Braiding Funding in Career Pathways Supports CTE Without Limits

January 25th, 2022

Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits) calls on leaders to build a cohesive, flexible and responsive career preparation ecosystem and work across systems to align funding streams and resources. One initiative Advance CTE is supporting to advance this work is the New Skills ready network, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. funded initiative, which draws on cross-sector partnerships in six cities, each composed of state, regional and local partners. This work of building sustainable, equitable career pathways systems at each level requires braiding funding and other resources by combining or leveraging funding streams to share costs for employees, equipment or systems outright between entities. As gaps continue to widen between well-resourced and under-resourced communities and institutions, state and local leaders should identify opportunities for flexible funding streams, target new sources of funding and resources and build upon and leverage partnerships to ensure that funding and resources go to the learners that need them most. 

In support of this effort, Advance CTE recently published Braiding Funding to Support Equitable Career Pathways, which also includes key steps to effectively braiding funds and resources. Here are some examples of promising practices from states, how they align with CTE Without Limits and considerations states can take to implement this type of practice in their own state.

  • One foundation of CTE Without Limits is a commitment to meaningful public/private partnerships with industry partners deeply invested and involved in the design, delivery and success of the CTE system. Delaware leverages these types of partnerships and their connected funding streams through Delaware Pathways, which coordinates and organizes education and workforce development systems for youth and adult learners. Because this initiative brings together dozens of national, state and local partners, a named priority of the strategic plan is to coordinate financial support for career pathways and to braid funding to ensure long-term success. Recently, the state used ESSER funds braided with GEER and philanthropic funds to help launch a $15.8 million expansion called Delaware Pathways 2.0. The investment will reach 6,000 middle school learners and more than 12,000 additional secondary learners and specifically targets career pathways in health care, information technology, finance and engineering. As states consider long-term program sustainability, they can institutionalize this type of stakeholder engagement and partnership and create champions to carry work through periods of transition.
  • The first principle of CTE Without Limits calls for established shared, statewide goals for a cohesive career preparation ecosystem. Alabama aligned multiple agencies and initiatives around Governor Kay Ivey’s goals for education and workforce development. The Governor’s Office of Education and Workforce Development, the Alabama Department of Labor, the Alabama Workforce Council, and the Alabama Department of Education partner on and financially support multiple initiatives, including a statewide longitudinal data system and alignment around equity and access goals. Braiding funding and resources requires political will and support from leadership across the spectrum, including state and local administrators. This alignment was organized through legislative support and gubernatorial direction for initiatives that can affect the futures of all Alabamians. States can engage leaders at all levels to ensure consistency and credibility needed to achieve goals through a singular, coordinated effort.
  • Another action step of Principle One of CTE Without Limits is that leaders must design equitable funding models that direct funding to where it is needed most. Underutilized federal funds like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can be used to support adult education and workforce training programs. Arkansas uses SNAP and TANF funding in part to support its Career Pathways Initiative (CPI), which supports educational and workforce training while providing additional non-academic supports. The initiative requires coordination and support from the Arkansas Division of Higher Education (ADHE), the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services and the state’s 22 two-year colleges and three technical centers. ADHE directly allocates CPI funding to each of the institutions based on a formula of enrollment of students with low income, completion rates, credential attainment and employment outcomes. Since 2005, the Arkansas CPI has provided services to more than 30,000 qualifying students enrolled in career-oriented programs in community and technical colleges. With intentionality,  states can ensure that funding goes toward the populations who most need the support to address opportunity gaps and increase access.

