America Forward Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (7/6)

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, all eyes remained on the bipartisan infrastructure framework that a group of 10 Senators and President Biden agreed upon last week. While Democrats would like to see the bipartisan infrastructure package linked to a reconciliation bill with other provisions from Administration’s American Jobs and American Families Plans, Republican support for the infrastructure bill will depend heavily upon this linkage. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has signaled that he is still undecided on the deal and urged Democratic leadership not to link the two bills.

The House of Representatives voted on and passed legislation to remove statues of individuals linked to the Confederacy and slavery from the Capitol. Speaker Pelosi also revealed her framework for a select committee to investigate the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol. The bill to establish a committee passed the House by a vote of 222-190, with Representatives Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) being the only two Republicans to vote in favor of the bill.

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees continue to work on the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) Appropriations bills. The Senate held a series of hearings and are beginning to roll out their mark-up schedules.  The House Appropriations Committee released its funding allocations for each of the Subcommittees this week.  The Labor-Health and Human Services (HHS)-Education bill saw the biggest increase in its overall allocation. At nearly $237.5 billion, the allocation is a 36 percent increase over last year’s spending level. The full Committee held its first set of mark-ups this week with the Labor-HHS-Education scheduled for next Monday, July 12th. 

America Forward’s FY22 Virtual Appropriations Hill Week (Virtual Hill Week)

Last week, America Forward wrapped up its FY 22 Virtual Appropriations Hill Week! Thank you to everyone who joined us for our virtual celebration hour on Tuesday, and who met with congressional offices over the past week to advocate for our Coalition’s key legislative and appropriations priorities for Fiscal Year 2022. If you have any questions about our FY22 Virtual Hill Week, or are interested in receiving the recordings or slides from any of our Hill Week webinar events, please reach out to

And, whether you were able to participate in Hill Week or not, please help us keep up our momentum and spread the word about the importance of Congressional support for the America Forward Coalition’s FY 22 federal funding priorities, using the sample social posts below or writing your own!

  • We are proud to join @America_Forward in calling for robust support for #EarlyLearning, #K12Education, #HigherEducation, #OpportunityYouth, & #NationalService:
  • .@America_Forward’s FY22 approps letter calls for robust support & increased funding for #EarlyLearning, #K12Education, #HigherEducation, #OpportunityYouth, & #NationalService – all critical to recovering & rebuilding. Read more here:
  • As our education & workforce systems recover & rebuild from the past year, increased support and funding for key policies & programs is more important than ever. We support @America_Forward’s FY22 appropriations requests:

Update: Department of Education Implements TEACH Grant Program Changes to Benefit Teachers and Students

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced changes to the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program. According to ED, “The TEACH Grant Program rules now provide greater flexibility and processes remove pain points grant recipients previously experienced navigating the program.” Among the regulatory changes taking effect:

  • TEACH Grant Exit Counseling is required, and the counseling will inform recipients that the TEACH Grant servicer, FedLoan Servicing, will now send detailed annual notifications to recipients that include service obligation requirements and timelines, documentation reminders, accrued interest estimates, and explanations about the reconversion process.
  • TEACH Grant recipients will no longer have their grants converted to loans if they do not certify that they have begun teaching or intend to begin teaching within 120 days of graduating or withdrawing from school; and there is no requirement for recipients to certify their intent to teach within 120 days of graduating or separating from school.
  • If TEACH Grant recipients do not certify at the end of each year of teaching completed, their grants are not converted to loans until they do not have enough time to complete the required four years of service within the eight-year deadline.
  • The reconsideration process is now open to all TEACH Grant recipients whose grants have converted to loans.
  • The program changes provide additional relief for recipients whose TEACH Grants were converted to loans in error.

Additional information – including the ways in which the American Families Plan further enhances the TEACH Grant award and supports educators – can be found here.

Update: U.S. Department of Education Releases More Than $3 Billion in American Rescue Plan Funds to Support Children with Disabilities

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) “released more than $3 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to states to support infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. The new funding will help aid more than 7.9 million infants, toddlers, and students served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and adds to the ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief allocation of $122 billion in state funding for K-12 schools, which the department announced in March.” More information, including the breakdown of this funding by state and by grant program, can be found here.

Resource: FCC Opens Applications for Emergency Connectivity Fund Program

Last week, the FCC announced that schools and libraries are now able to apply for the $7.2 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. According to the FCC: 

  • How it Works: The Emergency Connectivity Fund Program will reimburse schools and libraries for the reasonable costs of eligible equipment and broadband connections used to help students, staff, and patrons who otherwise lack access to be able to engage in remote learning.”
  • Who’s Eligible: Schools and libraries – including primary and secondary schools – that provided off-site broadband service and connected devices to students, staff, and patrons who would otherwise lack access during the COVID-19 health emergency.”
  • What’s Covered: The fund will reimburse reasonable costs of eligible equipment such as Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, devices that combine a modem and router, connected devices, and eligible broadband connections.” 

