America Forward Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (6/21)

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


Last weekend, President Biden was in Europe for the G-7 Summit, where world leaders engaged on shared priorities, including COVID-19 pandemic response, vaccine distribution, climate change, and human rights. The President then went to Geneva for a diplomatic summit with President Putin of Russia.

Infrastructure talks continue in the Senate with a bipartisan group of Senators proposing a $1 trillion plan that includes $579 billion in new spending and multiple “pay-fors”. Late this week, an additional eleven Senators threw their support behind this proposal which lends additional momentum to it. At the same time, Senate Democrats are also weighing a $6 trillion infrastructure bill if the bipartisan plan fails and moving that package through the budget reconciliation process. 

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer told his caucus that a vote on the elections reform bill “For the People Act (S. 1)” will happen today, Tuesday, June 22. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), the only Senate Democrat who has not co-sponsored the bill, announced his recommendations for changes to the bill. His compromise proposal includes a ban on partisan gerrymandering, voter ID stipulations, and automatic voter registration through the DMV. Stacey Abrams, who is leading the national fight to expand voting rights, endorsed Senator Manchin’s plan and it’s expected to gain Democrat support in the Senate. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has already voiced that all Republican Senators will oppose Manchin’s plan.

Both the House and Senate passed a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday after Senator Ron Johnson lifted his hold on the legislation last Tuesday. President Biden signed the legislation last Thursday.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona testified before the Senate Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations Subcommittee last Wednesday on the President’s FY22 Budget Request for the Department of Education. More information below.


Last Week at America Forward


America Forward Statement on the Nomination of Michael D. Smith to Serve as CEO of AmeriCorps

Last week, America Forward issued the following statement in response to the nomination of Michael D. Smith to serve as the next CEO of AmeriCorps:

“America Forward applauds President Joe Biden’s nomination of Michael D. Smith to serve as the next CEO of AmeriCorps. At such a critical moment for our nation – when the potential impact of national service is perhaps more important than ever – Michael is uniquely well-suited to lead AmeriCorps, formerly the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Throughout his career, Michael has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to equity, an allegiance to working in deep partnership with community, and a determination to expand opportunity and drive positive outcomes for all people – particularly those in historically underserved communities. The America Forward community is proud to have known Michael for many years, including when he led the Social Innovation Fund – a groundbreaking program housed within the former CNCS that brought together public and private resources to support evidence-based, community-centered approaches to expanding economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development, We urge the Senate to take up his nomination quickly so that we can continue working together to drive all of America forward.”


New Profit & America Forward Coalition Organizations receive breakthrough funding from MacKenzie Scott

Last week, New Profit announced a significant donation from MacKenzie Scott to support proximate leaders best positioned to create innovative, experience-driven solutions in education, health, economic mobility, democracy, and other areas. The unrestricted gift will enable New Profit to continue to expand its support for social entrepreneurs and other leaders who have lived experience with the systems in our country that need to change, and provide these leaders and organizations with much needed growth capital and strategic support at a critical moment in philanthropy’s evolution. 

“We have been leaving impact on the table for far too long by not investing in those closest to the challenges we want to address, in part because we have had too narrow a view of what talent looks like and where it comes from,” said Tulaine Montgomery, Co-CEO of New Profit. “This gift acknowledges New Profit’s commitment to investing in the genius of proximate problem solvers.”

“This donation will move us closer to our goal of raising $100 million this year, which will allow us to provide proximate leaders with the growth capital and capacity building they need to lead the way to an America where everyone thrives,” said Vanessa Kirsch, Founder and Co-CEO of New Profit. “We are honored to be among this group of truly amazing organizations that, together, represent the full breadth of the human experience.”

Read New Profit’s full announcement here.

Also receiving funding from Ms. Scott as part of her latest round of contributions are America Forward Coalition member organizations Third Sector, Social Finance, GreenLight Fund, Project Evident, and Service Year Alliance.


Resource: U.S. Department of Education Posts State Plans for Use of American Rescue Plan Funds to Support Students and the Safe and Sustained Reopening of Schools

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education posted “28 plans submitted by State Education Agencies (SEAs) describing how states plan to use American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funds to support schools, students and educators.” The nearly $122 billion influx of funding is designed to “support the nation’s schools in safely reopening and sustaining safe in-person operations while meeting the social, emotional, mental health and academic needs of students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Additional information from the Department can be found here, and a breakdown of state plans from The 74 Million can be found here.


