Part One: Lifting Up Policy Ideas for the Next Administration and Next Congress

The following post was written by America Forward Government Affairs Director Nicole Truhe.

Over a year ago, America Forward launched its 2016 Presidential campaign engagement effort to promote the best ideas and most effective approaches to address the biggest challenges facing our nation. Our community of social entrepreneurs shaped these ideas that are focused on ways for policymakers to scale local results into national impact. With Election Day now in the rearview mirror, and transition from the Obama Administration to the incoming Trump Administration taking place in less than 50 days, we are focused on lifting up actionable policy ideas that the next President, the next Administration, and the incoming 115th Congress can advance to measurably improve the lives of Americans most in need.

America Forward’s coalition of more than 70 entrepreneurial organizations across the country are leading the way in the use of cutting-edge data and research to pursue bold, innovative, outcomes-driven solutions to some of the most difficult challenges associated with workforce development, education, and poverty alleviation. Our organizations are constantly learning about what works, developing new innovations, measuring outcomes, and achieving real results in their communities. We have created and are sharing with members of the transition team and incoming Trump Administration policy ideas that reflect these same themes.

In policy memos crafted for the incoming leadership of the Corporation for National and Community Service, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Labor are policy ideas that advance innovation, leverage cross-sector partnerships, focus on data and outcomes, and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our government policy and funding decisions. Examples of the ideas that the America Forward Coalition has identified include:

Corporation for National and Community Service

  • Support and Scale the Social Innovation Fund: The Social Innovation Fund (SIF) is a unique government program in that data and evidence are core components of the funding decision process and SIF has played an integral role in the evidence-based policy movement. As a result, the next Administration should scale the SIF and incorporate lessons learned from its implementation in future applications.
  • Encourage and Create More Opportunities to Serve: National Service has garnered support from both sides of the aisle and data supports its impact for individuals and its monetary returns to society. The incoming Trump Administration should ensure that the supply of available service positions meets the demand while increasing the focus on the impact of service programs over compliance. 

Department of Education

  • Incentivize Data Collection and Information Sharing: To increase accountability in our education system, we need to ensure that data is collected about the work of our schools and that information about the impacts learned from that data collection is shared with students and families as they make decisions about schools and courses. The incoming Trump Administration has the opportunity to continue to support the collection of key data points regarding the work of our K-12 and higher education systems while looking for additional ways to streamline data collection and dissemination processes all with the goal of creating greater accountability and a heightened focus on outcomes within our secondary and post-secondary systems.
  • Leverage Science to Reimagine Learning: The available science about brain development and its impact on learning has vastly increased in the last decade resulting in a greater ability to meet students where they are and to provide the needed supports for maximum educational achievement. The new Education Secretary should harness the science and learnings in this space to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the education system, to transform the school environment to maximize the potential of all students, and to support innovative strategies for student learning.
  • Emphasize Community Partnerships: The education of students is a team effort that should not be tasked just to our schools but that should also involve community partners as critical players in ensuring that additional resources are available to support progress for all students. The incoming Trump Administration should support the use of community partners in classrooms and on campuses in order to increase the quality of the programming available and to ensure successful completion of education activities for students in both the K-12 and post-secondary education systems.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • Promote Outcomes-Driven Programming: Within the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), there is a new early learning program that presents an opportunity to both increase coordination between the Departments of Health and Human Services and Education while bringing a greater focus on outcomes to the early learning space. The next Secretary of Health and Human Services has the opportunity to ensure this collaboration is prioritized, to promote innovation through investment choices, and to incentivize and leverage existing preschool grants and charter school programs to drive improvement in early education outcomes.
  • Accelerate the Development and Scaling of What Works: The idea of making government more effective and efficient has garnered bipartisan support and has been advanced by many past Administrations. The incoming Trump Administration has the opportunity to leverage the new Head Start regulations to support innovative approaches that provide high-quality programming for young people and to broadly incorporate a Pay for Results mindset within the Department of Health and Human Services regarding the policies it supports and the funding decisions it makes.

Department of Labor

  • Focus on Innovation and Opportunity in Workforce: With the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), there are a number of authorities for states and local workforce systems to incorporate into their workforce plans to support flexibility, to focus on outcomes, and to drive funding to what works. The new Secretary of Labor in the Trump Administration should provide guidance and support to states and localities as they assess and determine how to modify their practices and integrate the changes made by WIOA to include a focus on outcomes, the utilization of Pay for Performance contracting, and a focus on flexibility and innovation in the provision of programs and services.
  • Support Bridge Building and Skills Development: Given the noted shortage of qualified workers for the over five million open U.S. jobs, our workforce system needs to utilize innovative approaches to ensuring Americans gain the skills and experience they need in order to gain the employment they desire and so that employers have the skilled workforce they need. The Department of Labor in a Trump Administration should ensure that bridge-building opportunities are available for workers through the use of social enterprises and national service as well as incentivize connecting the post-secondary and workforce systems to reward the teaching and development of the in-demand skills needed in our economy.
Previous Article Two opportunities for PFS to add value to federal programs December 1, 2016 < Next Article A Look Back At America Forward On The 2016 Campaign Trail December 1, 2016 >

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