America Forward Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (6/14)

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

Neither the House of Representatives nor the Senate were in session last week, but both return to Washington this week for floor votes and a number of Committee hearings. Also last week, President Joe Biden traveled to Europe for his first overseas visit as President.

The focus in Washington last week was on continued negotiations of an infrastructure package. Last Thursday, a group of ten bipartisan senators announced they had reached a deal among themselves on a “realistic, compromise framework to modernize our nation’s infrastructure and energy technologies.” This investment would be fully paid for and not include tax increases. A Hill source stated that the package was focused on “core, physical infrastructure;” and included $579 billion in new spending. The bill would cost $1.2 trillion over eight years. The group said they plan to discuss their approach with colleagues and the White House with the hope of moving forward on a deal before the 4th of July recess.

Resource: Applications for New Awards; Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Program-Expansion-Phase Grants

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released two notices inviting applications (NIAs) for Mid-Phase and Expansion-Phase EIR projects. The EIR program “provides funding to create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve student achievement and attainment for high-need students; and rigorously evaluate such innovations. The EIR program is designed to generate and validate solutions to persistent education challenges and to support the expansion of those solutions to serve substantially larger numbers of students.”

Important dates:

  • Pre-Application Webinar: June 10, 2021
  • Deadline for Notice of Intent to Apply: June 28, 2021
  • Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: July 7, 2021

More information about the FY 2021 EIR Competition can be found here, and any questions may be directed to

Update: Department of Education Announces Actions to Advance Equity in Education

Last week, the Department of Education announced a series of actions it is taking to advance equity in education and ensure schools across the nation are best serving and meeting the needs of all students. These actions include:

  • The release of a new report highlighting the disparate impacts COVID-19 has had on underserved communities;
  • The release of guidance to implement “an historic provision within the American Rescue Plan that will ensure that the school districts with the highest poverty do not receive any per-pupil decrease in state funding below their pre-pandemic levels”; and
  • The launch of an Equity Summit Series by the Department featuring “panel discussions focused on best practices for building an equitable environment in our schools, and remarks from individuals who are working to make those equitable schools a reality.”

Additional information on these actions to advance equity in education can be found here.

Update: Centers for Disease Control and U.S. Department of Education Release Guidance for Reopening Higher Education Institutions

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently revised its Guidance for Institutions of Higher Education, stating colleges and universities can host in-person learning at full capacity without requiring masks or physical distancing if all of their students, faculty, and staff are fully vaccinated before the fall semester begins. At schools that lack fully vaccinated populations, administrators should consider the level of virus transmission in their community and vaccine coverage among students and employees. They should also set up robust testing programs that can identify any clusters of infection or monitor full-fledged outbreaks.

Responding to the guidance, the Department released its COVID-19 Handbook Volume 3: Strategies for Safe Operation and Addressing the Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education Students, Faculty, and Staff. The agency worked with public health officials and partners across the Administration to ensure this resource provides actionable strategies schools can use to implement CDC guidance to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. It also provides strategies on how schools can utilize funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and previous federal relief bills to meet the needs of all students, boost vaccination rates on campus, and address inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic, among other topics.

Advancing Whole-Learner Education

The June edition of America Forward’s monthly Whole Learner Education Insights and Action Newsletter went out last week. Check it out here! If you missed it but want to see the next one in your inbox, visit and subscribe at the bottom of the page!

From the America Forward Coalition

Opinion: Rebuilding an Age-Integrated Society’s Marci Alboher and Eunice Lin Nichols write about what’s needed to implement innovative, intergenerational strategies, in this piece from Stanford Social Innovation Review: “Collectively, we face a range of social problems, including wasted human resources, generational tension and rampant ageism, an epidemic of loneliness, and splintered movements for social change. Individually, we’re left without the proverbial village, making it harder to raise children and support caregivers, understand the challenges other generations face, find mentors at work and role models in life, and collaborate across divides to solve problems such as racial justice and climate change. But while it’s true that social innovation helped get us into this mess, we believe it can help us find our way out.” Read their full piece here.

Tech Goes Home: 2020 Annual Report

Tech Goes Home recently released their 2020 Annual Report, outlining their transition to distance learning in the face of the COVID-19 crisis; their key partners in their work to close the digital divide, especially during the pandemic; their measurable impact on the communities they serve, and more. Read the full report here.

Transitions: The Highlander Institute’s Dana Borrelli-Murray Looks Back at a Leadership Journey

The Highlander Institute’s Executive Director, Dana Borrelli-Murray, writes about transitioning out of the organization, lessons learned along the way, and what’s next for her, for the industry, and for the world, in a moving piece on the Highlander Institute blog. Read her full post here.

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