America Forward Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (7/12)

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 week, the White House urged congressional Democrats to introduce the long-negotiated infrastructure bill as early as the end of this month. The bipartisan group of Senators and their offices are under a time crunch with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) signaling that he would like to have the infrastructure package and a budget resolution setting up reconciliation before the congressional recess in August. Leader Schumer has even warned Senate Democrats of possible late nights, weekends, and a shortened August recess in order to get the two priorities passed.

The House Sergeant at Arms announced that the remaining fencing surrounding the Capitol building that was erected as a security measure after the January 6th insurrection would come down last Friday. Security measures, however, remain a top priority, and the Architect of the Capitol “has the ability to and will expeditiously reinstall the temporary fencing should conditions warrant,” according to the House Sergeant at Arms.

U.S. Department of Education officials have joined a growing group of legislators and stakeholders who are calling on the Biden Administration to extend the moratorium on student loan payments until the end of January 2022. The White House has not signaled whether President Biden will or will not extend the pause on student loan payments, nor has Education Secretary Miguel Cardona taken a stance.

Save the Date

Virtual Event: “Breaking the Homelessness-Jail Cycle with Housing First: Results from the Denver Supportive Housing Social Impact Bond Initiative”

This Thursday, July 15 from 3:00 – 4:30 PM EDT, the Urban Institute and the City of Denver will co-host a conversation about the Denver Supportive Housing Social Impact Bond (SIB) /Pay for Success Financing Initiative, including a summary of the soon-to-be-released evaluation findings and pay for success outcomes, as well as a panel discussion about the implementation of the initiative and the implications of its success. America Forward Coalition members–the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) and Enterprise Community Partners–have been deeply involved in this transformative project; and we expect this final evaluation will have important and exciting implications for the broader Pay for Success field moving forward.

Speakers will include:

  • Michael B. Hancock, Mayor, City and County of Denver
  • Carl Clark, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mental Health Center of Denver
  • Mary K. Cunningham, Vice President, Metropolitan Housing and Communities, Urban Institute
  • Margaret Danuser, Deputy Chief Financial Officer, City and County of Denver
  • Deborah De Santis, President and Chief Executive Officer, Corporation for Supportive Housing
  • John Parvensky, President and Chief Executive Officer, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
  • Deborah Kasemeyer, Director of Community Development and Investments, Northern Trust

You can find more information and register here.

Last Week at America Forward

New Profit and America Forward Statement on Rising Antisemitism

Last week, New Profit and America Forward issued a joint statement in response to rising instances of antisemitism across the country. The full statement is below:

“Antisemitic acts – already at alarming and historically high levels – have accelerated across the country, including the recent stabbing of Rabbi Shlomo Noginski last week in Boston. New Profit and America Forward condemn these brutal acts of hate directed at Jewish people and Jewish institutions, and we commend President Biden and other public, faith, business, and community leaders across the political spectrum for speaking out forcefully against this violence, vandalism, and hatred.

Any instance of hatred or violence directed at individuals or communities on account of their religious, ethnic, racial, or cultural identity is destructive to our shared humanity and strikes at the very foundation of our democracy. Acts of hatred and violence directed at Jewish people and Jewish institutions must not be tolerated and we condemn them.

New Profit and America Forward – along with our portfolio and coalition organizations – work every day in communities across our country to advance policies and support efforts on the ground to combat hatred and systemic racism, create deeper understanding, and build stronger, more equitable systems. We will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Jewish colleagues, family and friends, community members, and those across the country who are victims of violence and bigotry or are dealing with individual and community trauma resulting from acts of antisemitism. We remain committed to doing everything in our power – as individuals and as an organization – to support the urgent work of building community, increasing understanding, and advancing equity and opportunity for all.”

Recapping #AmericaForwardHillWeek

As part of the recent America Forward Hill Week, participating Coalition members engaged in more than 100 hours of virtual training and capacity building, learning and practicing effective advocacy approaches; held meetings with 25+ Congressional offices to advocate for critical funding priorities in the Federal FY22 budget; and generated 50,000+ impressions on social media by highlighting their participation with #AmericaForwardHillWeek. Read our full recap here!

Update: U.S. Department of Education Approves First Seven State Plans for Use of American Rescue Plan Funds to Support K-12 Schools and Students, Distributes an Additional $6 Billion in Funds to Approved States

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced the approval of seven American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) state plans and distributed remaining ARP ESSER funds to those states. The state plans detail how states are using and plan to use ARP ESSER funds to safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools, and address the needs of students, including by equitably expanding opportunity for students disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the full announcement and find additional information here.

Update: “Expanding Pathways to Employment” Act Introduced

On July 1, Representatives Mikie Sherril (D-NJ) and David McKinley (R-WV), introduced the bipartisan “Expanding Pathways to Employment Act.” The legislation would create a $700M version of the Equitable Employment Outcomes Fund that America Forward – along with several members of the America Forward Coalition – have advocated for over the past several months, to provide “grant funding for the operation and expansion of evidence-based workforce development and post-secondary education programs and for the further evaluation of these programs,” with a specific emphasis on historically under-resourced communities.

America Forward’s Executive Director, Deborah Smolover, was quoted in the press release announcing the new legislation: “Equitably and sustainably improving outcomes for all people in our communities means both investing in proven strategies and providing support for promising, innovative approaches. This legislation will put game-changing resources behind an intentional effort to improve economic mobility and education outcomes, with a specific emphasis on reducing persistent inequity. We applaud the bill’s bipartisan sponsors and urge their Congressional colleagues to support this critical piece of legislation, which can serve as a model for how to maximize the positive impact of federal resources to move all of America forward.”

If your organization is supportive of this legislation and would like to amplify its introduction, please find a social media toolkit here. We also expect to circulate a support letter for the bill in the coming weeks we will ask Coalition members to sign onto – stay tuned!

Update: U.S. Department of Education Invites States and School Districts to Apply for Additional $600 Million in American Rescue Plan Funds for Students Experiencing Homelessness

To help support the needs of students experiencing homelessness, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) is inviting states to complete the application for their share of the second disbursement of $800 million in funding under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021’s Homeless Children and Youth Fund (ARP-HCY). You can find more information here.

From the America Forward Coalition

Opinion: Addressing biases and barriers can help solve worker shortage

In the San Jose Mercury News, REDF’s Carla Javits writes, “As the economy emerges from the pandemic and our state and nation come to grips with our long history of racism and inequity, we can do much more to create an inclusive economy that will deliver benefits to us all. To do so, we must refocus on individuals’ strengths, experiences, and ability to contribute no matter their circumstances. We must stop boxing people into stereotyped categories — homeless person, ex-convict, addict — and see them instead as colleagues and contributors.” You can read Carla’s full piece here.

Brief: “Economic Mobility in Practice: How A Focus on Outcomes Changes Everything”

Third Sector recently published a blog and corresponding brief detailing how public agencies in four different states improved economic mobility for youth and young adults by employing six outcomes-focused system change principles.

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