Critical Priorities in the Fiscal Year 2023 Federal Budget

Less than two months after President Joe Biden signed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 omnibus appropriations legislation, Congress is back to the negotiating table, hammering out FY2023 funding bills. 

As our communities continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, Federal appropriators have the opportunity to make investments that both complement and build on the infusion of resources that states and communities received to help mitigate the impacts of the pandemic. 

By taking an intentional approach, Federal appropriators can not only help ensure an equitable recovery from the pandemic, but create the foundation for more sustainable, inclusive, positive outcomes in the long term. 

In April, the America Forward Coalition sent a letter to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees advocating for specific investments that will support our nation’s early childhood centers, K-12 schools, educators, higher education institutions, national service, unemployed and underemployed workers, and children and families. America Forward Coalition members will continue to highlight these priorities during meetings with policymakers and staff as part of our upcoming Hill Week, including: 

Support for Whole-Learner Approaches to Education

Working with a group of Coalition partners, including America’s Promise Alliance, AppleTree, KIPP, New Classrooms, Springboard Collaborative, Turnaround for Children, and Transcend, America Forward has proposed a trio of new, whole-learner education policies that reflect the interconnected way in which students learn and develop, and create the opportunity for state and local education agencies to reimagine education systems. 

The emphasis on whole-learner education – essential to helping students, families, and entire school communities address the trauma created by the pandemic and increasing resilience in the long run – is also reflected in the inclusion of $1 billion in new funding in Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) in the President’s budget request to increase the number of counselors, nurses, and mental health professionals in schools, along with $468 million for Full Service Community Schools, including $25 million specifically devoted to helping “school districts design and implement integrated student supports focused on addressing a range of student and family needs including meeting student social, emotional, mental health, physical health, and academic needs.”

America Forward is also championing the RENEW Act, which would establish a new, $1 billion initiative that recognizes and meets the holistic needs of our students and addresses the varying traumatic experiences brought about by the pandemic, and advocating for investments across the education budget that reflect the importance of whole-learner approaches. 

Early Childhood and K-12

Appropriators have the opportunity to increase funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), Head Start and Early Head Start, and Preschool Development Grants to expand access to high-quality early learning opportunities for some of our youngest learners,  strengthen the child care and early learning workforce, and expand the supply and affordability of quality child care facilities.

In addition, increased funding for Titles I and III, along with after school programs and IDEA are essential, in order to reflect the shifting demographics in our nation’s schools and meaningfully address the systemic gaps that were only exacerbated by the pandemic. And students aren’t the only ones in need of greater support; investments in educators and school leaders are crucial to the health of our school communities, including through an expansion of Title II and the School Leader Recruitment and Support Program. 

Higher Education

Getting more students to and through post-secondary education requires resources that reflect the realities of today’s students. As the cost of college continues to increase, this means increasing the amount of the Pell Grant, as proposed in the President’s budget, and expanding eligibility. It also means more funding for Federal work study, child care access, and programs aimed directly at supporting students throughout their college careers, like the Retention and Completion Grants program, TRIO, and GEAR UP. And it means greater support for institutions that serve a disproportionate number of students with the most significant barriers to retention and completion, namely Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs), Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), and Community Colleges.

Opportunity Youth

The health of our communities and our economy relies on our ability to engage more people in the workforce through increased investment in programs like YouthBuild, Community College Training Grants, and Federal apprenticeship programs. 

It also requires innovative approaches that identify and expand the most effective strategies for engaging (or re-engaging) potential workers. That’s why we’re calling for resources to create a new Workforce Development Innovation Fund, expand the Workforce Data Quality Initiative, fund the new National Youth Employment Program proposed in the President’s budget, and more. 

National Service

National service has enormous potential to aid our communities on the road to recovery, and to create a pathway to address many of our most pressing challenges while imparting vital skills and experience to people across the country. To help meet the expanded need for support, we urge Federal appropriators to fund $2.2 Billion for National and Community Service to increase participation in AmeriCorps to 100,000 members and to raise corps member benefits to reach the living allowance levels as outlined in the bipartisan CORPS Act.

Data and Evidence

A key priority for the effective use of Federal resources remains the infrastructure to identify, measure, and fund approaches that lead to the greatest positive outcomes.  That is why we call on Congress to fund our Next Generation Education Development and Recovery Fund at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to build an education system that unlocks the talent and potential in all students, by understanding what we have learned and strengthening our education systems for the future. We also call for major investment in both the IES and Education, Innovation, and Research (EIR) are critical to both incentivizing  new, innovative approaches, evaluation, and scaling of effective interventions. And we encourage appropriators to invest in programs and approaches that deeply embed evidence and evaluation in our workforce programs, like adding Pay for Performance authority within WIOA, an innovative approach to using data, evidence, and evaluation to improve workforce development outcomes for the most vulnerable citizens. 

The FY2023 budget presents an enormous opportunity to help our communities persevere and set us on a path to provide the resources our nation’s schools and colleges need to be successful, establish needed programming to help up-skill our workforce, support our eroding infrastructure, and ensure our national security. We urge appropriators to take an intentional approach to the appropriations process, and prioritize investments that will generate the most equitable, positive benefit to students, educators, staff, families, and workers across the country.  

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