America Forward Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (4/13)

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

In Washington last week, while Congress continued its Spring District Work Period, the White House released its Fiscal Year 2022 Discretionary Budget Request which lays out the Administration’s high-level funding requests for the upcoming fiscal year. See below for additional information.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it will be undertaking a review of the Department’s Title IX Regulations, and released Volume 2 of its COVID-19 Handbook. Information on both of these actions can also be found below.

America Forward Statement on President Biden’s FY2022 Discretionary Request

Last week, President Joe Biden released his Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Discretionary Budget Request – his “skinny budget”. The release did not include detailed agency-by-agency budget estimates, which will be sent out in the month of May, but the initial funding targets will allow the FY22 budget process to begin on Capitol Hill. Congressional appropriators will now start drafting the spending bills for the upcoming fiscal year starting Oct. 1, 2021. His Budget includes significant increases for programs that align with many of America Forward’s education and workforce priorities including our Education Preparedness Initiative. Please see our full statement below:

President Joe Biden’s FY2022 Discretionary Request, which provides Congress with a roadmap of the President’s discretionary budget recommendations, advances potentially transformative investments in our education and workforce systems.

Especially now, as communities across the country work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the priorities outlined by the President would provide critically-needed resources to expand and improve early learning; massively increase funding available to schools through Title I, IDEA, and other K-12 programs, along with an intentional focus on student mental health; support for institutes of higher education, specifically those that focus on communities of color (i.e., HBCUs, TCCUs, MSIs) and community colleges; provide the largest increase in Pell Grant awards in more than a decade; deepen support for national service; provide billions more for effective workforce programs that help prepare workers, connect them with jobs, and strengthen local economies; and much more.

Many of President Biden’s recommendations directly reflect priorities that America Forward has fought for – and that will meaningfully benefit the more than one hundred innovative, community-serving organizations across the country that make up the America Forward Coalition.

Helping communities recover from COVID-19 and building more equitable education and workforce systems in the long run requires bold investments that allow for innovation, measurement, and the expansion of best practices that lead to better outcomes for students, workers, and families. The President’s Discretionary Request represents just such a bold investment.

As Congress begins its work to develop the FY2022 budget, we urge lawmakers to keep in mind the unprecedented challenges of the past year, and maintain these vital, historic investments in our education and workforce systems.

Update: Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Launches Comprehensive Review of Title IX Regulations to Fulfill President Biden’s Executive Order Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Sex Discrimination

Last week, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced “a comprehensive review of the Department’s regulations implementing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as part of implementing President Biden’s March 8 Executive Order on Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity.”

As part of this process, the OCR has outlined plans to “solicit the public’s input on the regulations, ultimately leading to possible revisions.” To facilitate this, “OCR plans to hold a public hearing to enable those who are interested to share their views through oral comments and written submissions. More information on the hearing will be available in the coming weeks and will be posted on the News Room section of OCR’s website at After listening to the public and completing its review of the Title IX regulations, OCR anticipates publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking.”

Additional information about the OCR review of Title IX regulations can be found here.

Resource: Department of Education Releases “COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students’ Needs”

“Building off of Volume 1: Strategies for Safely Reopening Elementary and Secondary Schools, which focused on health and safety measures that schools can use to successfully implement the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) K-12 Operational Strategy, Volume 2 of the Handbook focuses on research-based strategies to address the social, emotional, mental-health, and academic impacts of the pandemic on students, educators, and staff, such as how to address any potential anxiety or depression some may face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and nearly a year of remote learning.”

You can find the Administration’s press release announcing the release of Volume 2 here.

From the America Forward Coalition

The New York Times: Job Training That’s Free Until You’re Hired Is a Blueprint for Biden

We’re excited to share that our Coalition member Social Finance’s work on Career Impact Bonds was featured this week in The New York Times: “Job Training That’s Free Until You’re Hired Is a Blueprint for Biden.” Coalition members Per Scholas and Year Up were also prominently highlighted as having “a track record of lifting low-income Americans into higher-paying jobs.”

The article highlights Bill and Jordan, two graduates of the program who are among those landing jobs as diesel technicians and seeing average salary increases of more than $12,000. American Diesel Training Centers is Social Finance’s fourth investment through the UP Fund, a $40-50 million pool of catalytic capital that’s investing in 8-12 Career Impact Bonds across the country.

The timing of this article is fortuitous. The article notes that “Social Finance is also preparing a proposal for the new labor secretary, Martin J. Walsh, recommending that the federal government provide matching funds to accelerate state programs.” America Forward has worked with Social Finance on several related proposals, including language in our updated 2021 Pay for Success and Evidence Platform, to be released shortly, calling for federal investments using models aligned with Career Impact Bonds that “could catalyze years of funding for in-demand workforce training.”

Opinion: Emergency Aid Won’t Last Forever. Using Some to Create a Corps of Coaches, Coordinators & Mentors to Support Teachers Would Ensure Long-Term Benefits

City Year’s Jim Balfanz and Arizona State University’s Carole G. Basile advocate for leveraging federal relief funding to support a national corps of community educators and sustainably transform our education system, in this piece from The 74 Million: “Bringing in a diverse array of community educators to address academic, social, emotional and cognitive learning represents a step toward an education workforce that provides teachers with the support they need to help students succeed. Honest observers have long argued that too much is asked of teachers individually…What’s needed is a system that provides mass personalization in education.” Read their full piece here.

Opinion: How older Americans can generate a post-COVID ‘vaccine dividend’ for the U.S. economy’s Marc Freedman urges leaders to call on an older generation to partake in national service as we recover and rebuild from the pandemic, in this piece from MarketWatch: “Why not a co-generational call that meets the moment, helping to vaccinate more Americans and rebuild the nation’s social fabric? A corps aimed not just at surviving the pandemic, but at thriving beyond it.” Read Marc’s full piece here.

Opinion: With Digital Equity, Access is Just the Beginning

The Learning Accelerator’s Beth Holland and Hali Larkins address the challenges of and offer solutions to closing the digital divide, in this piece from Issuu: “Anecdotal accounts from families and educational research prove that simply having the technology in the home is not enough. Steps that increase funding at the federal level are critical for addressing digital equity. However, real solutions that create sustainable and long-term change require a more human approach.” Read their full piece here.

Q&A: How to Coach Students Without Trying to ‘Fix’ Them

Beyond 12’s Alexandra Bernadotte chats with Chronicle’s Goldie Blumenstyk “about coaching historically underrepresented students through college,” in this episode of Innovation That Matters from Chronicle.

Blog Post: How can we design learning settings so that all students thrive?

In a recent Science of Learning and Development (SoLD) Alliance blog post, Pamela Cantor, M.D. – Founder and Senior Science Advisor at Turnaround For Children, an America Forward Coalition member – along with Linda Darling-Hammond, Merita Irby, and Karen Pittman outline why current moment demands transformation of all learning settings. The authors, along with over 100 leaders across the fields of education and youth development, have developed two companion playbooks that will launch in the coming months, one for K-12 educators and one for community-based practitioners, that provide the scientific principles, structures, and practices that will serve as the foundation for new 21st-century education.

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