This resource is the fourth policy brief in the Strengthening Career Pathways series. For more resources on funding and high-quality career pathways, please visit the Learning that Works Resource Center

Dan Hinderliter, Senior Policy Associate

Legislative Update: The Road Ahead for FY22, Guidance for Postsecondary and CTE included in Discretionary Grant Priorities

January 21st, 2022

Over the last two weeks Congress has continued to debate Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) appropriations as the Senate advances a key Career Technical Education (CTE) nominee out of committee. In addition, the U.S. Treasury Department (Treasury) issued a final rule for $350 billion in coronavirus pandemic aid to states and localities, while other federal agencies make important announcements related to broadband funding, updated guidance for postsecondary institutions, new discretionary grant priorities, and efforts to overhaul higher education regulations. 

Lawmakers Still Seeking a Path Forward on the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget

Last autumn, Congressional lawmakers were unable to find agreement on full-year funding for FY22 which began on October 1, 2021. Since that time, Congress has passed a series of short-term funding extensions of current fiscal year 2021 funding levels to continue federal government operations past this date. The most recent of these measures, known as a continuing resolution (CR), is set to expire on February 18. To avert a government shutdown and lapse in appropriations for programs like the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), lawmakers have continued to negotiate a longer-term funding package to cover the remainder of FY22.

Despite the need for full-year funding, the pathway forward for lawmakers to complete work on FY22 funding remains unclear. Last week the top four lawmakers in Congress responsible for appropriations formally met for the first time since last November. These appropriations leaders emerged from the meeting calling the talks “constructive” and striking a tentatively optimistic tone regarding the likelihood of a full-year FY22 funding bill. Rep. DeLauro (D-CT), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, briefed House Democrats this week on these talks, insisting that the current February 18 deadline is still the goal for wrapping up current negotiations. As these efforts get more fully underway, Advance CTE will continue to work with Congress to ensure that the FY22 appropriations process meets the significant funding needs of the CTE community.

Senate HELP Committee Advances CTE Nominee

Last Thursday, January 13, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee re-considered the nominations of several Biden Administration nominees, including Dr. Amy Loyd, to serve as the next Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office of Career, Adult, and Technical Education (OCTAE). While the HELP Committee approved Loyd similarly last year, the full Senate did not formally confirm her prior to the end of the first session of the current 117th Congress. As a consequence, President Biden was required to re-nominate Loyd for this position in the new year. Following a short discussion, the committee approved Loyd’s nomination by voice vote, advancing her for consideration by the full Senate sometime in the near future. Advance CTE has endorsed Dr. Loyd’s nomination and looks forward to a swift confirmation process later this year. 

Treasury Department Finalizes ARP Rule 

Earlier this month the Treasury Department announced that it had finalized and adopted a rule for implementing the American Rescue Plan’s (ARP) State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF). The $350 billion SLFRF provides financial support to state, local, and Tribal governments to help with their responses to the coronavirus pandemic. Among other eligible uses of these funds, recipients may use these resources for “responding to negative economic impacts,” caused by the public health crisis. In the final rule Treasury has made clear that workforce development activities for eligible individuals will be an eligible use of these funds. Earlier today, January 21, President Biden strongly emphasized this allowable use of funding to the nation’s Mayors, saying in part, “I urge every Mayor in America to  . . . use your [SLFRF resources] to build pathways to better jobs, through [apprenticeship programs] and on-the-job training . . . to give people in every zip code a chance to deal themselves into this booming economy.” The Department also enumerated several other potential eligible uses of these funds, including for K-12 schools, broadband connectivity, and early learning. The final rule goes into effect April 1, 2022 and can be viewed here. A related overview can be found here

ED Includes CTE in Discretionary Grant Priorities 

As we have shared previously, ED recently published the agency’s final supplemental priorities and definitions for discretionary grant programs in the Federal Register. These priorities will be used by ED to guide decisions regarding specific policy areas and related needs that will be prioritized as part of discretionary grant competitions in the future. Advance CTE submitted comments to the Department ahead of this announcement, requesting that CTE be more prominently embedded as part of these priorities. With regards to the ED’s second priority–  Promoting Equity in Student Access to Educational Resources and Opportunities– the Department has now included CTE as an important dimension for projects seeking to promote equitable access to educational opportunities. 

