America Forward Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (5/10)

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

With Members of Congress in the home states and districts last week, action in Washington centered around the Administration’s push for support for their next COVID-related proposals — The American Jobs Plan and The American Families Plan.

Congress returns this week and is expected to continue its work on the Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations bills. Last Wednesday, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona participated in a virtual hearing with the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department’s funding priorities. You can watch a recording of the hearing here. Also, America Forward recently shared our Coalition’s FY22 Appropriations request letter with congressional Appropriators. See below for more information on our Coalition’s upcoming collective advocacy effort on our appropriations priorities.

Last Week at America Forward

America Forward Release 2021 Policy Platforms Across Five Key Areas

Over the past four months, America Forward has worked in close partnership with the members of the America Forward Coalition to develop five robust policy platforms, which will guide our advocacy on Early Learning, K-12 Education, Higher Education, Workforce Development and Economic Justice, and Pay for Success and Evidence-Based Policy.

We want to thank all of the organizations that participated in the development of these platforms, which reflect the extensive work, research, and expertise of the America Forward Coalition and offer a comprehensive policy vision to break down barriers to opportunity and support innovative, effective solutions to our country’s most pressing social problems.

We were thrilled to formally release the final platforms last week. We hope that you’ll take a moment to share relevant platforms with your networks, to highlight the transformative work and deep policy engagement that is characteristic of the America Forward Coalition.

Vanessa Kirsch and Tulaine Montgomery named Co-CEOs of New Profit

Last week, New Profit announced that Tulaine Montgomery will become co-CEO alongside founder and current CEO Vanessa Kirsch. Together, the two will lead the organization forward at a transformational moment for America, with a strong focus on building a community of proximate social entrepreneurs and committed philanthropists who can drive progress on transforming America’s most inequitable systems.

As co-CEOs, Vanessa and Tulaine will collaborate across all aspects of business while retaining their current focus areas: Vanessa will continue to lead portfolio support activities, fundraising across the portfolio, and supporting America Forward in policy leadership. Tulaine will continue to focus on leading Inclusive Impact, fundraising for Proximate Capital initiatives, and serving as New Profit’s lead public advocate. Read more about the announcement here.

Update: Acting FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel Unveils Proposed Rules for Emergency Connectivity Fund

Last week, FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel released a draft Report and Order to implement the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program (Program) that was authorized in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The Program would reimburse schools and libraries for the purchase, during the COVID-19 pandemic, of laptop and tablet computers, Wi-Fi hotspots and other eligible equipment as well as broadband connections for students, school staff, and library patrons who have or would otherwise lack access to connected devices and broadband service.

Key takeaways from the order include:

  • Providing $400 per device. (Waivers can be requested for students with special needs who may need more expensive machines.)
  • Providing $250 per hotspot
  • Paying $10-25 per month for services
  • Prioritizing reimbursing schools that have already purchased devices and connectivity. Only then, if funds are remaining, will they open a second application window.July 1 will likely be the starting date for applications. Additional information can be found here.

Resource: Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

This Wednesday, May 12, eligible households will be able to enroll in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program that “provides a temporary discount on monthly broadband bills for qualifying low-income households.” The program is open to households with children receiving free or reduced-price lunch or school breakfast and Pell Grant recipients. Additional information can be found here.

Resource: CivXNow’s Civics Secures Democracy Act Advocacy Toolkit

CivXNow released an advocacy toolkit to support outreach around the Civics Secures Democracy (CSD) Act (HR 1814/S. 879) (formerly known as the Educating for Democracy Act). America Forward supports this bipartisan, bicameral bill that establishes grants for states and school districts to support and expand access to American history and civics to meet the needs of today’s students and our constitutional democracy. We encourage those that support this legislation to utilize the toolkit on how to reach out to congressional representatives, including webinars to support preparation for constituent meetings.

Resource: Brookings Institute and Service Year Alliance host Reimagining National Service

Last week, the Brookings Institute and Service Year Alliance co-hosted a webinar Reimagining national service, where policymakers and experts discussed “how national service is currently helping the country ‘build back better’ and how we might reimagine national service in America to meet our nation’s top priorities — including COVID response and recovery, workforce development, climate change and infrastructure, racial justice, and healing a divided nation.” A recording of the webinar can be found here.