Update: U.S. Department of Education Confirms Title IX Protects Students from Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued a Notice of Interpretation explaining that it will “enforce Title IX’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex to include: (1) discrimination based on sexual orientation; and (2) discrimination based on gender identity.” According to the Department, “The Department’s interpretation stems from the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, issued one year ago this week, in which the Supreme Court recognized that it is impossible to discriminate against a person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity without discriminating against that person based on sex.” Additional information about the interpretation can be found here.


Update: Hearing on the President’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request for the United States Department of Education

Last week, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, regarding the President’s FY2022 budget requests for the U.S. Department of Education. A recording of the hearing can be found here

The Secretary will also testify before the House Committee on Education and Labor during their full committee hearing Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Education this Thursday, June 24, 2021. Additional information can be found here


Update: House Education and Labor Subcommittee Hearing on Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Reauthorization: Examining Successful Models of Employment for Justice-Involved Individuals

Last week, the House Education and Labor Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee held a hearing on Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Reauthorization: Examining Successful Models of Employment for Justice-Involved Individuals. Members and witnesses discussed: 

  • The benefits of providing wraparound services for justice-involved individuals;
  • Ways to address employer stigma surrounding hiring justice-involved individuals;
  • Barriers that justice-involved individuals face upon reentry to society;
  • Additional challenge that Black justice-involved individuals face; and
  • The need for prisoners to prepare for societal reentry prior to release.

View a recording of the hearing here. This was the third hearing held by the Committee as they work towards drafting a WIOA Reauthorization bill. Information on the other hearings are here.


Update: Youth suicide attempts soared during pandemic, CDC report says

According to findings recently published by the CDC, “There was a 22.3 percent spike in ER trips for potential suicides by children aged 12 to 17 in summer 2020 compared to 2019,” further emphasizing the critical importance of mental health support for school-aged children. Additional information can be found here.


Update: RecycleForce’s Gregg Keesling Testifies in Front of House Education and Labor Committee 

Last week, Gregg Keesling, President of RecycleForce – a partner of America Forward Coalition member REDF – testified in front of the House Education and Labor committee during a subcommittee hearing titled Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Reauthorization: Examining Successful Models of Employment for Justice-Involved Individuals. A recording of the hearing, as well as Mr. Keesling’s testimony, can be found here


From the America Forward Coalition


Playbook: Design Principles for Schools: Putting the Science of Learning and Development Into Action

Turnaround for Children, the SoLD Alliance, the Learning Policy Institute, and the Forum for Youth Investment recently released a new playbook, Design Principles for Schools: Putting the Science of Learning and Development Into Action, which “suggests a set of engineering principles that were developed by a group of educators, practitioners, scientists, and parents, building on the knowledge we have today and the contributions of many in the field to nurture innovations, new models, and new enabling policies…At their foundation, the design principles are intended to advance the following goals for youth learning and development:

  • Learners can think critically and creatively to solve complex problems.
  • Learners deeply understand content and can apply their knowledge beyond the classroom.
  • Learners are self-aware and engage meaningfully with others.
  • Learners hold a positive sense of identity, self-potential, purpose, and direction.
  • Learners make healthy life choices.
  • Learners are empathetic, ethical, and proactive in contributing to the welfare of their communities.

The playbook includes a set of design principles—informed by the Guiding Principles for Equitable Whole Child Design—to achieve these goals along with recommendations for evidence-based structures and practices that further these aims in k–12 learning settings.”

Read the full playbook here.


Transitions: Christina Donald Promoted to Senior Vice President, Advocacy at Wyman.

This week, Wyman announced the promotion of Christina Donald to Senior Vice President, Advocacy, after 21 years with the organization. Most recently, Christina served as Senior Director, National Network where she led the growth of Wyman’s National Network to 71 partners across the United States. These partners contract with Wyman for staff training and then replicate Wyman’s evidence-based programs to tens of thousands of teens. In her new role of Senior Vice President, Advocacy, Christina will lead the establishment of Wyman’s advocacy platform and strategic areas of focus. This includes public policy work, working with aligned coalitions, and infusing youth voice and leadership throughout Wyman. Read more about staff promotions and leadership structure at Wyman as the organization prepares for the future here.

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