FCC Launches Seventh Wave of Emergency Connectivity Fund Commitments

Earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a seventh wave of funding commitments totaling over $361 million as part of the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). The $7.2 billion ECF program was authorized as part of the ARP passage last year and allows eligible schools and libraries to apply for financial support to purchase connected devices like laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connectivity to serve unmet needs of students, school staff, and library patrons at home during the ongoing pandemic. Securing initial funding for the ECF was one of Advance CTE’s top legislative priorities over the past year as a key way to respond to the Homework Gap. This round of commitments will support 802 schools, 49 libraries, and 8 consortia to receive nearly 654,000 internet-capable devices and over 313,000 broadband connections. More information on the announcement can be found here

ED Announces New Details for Negotiated Rulemaking

ED recently publicized plans for its next round of negotiated rulemaking to make changes to several rules governing programs authorized by the Higher Education Act. This round of negotiated rulemaking is intended to focus thematically on the issue of accountability within higher education. Over the next few months the Department hopes to address a number of issues in this space including gainful employment regulations, 90/10 calculations, and ability to benefit provisions among others. A full list of negotiators, related issue briefs, and other materials are available here. The first negotiation sessions began this week, with negotiators unanimously voting to add an additional civil rights representative to the panel while rejecting a proposal to add an additional negotiator slot for for-profit postsecondary institutions. 

ED Issues New HEERF Guidance and Makes New Funding Available 

On Thursday, January 20, ED published updated guidance for implementing and making use of Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF)– resources that were provided to postsecondary institutions as part of the ARP legislation to help support their recovery. The updated guidance clarifies several frequently asked questions including articulating additional uses of these funds and how best to support learners’ needs more holistically. The new guidance can be found here

At the same time as ED published this guidance, First Lady Jill Biden and U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona visited Bergen Community College in New Jersey to announce the availability of nearly $200 million in additional competitive funding for postsecondary institutions via HEERF. Community colleges and postsecondary institutions in rural areas that serve high percentages of low-income learners and have experienced declines in enrollment will be given priority for this latest tranche of funding. Institutions applying for these resources are encouraged to address students’ basic needs, particularly in ways aligned to the new guidance noted above, to reduce barriers to success for more learners.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Getting to Know Advance CTE and State Technical Assistance

January 20th, 2022

The “Getting to Know” blog series will feature the work of State CTE Directors, state and federal policies, innovative programs and new initiatives from the Advance CTE staff. Learn more about each one of these topics and the unique contributions to advancing Career Technical Education (CTE) that Advance CTE’s members work on every day.

Meet Nithya Govindasamy! Nithya is a Senior Advisor at Advance CTE; she recently joined the organization in October 2021. Nithya leads and manages major organization-wide, highly visible initiatives that support, promote and increase equitable access to and success in high-quality CTE, which includes: workforce development, education and equity initiatives; technical assistance (TA) for Without Limits: A Shared Vision for the Future of Career Technical Education (CTE Without Limits); efforts to maximize the stimulus investments; and Advance CTE’s external equity strategy. 

In this month’s edition of the CTEWorks Newsletter, we share resources, tools and supports to foster continuous improvement and collaboration among stakeholders in the career preparation ecosystem. This work includes the TA Advance CTE will deliver to states implementing CTE Without Limits. Learn more in the interview with Nithya below: 

Q: How does the shared vision, CTE Without Limits, promote the value of collaboration, equity and innovation in states? 

A: CTE Without Limits lays out a bold vision for a cohesive, flexible, and responsive career preparation ecosystem that will close equity gaps in educational outcomes and workforce readiness, and leverage CTE to ensure that every learner can reach success in the career of their choice. 

The five inter-connected and equally critical principles call for our education and workforce system to collaborate and leverage their assets and take an innovative approach to ensuring that the learner can achieve career success. 

