America Forward Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (5/17)

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, a lot of attention was on House Republicans as they voted to replace Liz Cheney (R-WY) with Elise Stefanik (R-NY) in the number three post in Republican House leadership.

The Biden Administration continued to work on garnering support for the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan. The President hosted top leaders from the House and Senate to see if they could get an agreement on an infrastructure package outlined in the American Jobs Plan; while there were no breakthroughs in the negotiations, the leaders did agree to continue discussions on how they might reach a compromise.

In addition, the Administration continued to roll-out various programs and funding that were enacted in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). For example, the Treasury Department released the ARPA’s Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (the Fiscal Recovery Funds) Interim Final Rule, with detailed guidance on how state, local, territorial and Tribal governments can use this $350 billion between now and 2024. More information on this and other announcements are below.

Update: Treasury Department Releases the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (the Fiscal Recovery Funds) Interim Final Rule

Last week, the Treasury Department released the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (the Fiscal Recovery Funds) Interim Final Rule. The Fiscal Recovery Funds, established by ARPA, provides $350 billion in emergency funding for eligible state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments to respond to acute pandemic response needs, address revenue shortfalls, and support the communities hardest-hit by the COVID-19 crisis. The Treasury announcement also includes specifics on how much state, local, territorial and Tribal governments will receive, and when, and an FAQ document.

These ARPA funds are allocated to state, local, territorial and Tribal governments – at this time, nonprofits cannot directly apply for funding. There is a wide range of allowable uses for these funds, from addressing the economic effects of the pandemic to making investments in infrastructure, and state and local government timing on deciding the use of these funds will vary. America Forward does not have information as of yet on how Coalition members can leverage this funding, but it is clear the funds can be used by state and local governments in ways that could impact the Coalition’s work.

With this context, a few components of the guidance may be of particular interest to Coalition members, including:

  • Workforce Development: Treasury guidance that funds may be spent on “job training to address negative economic or public health impacts experienced due to a worker’s occupation or level of training,” and that “In assessing whether a household or population experienced economic harm as a result of the pandemic, a recipient may presume that a household or population that experienced unemployment or increased food or housing insecurity or is low- or moderate-income experienced negative economic impacts resulting from the pandemic.”
  • Early Learning, Educational Equity, & Evidence-Based Educational Programs: Guidance that funds can also be spent on:
    • “New, expanded, or enhanced early learning services, including pre-kindergarten, Head Start, or partnerships between pre-kindergarten programs and local education authorities, or administration of those services;”
    • “Providing assistance to high-poverty school districts to advance equitable funding across districts and geographies;”
    • “Evidence-based educational services and practices to address the academic needs of students, including tutoring, summer, afterschool, and other extended learning and enrichment programs;” and
    • “Evidence-based practices to address the social, emotional, and mental health needs of students.”
  • To build evidence, outcomes, data and evaluation capacity: To “improve efficacy of programs addressing negative economic impacts, including through use of data analysis, targeted consumer outreach, improvements to data or technology infrastructure, and impact evaluations.”
  • Social Determinants of Health: “Funding community health workers to help community members access health services and services to address the social determinants of health.”
  • To promote racial and economic equity: “Targeting relief is in line with Executive Order 13985 On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, which laid out an Administration-wide priority to support ‘equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.’ To this end, the Interim Final Rule enumerates a list of services that may be provided using Fiscal Recovery Funds in low-income areas to address the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic in these communities.”

America Forward has flagged these key excerpts (along with corresponding page numbers in the final rule) and additional relevant excerpts here.

In general, with certain restrictions, the Treasury guidance is wide-ranging and gives state, local, territorial and Tribal governments flexibility to deploy funding based on regional and local priorities in response to the health, economic, and education crises related to the pandemic.

Resource: U.S. Department of Education Makes Available $36 Billion in American Rescue Plan Funds to Support Students and Institutions

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced “more than $36 billion in emergency grants today provided under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act for postsecondary education. These grants will help over 5,000 institutions of higher education (institutions), including HBCUs, TCCUs, and HSIs, provide emergency financial aid to millions of students and ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 national emergency. Emergency funds provided by ARP more than double the emergency relief aid available to students and institutions already authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) relief legislation. This funding is provided by the ARP’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF III), with a new formula requiring approximately half of the funding to be used by each institution to provide direct relief to students.” More information can be found here.

