at cross-purposes, as is the purpose of Executive Order 14002.”
The full letter can be read here.
Update: President Biden Announces Updated PPP Rules
Last Monday, President Biden and the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced significant changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). New PPP rules mandate a 14-day period of exclusivity, beginning last Wednesday, February 24th, during which only small businesses and nonprofit organizations with less than 20 employees may apply for PPP loans. Other changes include an increased emphasis on access for minority-owned businesses, elimination of restrictions on business owners with non-fraud-related felony convictions, elimination of restrictions on business owners who are delinquent on federal student loans, and clarification that Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers can be used in loan applications. A summary of the changes can be found on the SBA website, here. As always, be sure to reach out with any questions.
From the America Forward Coalition
Opinion: California must go all in for financial aid
uAspire’s Director of California Policy, Tyler Wu, co-authored this piece focused on the need to support students in applying for and receiving financial aid, in EdSource: “Unfortunately, in 2018-19 approximately $550 million in federal and state aid for California’s students was left on the table due to unsubmitted financial aid applications. Last year, only 54% of California’s graduating senior class completed a financial aid application. High schools that serve a majority of Black and Latinx students have even lower Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion rates. Research shows that the students who are most likely to benefit from financial aid are the least likely to complete the forms on their own.” Read the full piece here.
Opinion: We need national summer school to help kids recover from learning lost in COVID pandemic
KIPP NYC superintendent, Jim Manly, urges the Biden administration, including incoming Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, to support a national summer school program to address both the academic and social-emotional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our nation’s students, in this piece from USA Today: “Our most precious resource, our young children, are slipping behind after missing months of school. Nationally, attendance is down remotely and in person, and evidence of learning loss is mounting. We also know that our kids desperately need opportunities to be together again and practice social and emotional skills that engage the mind and the body. And we know that young people in college and recent graduates are struggling to find work. A national summer school program, one that puts college students and recent graduates to work and helps students from every walk of life to learn and heal, can put our country on the path to long-term recovery.” Read Jim’s full piece here.
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