Q: What are the benefits of statewide structures that increase collaboration and coordination across K-12, postsecondary and workforce development to support a career preparation ecosystem?

A: States that invest in structures and systems to increase strategic collaboration and coordination across the K-12, postsecondary and workforce development continuum will be able to better serve the needs of each learner and the employer community. 

Each partner within the statewide structure serves a unique role in the career preparation ecosystem and greater connectivity means learners can access the support they need at any of the entry points. Collaboration between the education and workforce system also provides an avenue for industry to connect with future talent in a systematic way. Statewide structures that build these meaningful interconnections can benefit by accessing additional non-traditional funding and resources that are targeted towards incentivizing collaboration and establishing and meeting aligned goals.  

As a benefit all CTE leaders across the 50 states and territories, Advance CTE shares best practices and policy innovations from exemplar states (and partnering organizations) that have successfully embraced collaboration and partnerships, coordinated services, and support to benefit each learner (especially those from historically marginalized populations).

Q: As the organization begins to provide technical assistance to the cohort of states, what are the objectives and goals that Advance CTE hopes to achieve? 

A: Advance CTE hopes to assist states and our members to advance and implement the principles in CTE Without Limits within their state. Our goal is to support states, and their cross-sector teams, to bridge gaps in their systems to ensure all learners have equitable access to and can benefit from high-quality CTE. Through the community of practice that will be launched this February, we hope to identify and lift up best practices among states and inspire leaders and practitioners to take bold actions to design and implement a new career preparation ecosystem that is learner-focused and can offer endless opportunities.   

Q: How will the TA help build capacity within states to develop and strengthen their cohesive, flexible and responsive career preparation ecosystems?

A: The TA delivered will provide states an opportunity to engage in a deeper needs assessment that will identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as well as the root causes for gaps and barriers that exist in their current systems. Each state will have access to a dedicated coach as part of this initiative who will work with the state team to develop a strategic and solutions-oriented plan to address the specific needs and priorities expressed by each state. 

Q: Are there resources and supports for state and local leaders outside of the TA cohort who are beginning to implement the principles outlined in CTE Without Limits

A: Yes! The community of practice that will be part of this initiative will be open to all states and not just the TA cohort states. The community of practice will be a great opportunity for states to engage in discussion with other states about how they are tackling various components within the vision as well as learn from fellow members. Advance CTE will also continue to host webinars and post blogs that will focus on CTE Without Limits and share strategies and approaches with state leaders to help implement vision principles broadly across systems. States can also reach me directly at ngovindasamy@careertech.org if there’s a need for specific guidance or assistance.

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate Digital Media

Coronavirus Relief Funds: Challenges and Missed Opportunities in Leveraging Federal Funds for CTE

January 19th, 2022

This blog series examines trends in state uses of federal stimulus funding for Career Technical Education (CTE). Stimulus funds were appropriated for emergency relief related to the coronavirus pandemic through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act; the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA); and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act. The five major stimulus funding streams for states and educational institutions include the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), and Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.

Federal coronavirus relief funds provide a critical avenue for states to invest in equitable, high-quality CTE programs to help learners and workers recover from the economic disruption caused by the pandemic. Although many states have successfully leveraged these funds to introduce or expand initiatives related to CTE, there have also been various challenges and missed opportunities in relief spending. 

Missed Opportunities

Based on Advance CTE’s analysis of spending trends, states generally placed a disproportionate emphasis on short-term postsecondary education and workforce development initiatives over long-term pipeline programs and opportunities at the secondary level. Many states did not mention CTE in their ESSER plans, which address elementary and secondary funding, and several others made only passing references to CTE and did not include specific funding commitments. 

Additionally, there has been a general lack of investment in addressing the significant educator shortages that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. While many states mentioned these shortages in their funding plans, few explicitly committed to allocate federal relief funds toward systemically addressing these shortages. Indiana is one state that took a longer-term approach to strengthening educator pipelines by using ESSER funds to create grow-your-own “teacher cadet” programs targeted at attracting underrepresented candidates into the teaching profession while still in high school. By creating pathways for future educators at the secondary level, Indiana is taking a systemic approach to addressing its identified educator shortage.