Update: Biden Administration Launches Public Health AmeriCorps

As part of a $7 billion investment in the public health workforce, the Biden-Harris Administration has announced Public Health AmeriCorps, which will support the recruitment, training, and development of a new generation of public health leaders who will be ready to respond to the nation’s public health needs.

According to the press release from the White House, “At a time of unprecedented interest in public health, CDC and AmeriCorps (the Corporation for National and Community Service) will launch the Public Health AmeriCorps – a $400 million investment from the American Rescue Plan to recruit and build a new workforce ready to respond to the public health needs of the nation. The program will focus on building a diverse pipeline for the public health workforce and providing direct service to communities across the country. The partnership will leverage the expertise of both agencies, capitalizing on AmeriCorps’ experience managing some of the most prominent public service and workforce development programs in the nation while benefiting from CDC’s technical expertise as the country’s leading public health agency.”

Update: Applications for New Awards; Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) Partnership Grants

The U.S. Department of Education issued a notice inviting applications (NIA) for fiscal year 2021 (FY21) for the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) Partnership Grants. GEAR UP is a discretionary grant designed to help eligible low-income students, including students with disabilities, in obtaining a secondary school diploma and prepare for postsecondary education. Activities must include postsecondary financial aid information, reduce remediation at the postsecondary level, and improve the number of students who obtain a secondary school diploma, complete applications, and enroll in postsecondary education. Activities may include mentoring; tutoring; dual or concurrent enrollment programs for students in STEM; academic and career counseling; financial and economic literacy education; and exposure to college campuses. Applications are due June 28, 2021.

Advancing Whole-Learner Education

The latest edition of America Forward’s monthly Whole Learner Education Insights and Action Newsletter went out earlier this week! Not signed up for the newsletter, but want to see it in your inbox? Visit and subscribe at the bottom of the page!

From the America Forward Coalition

Opinion: Housing is critical infrastructure — federal spending must prioritize it

Enterprise Community Partners’ Priscilla Almodovar writes about the importance of prioritizing funding for infrastructure in this piece from The Hill: “The cost of not investing in housing — of ignoring it as the essential infrastructure it is — will be greater than any legislative price tag: it includes the lost business revenue from consumer purchasing power that evaporates after paying rent; the skyrocketing amount we’ll spend annually on disaster recovery; and increased health care costs to care for people who live in substandard, deteriorating homes.” Read Priscilla’s full piece here.

Opinion: Federal education policies will trigger a second wave of learning loss

New Classrooms Innovation Partners’ Joel Rose writes about the importance of addressing learning loss, and ways to do so, in this piece from The Hill: “Addressing learning loss now and for the future requires staying steadfast to the idea of college and career readiness as the ultimate goal, but allowing more flexibility in the time and pathways that individual students take to get there. It means that some seventh grade teachers will need to spend part of the year focused on key learning gaps from the fifth or sixth grades without fear that their expectations will be viewed as insufficient. They’ll need the tools, the training and the permission to do so.” Read Joel’s full piece here.

Opinion: Structural Racism by the Numbers and How to Fix It

The Opportunity Network’s AiLun Ku and Jessica Pliska write about how to combat structural racism in the workplace in this piece from OZY: “Why do we have expectations for white students’ unfettered choice of careers, but for students of color, the solution favors immediate practicality over long-term sustainability, compromise over potential and technical skills over leadership? It isn’t equity without choice. Those who hold privilege, especially white privilege, must not serve as gatekeepers to opportunities for certain students or allow for other people’s children what they deem isn’t good enough for their own.” Read their full piece here.

Resource: High-Dosage Tutoring Primer

Transcend recently released a primer on high-dosage tutoring to assist educators and school leaders as they turn their attention to planning for the next academic year. “The widespread shift to complex new virtual or hybrid models this year and the social and emotional challenges many students have experienced have heightened worries about lost schooling and ‘summer slide.’ To combat actual or perceived gaps, districts are seeking solutions and ways to make use of Federal COVID relief funds. To this end, Transcend has developed a primer on high-dosage tutoring, one of five evidence-based tenets recommended by the Harvard Education Innovation Laboratory for meeting students’ needs.”

America Forward Coalition & Network Job Opportunities

New Profit: Multiple Positions

New Profit is currently hiring for four positions. Follow the links below for additional details and application information:

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