America Forward Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (8/2)

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

Progress was made on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Package last week, as the group of bipartisan Senators and President Biden reached a final deal. It allowed for a procedural floor vote to take place on the Senate floor to proceed on consideration of the bill, which passed by a vote of 67-32, with 17 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats. The procedural vote is no guarantee that the final bill will pass but sets a clear indication that there is major bipartisan support for the negotiations to continue. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) continues to have sights set on passing the infrastructure bill and a budget reconciliation bill before the August recess.

The final deal for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Package includes the following:

  • $110 billion for roads, bridges, and major projects;
  • $73 billion for electric grid upgrades;
  • $66 billion for rail and Amtrak improvements;
  • $65 billion for broadband expansion;
  • $55 billion for clean drinking water;
  • $39 billion for transit;
  • $17 billion for ports and $25 billion for airports; and
  • $7.5 billion for electric vehicle chargers.

A full summary of the infrastructure bill can be found here.

As Congress heads toward its August recess, the House of Representatives rolled seven appropriations bills already approved by the House Appropriations Committee into a single package that was passed along a party-line vote on Thursday. The package includes funding for the Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations bill along with Agriculture; Energy And Water Development; Financial Services And General Government; Interior; Environment; Military Construction; Veterans Affairs; Transportation And Housing And Urban Development; Appropriations bills. For more information, you can link here to the press release and the bill text.

Congress also recently passed a $2.1 billion emergency Capitol Hill security appropriations bill in response to the events of January 6th. You can find a summary of the bill here.

Last Week at America Forward

Expanding Pathways to Employment Act

Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) and Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) recently introduced a transformational new bill in the House that links government-funded programs to measurable results by providing grants for the expansion of job training and postsecondary education programs, via a new $700 million mandatory appropriation.

New Profit, America Forward, and members of the America Forward Coalition joined in signing a letter of support for the legislation to the bill sponsors, House Leadership, and the House Problem Solvers Caucus. Altogether, the letter includes 80 signatories from over 70 organizations.

More on the bill:

  • The legislation sets aside dedicated funding for programs that (based on rigorous evaluations) have proven to work for their participants. Eligible programs will include those with statistically significant positive outcomes on earnings, student achievement, or degree completion.
  • A program’s eligibility will depend on its impact relative to its cost, the quality of the evidence supporting it, and how intensively it focuses on promoting equity for those in historically underserved communities.
  • A match, which can be satisfied with other federal formula funds, is a strategic incentive to steer dollars from long-standing federal programs toward these proven approaches. The match can be waived.
  • The bill also sets aside funding to prove the efficacy of a new cohort of innovative, promising approaches via funding for pilots combined with rigorous evaluations. (These do not have a match requirement).

American Rescue Plan (ARP) Updates

Update: U.S. Department of Education Approves State Plans for Use of American Rescue Plan (ARP) Funds to Support K-12 Schools and Students

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has now announced its approval of seventeen state plans for the use of ARP funds to support K-12 schools and students, including: Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. Additional information about the plans for each state can be found here, and a table tracking the status of the plans for each state that submitted them can be found here.

Update: Department of Education Releases Resource to Help Schools Improve Ventilation Systems to Prevent COVID-19

The U.S. Department of Education has released a resource to help schools, colleges, and universities improve their ventilation systems to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and provide healthy learning environments. The resource outlines how American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds can be used to improve indoor air quality and is part of the Department’s broader efforts to support schools as they prepare to welcome students back to in-person learning this fall and build back better.

Update: Department of Education Releases $600 Million in American Rescue Plan Funds to Support Students Experiencing Homelessness

The U.S. Department of Education released nearly $600 million in funding under the American Rescue Plan Act’s Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) program to support students experiencing homelessness. In April, the Department released the first $200 million of the $800 million in ARP-HCY funds to states. To view this announcement from ED, see here.

Update: Department of Education Announces $3.2 Billion in Additional Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds to Support Students at Historic and Under-Resourced Institutions

The U.S. Department of Education announced $3.2 billion in additional emergency grants under the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). These funds will support students who attend over 1,800 institutions of higher education and provide resources to help these institutions recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

Of these funds, $2.97 billion from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) will provide $1.6 billion to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), $143 million to Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs), and another $1.19 billion to Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) and under-resourced institutions eligible for the Strengthening Institutions Programs, many of which are community colleges. Additionally, $225 million comes from additional grants from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) to support public and non-profit institutions and their students with the greatest unmet needs related to the pandemic. The announcement increases the total amount of funding made available to colleges under the HEERF to more than $76 billion. To view this announcement from ED, see here.

Update: The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) within the U.S. Department of Commerce released a series of six funding opportunities.

Under the American Rescue Plan, EDA was awarded $3 billion in supplemental funding, allowing it to make large, transformational investments with an emphasis on equity. Much of the $3 billion will be distributed through competitive grant processes under six new programs: Build Back Better Regional Challenge; Good Jobs Challenge; Economic Adjustment Assistance; Indigenous Communities; Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation; and Statewide Planning, Research and Networks.

In addition to state, local and tribal governments, most of the funding opportunities are also open to “Institution of higher education or a consortium of institutions of higher educations,” and “Public or private non-profit organization or association acting in cooperation with officials of a political subdivision of a State.” Deadlines vary based on program, though most of the opportunities will be open for at least several months. We think some of our Coalition members may be interested in pursuing this opportunity, especially in partnership with other state and local stakeholders. Learn more at

From the America Forward Coalition

Resource: Transcend’s Extended Learning Time Primer

Transcend is proud to publish The Extended Learning Time Primer to help bring extended learning time (ELT) to your school. After a year where students experienced learning in so many different ways, there will be an increased focus on addressing needs this fall. Extended learning time takes place when hours are added to the school day, or school days are added to the year, in order to better support students and educators.

Effective ELT programs have shown positive outcomes for all students, including, but not limited to, improved literacy and math achievement, higher self-confidence, and improved social-emotional skills. Download the Transcend Extended Learning Time Primer here.

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