Challenges

From what Advance CTE has learned in interviews with State CTE Directors, it seems that many of the problems that have arisen in directing federal funding toward CTE results from the short deadlines for submitting relief spending plans to the federal government and spending the funds states receive. Many states do not feel that they have enough time to coordinate with all relevant state agencies and solicit input from stakeholders. If the necessary infrastructure for rapid cross-system collaboration was not already in place, states found it much more difficult to share information and ideas with partners in time to meet early deadlines. While the latest round of ESSER and Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds must be obligated by September 2024, GEER funds must be obligated by 2023.

Further, federal relief funds are limited and consist of a one-time infusion of dollars into education and workforce systems. Many states feel that they do not have the money in their own budgets to sustain continuous investments that may be necessary to maintain new programs and initiatives. These challenges ultimately obstruct innovative, long-term strategizing.

Looking Ahead

State Directors have highlighted various priorities in federal relief spending moving forward. First, many have identified a continual need for more intentional programming and wraparound support for learners in rural areas. These learners often lack access to high-quality CTE program options and broadband internet, both of which are more important now than ever as the pandemic re-shapes labor market demand and program delivery models.

Additionally, State Directors have identified work-based learning and career advising as two key priorities in mitigating the long-term impacts of the pandemic on learner preparation and engagement. These will be especially important from an equity perspective to address opportunity gaps and ensure that each learner has the experience and supports they need to succeed. 

Looking ahead, coronavirus relief funds continue to provide states a vital opportunity to invest in CTE and career pathways. These funds can act as a springboard for addressing systemic barriers to learner and worker success by providing initial investments for longer-term pipeline initiatives. Most importantly, states can leverage funds to not only mitigate the impacts of the pandemic, but to adapt to new labor market realities, innovate, and build stronger education and workforce systems that meet the needs of every individual they serve.

To learn more about how states have spent federal relief funds on CTE, check out the Coronavirus Relief Funds blog series and visit Advance CTE’s coronavirus resource page for additional resources.

Allie Pearce, Graduate Fellow

Recommendations for State CTE Leaders: The Impact and Promise of the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment

January 13th, 2022

Advance CTE was a fierce advocate for the inclusion of the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA) in the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). By law, the CLNA is called to support data-driven decisionmaking and more closely align planning, spending and accountability activities under Perkins V. At that time,  Advance CTE released a guide to help states identify the major decision points that would impact the design, development and implementation of their CLNA and related local needs application.

Now that we are nearing the end of the first two-years of the CLNA  and as states begin to ramp up their second process, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) interviewed state and local Career Technical Education (CTE) leaders to identify exemplar states and their journey through implementation. Lessons in Collaboration and Innovation: The Impact and Promise of the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment presents findings on state successes, challenges and recommended refinements. 

In the months ahead Advance CTE will continue to provide states with technical assistance, state resources and other ongoing supports. Today, Advance CTE and ACTE released the below recommendations for state CTE leaders as they begin to update their CLNA processes.