Additional information and FAQ’s can also be found through Education Superhighway here.

Update: House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Hearing on “Expanding Access to Higher Education and the Promise it Holds”

Last week, the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee held a hearing on “Expanding Access to Higher Education and the Promise it Holds.” Key issues discussed during the hearing included: strategies to make tax benefits provide greater supports for low-income students; the need to promote a variety of educational and career pathways for students; reasons for the rising cost in higher education and ways to combat this rise; and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected higher education enrollment, attainment and affordability. Additional details and a recording of the hearing can be found here.

Update: Feds Seek to Promote Equity, COVID-19 Recovery, and ‘Systemic Change’ Through Grants

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released a proposal for new funding streams in the form of discretionary grants awarded on a competitive basis with the goal of “addressing the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, creating more welcoming environments for students, and helping ‘advance systemic change’ through community engagement.”

Proposed priorities for these discretionary grants include:

  • Addressing the Impact of COVID–19 on Students, Educators, and Faculty.
  • Promoting Equity in Student Access to Educational Resources, Opportunities, and Welcoming Environments.
  • Supporting a Diverse Educator Workforce and Professional Growth to Strengthen Student Learning.
  • Meeting Student Social, Emotional, and Academic Needs.
  • Increasing Postsecondary Education Access, Affordability, Completion, and Post-Enrollment Success.
  • Strengthening Cross-Agency Coordination and Community Engagement to Advance Systemic Change.

More information on the proposal can be found in this EdWeek article.

Update: U.S. Department of Labor Announces Availability of $43M in Funds to Support Reemployment of Workers Displaced by the Pandemic

Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor announced “the funding availability of approximately $43 million in grants to help reemploy dislocated workers most affected by the economic and employment fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.”

According to the DOL, the funding will be administered by the department’s Employment and Training Administration and the “department will award funds through Comprehensive and Accessible Reemployment through Equitable Employment Recovery National Dislocated Worker Grants. These grants will focus on workers from historically marginalized communities or groups, and those unemployed for an extended period or who have exhausted unemployment insurance or other pandemic unemployment insurance programs.” Additional information can be found here.

From the America Forward Coalition

Opinion: “Toxic polarization threatens our democracy. Here’s how national service can save us.”

Public Allies’s Jenise Terrell and Service Year Alliance’s Kristen Bennett write about the importance of national service in overcoming national polarization and strengthening democracy in this piece from USA Today: “We are at a juncture in American democracy. And the next generation of Americans are eager to be part of the solution to the many complex challenges facing our country…They believe in America and are already invested in fighting for a better future for our country and the world. By expanding national service so that every young person in America has the opportunity to serve, we have a chance to bring people from all walks of life together with shared goals and responsibility and start to bridge the divides that exist between fellow Americans.” Read their full piece here.

Opinion: “Our nation is divided. Millennials can fix it.”

Millennial Action Project’s Layla Zaidane writes about the power of supporting young leaders determined to combat toxic polarization and build stronger civic engagement, in this piece from The Fulcrum: “In a time when it seems like our partisan identities are hopelessly dividing us, my generation is rejecting the very notion that we can be neatly defined by one-dimensional labels. Sure, there’s plenty that we disagree on. But young people, more so than our older counterparts, recognize the benefits of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, and the ways in which we benefit from connecting with people who are different from us. And that means that young people hold the key to fixing the political polarization gripping our nation.” Read Layla’s full piece here.

Article: “A cure for violence.”

This piece from the Boston Globe features Roca Inc., and highlights their incredible young people, their staff, their work to disrupt violence, their impact on local communities and more: “The more you learn about the psychotherapeutic tradition the Roca intervention is built on — its journey from rebellious challenge to potent cure — the easier it is to understand how it could change the lives of the most dangerous and vulnerable young people in America.” Read the full feature here.

Resource: Library Mathematics from Transcend 

This new resource from Transcend was created “to build an understanding of how racism can show up in mathematics pedagogy and in turn impact BIPOC students’ math experiences, as well as support changes to pedagogy in order to create more liberatory learning.”

Report: Where Do We Go Next?, from America’s Promise Alliance

America’s Promise Alliance recently released a new report, Where Do We Go Next?, based on a survey of over 2,400 high school students from across the country, that explores the ways in which the challenges of the past year have impacted our young people. Their main takeaways include:

  • “Finding 1: High schoolers are struggling with a decreased sense of wellbeing—reporting declines in mental health and concerning levels of disconnection from peers and adults.
  • Finding 2: Opportunities to learn about race and racism in the classroom vary but are associated with higher levels of critical consciousness and social action.
  • Finding 3: COVID-19 has upended postsecondary planning, yet feelings of postsecondary readiness are highest among students who are most connected to teachers and peers, have opportunities to discuss race and racism in school, and feel academically interested and challenged.”

Read the full report here.


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