Update: 2020-21 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC)

In a recent letter to superintendents, Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Suzanne Goldberg “outlined current efforts to address questions regarding the 2020-21 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). The Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recognizes that the pandemic has affected the way that many schools provide instruction. To assist districts and schools that have offered virtual instruction for all or part of the school year, OCR has added new instructions and directional indicators to district- and school-level forms, clarifying how to respond to in-person, virtual, and hybrid educational environments. (Note: For technical assistance, superintendents may reach out to the CRDC’s Partner Support Center at or 855-255-6901.)”

Resource: How to help employers and those struggling to get into the workforce

In an op-ed for The Seattle Times, Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) speaks to the misconceptions of joblessness, the need to advance sustainable and responsive methods to addressing chronic unemployment for communities most disadvantaged, and the importance of the Long-Term Unemployment Elimination Act: “This legislation would provide targeted funding to local communities to help generate work opportunities and get these unemployed Americans back into the workforce. It does this by, among other things, providing support to help people overcome the barriers keeping them out of the workforce in the first place — such as transportation, child care, job readiness training, substance-abuse treatment or assistance finding a permanent job — and training programs that build skills to sustain permanent employment.” America Forward is proud to support both the Long-Term Unemployment Elimination Act, and this editorial piece from Rep. Kilmer. Read the full column here.

From the America Forward Coalition

Report: HHS releases Final Evaluation on Year Up, With Blockbuster Impacts on Earnings

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services released a blockbuster final report on a randomized evaluation on the impact of Year Up, which followed participants for five years after the end of the program. The evaluation found that “the impact on average quarterly earnings” over that five year time period was “large” and “statistically significant,” representing a 34 to 38 percent increase over average earnings for the control group, and that “impacts of about $2,000 [in additional earnings] per quarter extended to the end of this report’s five-year follow-up period,” confirming that Year Up generates the largest earnings impacts ever captured in an RCT. Further, “results show that Year Up was financially worthwhile for society overall, as well as for participants . . .These estimated benefits and costs imply that society gained $1.66 for every $1.00 spent on Year Up.” Read more from Year Up about this exciting news here.

Q&A: It’s Time to Close the Opportunity Gap for Students of Color

The Opportunity Network’s AiLun Ku “shares her advice on how students of color can thrive in college and at work — and how their classmates, colleagues, and organizations can help” in this Q&A with Harvard Business Review.

Letter: Supporting efforts for digital literacy

Tech Goes Home’s Dan Noyes and Theodora Hanna wrote in The Daily News of Newburyport about the importance of digital devices, internet, and training in closing the digital divide: “Too often, the focus is more narrow — only prioritizing access to digital devices, like laptops and tablets, and internet connectivity. These pieces are critical, but their utility is undermined when people don’t have the skills to use them effectively. While many of us may take for granted the intuitive use of digital devices and the ability to easily navigate the internet, thousands of our neighbors — particularly BIPOC, seniors, those in low-income households, and those already facing language barriers — may struggle to use digital tools effectively.” Read their full letter here.

Book: Whole-Child Development, Learning, and Thriving

Turnaround for Children’s Pam Cantor and Nora Gomperts, alongside Richard Lerner, Karen Pittman, and Paul Chase, recently released a book, “Whole-Child Development, Learning, and Thriving: A Dynamic Systems Approach.” It is available for free download until May 19, 2021. The book explores “whole-child development, learning, and thriving through a dynamic systems theory lens that focuses on the United States and includes an analysis of historical challenges in the American public education system, including inequitable resources, opportunities, and outcomes.”

Podcast: Transcending today’s schools through design

In a new podcast episode from Class Disrupted, Transcend Education co-CEOs Aylon Samouha and Jeff Wetzler discussed “why listening to students and families matters when designing schools, how we can use this moment to innovate learning, and the need to bolster capacity toward R&D for education.” Listen to the episode here.

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