  • Recommendation: Fully Commit to Putting Equity at the Center of the CLNA
    One of the most powerful benefits of the CLNA is the ability to identify access and performance gaps across learner populations, enabling CTE programs to better serve special populations and historically marginalized learners and break down inequities. Advance CTE’s Making Good on the Promise series defines the key challenges these learners face today and provides promising solutions.
  • Recommendation: Continue to Invest in Data Capacity
    High-quality data — and the ability to read and understand data — is the backbone of a robust CLNA process. Advance CTE’s Career Readiness Data Quality and Use Policy Benchmark Tool describes six core elements of a high-quality career readiness data ecosystem and highlights recommended actions state leaders can take to improve the quality and effective use of career readiness data across education levels.
  • Recommendation: Support Local Stakeholder Engagement
    One area for improvement identified by state and local leaders is the depth and breadth of stakeholders engaged. Advance CTE and ACTE recently published tips on engaging learners in With Learners, Not for Learners: A Toolkit for Elevating Learner Voice in CTE and earlier released relevant resources to support the engagement of representatives of learners with special population status and industry partners
  • Recommendation: Plan Ahead to Ease Capacity and Timing Burdens
    State leaders can help local recipients with this lift by aligning the CLNA, as much as possible, across the secondary and postsecondary levels and with other required activities, while also building in opportunities to update the CLNA when needed.
  • Recommendation: Balance a Focus on Process with a Focus on Progress
    As the process becomes more established in states and local areas over time, state leaders and local recipients should also be attentive to progress toward the goal of improved alignment to needs and improved programs and services for learners.
  • Recommendation: Frame the CLNA as an Opportunity
    To encourage local recipients, state leaders should frame the CLNA as an opportunity, rather than merely a compliance exercise. This will require thoughtful communications, messaging and outreach efforts. 

View the full resource and other CLNA state supports in our Learning that Works Resource Center.

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate Digital Media

Legislative Update: Congress Returns With Funding Deadline Looming

January 7th, 2022

The Senate returned to a snow-covered Capitol Hill this week, while the House is due to return next week. By mid next month, lawmakers must once again act on FY22 appropriations along with a slew of other agenda items for 2022. In addition, federal agencies have unveiled new broadband connectivity efforts, updated equity requirements for educational aid provided last year, and sought to address bus driver shortages plaguing school districts across the nation.

Congress Returns With Funding Deadline Looming

Earlier this week, the Senate formally reconvened to begin the second session of the 117th Congress. The House is scheduled to follow suit next Monday, January 10. As lawmakers return to Capitol Hill this week and next, they will be confronted with a number of important agenda items, including determining a path forward for Democrats’ domestic spending package, known as the Build Back Better Act (BBBA). However, first among these is the fast-approaching date of February 18, which is when funding for the current 2022 federal fiscal year (FY22) is set to expire. Last year, Congress enacted a short-term extension of FY21 funding levels to keep the federal government open and related federal programs funded. This extension was intended to provide lawmakers additional time to find agreement on a full-year FY22 funding bill, which would last through September 30 of this year. As these efforts get underway, Advance CTE will continue to advocate for the significant funding needs of the Career Technical Education (CTE) community. 

FCC Launches New Connectivity Program and Grants New Waiver Flexibilities

On December 31, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officially launched the Affordable Connectivity Program—an initiative authorized by the recently enacted bipartisan infrastructure legislation (known also as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act). The program allots $14.2 billion in supplementary funding for eligible individuals to acquire subsidies for internet service bills and one-time discounts for certain internet capable devices. More on the announcement can be found here.

In addition to these efforts, the FCC also issued an order on Tuesday, responding to seven requests to waive the Emergency Connectivity Fund’s (ECF) $400 cap for the purchasing of connected devices. The $7.2 billion ECF program was authorized as part of the American Rescue Plan and was a key Advance CTE legislative priority to help respond to the “homework gap.” The ECF allows eligible schools and libraries to apply for financial support to purchase connected devices like laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connectivity to serve unmet needs of students, school staff, and library patrons at home during the ongoing pandemic. This week’s order granted five out of the seven requested waivers capping the allowable cost of these devices. 

ED Unveils New Proposed MOEq Requirements

On Monday,  the U.S. Department of Education (ED) published updates to requirements for states and local school districts regarding the implementation of “Maintenance of Equity” (MOEq) provisions contained in the American Rescue Plan (ARP). This announcement follows earlier guidance from USED on this topic. Published in the Federal Register, the proposal details a series of new reporting requirements that states and school districts would need to complete by December 31, 2022. The Department is seeking feedback from the public on this proposal and comments are due to the Department by February 2, 2022. Additional information on the announcement can be found here.

School Bus Driver Certification Waivers Announced

Also on Tuesday, ED and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a series of actions to address the nation’s ongoing shortage of school bus drivers. Among these planned responses, ED and USDOT jointly committed to waiving certain requirements from commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) to reduce the entry requirements to train new bus drivers. The waiver took effect Monday, January 3, and is set to expire March 31 of this year. Bus operators receiving a CDL under this temporary waiver will only be permitted to work within a single state. More information regarding this announcement can be found here.

ED Approves Last Round of State ARP Plans

The American Rescue Plan (ARP), passed last spring, authorized $122 billion in additional pandemic aid funding to be disbursed to K-12 schools over the last year. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) distributed two-thirds of this funding to states via a formula detailed in the legislation during 2021. However, ED held back the remaining third of these funds until states and territories submitted plans detailing how they would make use of these resources to support students as they recover from the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last few weeks in December, the Department approved the remaining state ARP plans that were awaiting review by ED, including those for Florida, Mississippi, and Vermont. All state ARP plans, including highlights and related press releases, can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

Coronavirus Relief Funds: States Leverage Federal Funds to Provide Re-Skilling, Up-Skilling, and Job Training for Displaced Workers

January 5th, 2022

This blog series examines trends in state uses of federal stimulus funding for Career Technical Education (CTE). Stimulus funds were appropriated for emergency relief related to the coronavirus pandemic through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act; the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA); and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act. The five major stimulus funding streams for states and educational institutions include the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), and Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.

During a time of mass economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, preparing displaced workers and learners for high-quality, long-term job opportunities is essential to close the skills gap and address shifting labor market demands. Job and income losses resulting from the pandemic have disproportionately impacted women, Black and Latinx workers, and low-wage and non-college educated workers. These populations will be key to target with federal coronavirus relief funds. 

Some states are already investing federal funds in establishing and expanding credential and training programs to address critical skills shortages and build a highly-skilled, resilient workforce for the future. South Dakota invested $2.2 million in GEER funding to launch UpSkill, a program to support workers displaced by the pandemic through 24 fully- or partially-funded certificate programs within the state’s four technical colleges. There is a clear pathway for participants to earn an Associate of Applied Science or bachelor’s degree, and the programs are offered in virtual, in-person or hybrid modalities and aligned with labor market demand.

Similarly, Delaware leveraged $10 million of the state’s CRF allocation to create the Rapid Workforce Training and Redeployment Initiative, which creates a process for establishing fully-funded training and certification programs for individuals who are unemployed or underemployed. These programs, developed by the Delaware Workforce Development Board in consultation with the state Department of Labor, will provide necessary skills for in-demand occupations and connect learners to employers and open opportunities in the state labor market.

Finally, Texas created new and innovative credential programs. The state used GEER to fund $25 million in Texas Reskilling and Upskilling for Education (TRUE) Institutional Capacity Grants for community, state and technical colleges to support efforts to create, expand or redesign high-value postsecondary workforce credential programs. Proposed programs must be under six months long, aligned to industry needs, and developed alongside key stakeholders to qualify for these competitively-awarded grants. Texas also focused on re-engaging learners through a $46.5 million GEER allocation toward financial aid for individuals enrolled in programs centered on up-skilling or re-skilling displaced workers for in-demand fields. The initiative targets learners who have earned some college credit to ensure that they remain on track to attain a postsecondary credential.

These state efforts will ensure that displaced workers and learners who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic can connect with meaningful CTE opportunities and career pathways. What is notable about these initiatives is that they not only connect displaced workers with job opportunities, addressing immediate unemployment concerns, but help workers access better opportunities that are in demand and offer high wages. By strategically investing federal relief funds to build and scale short-term training programs that are driven by labor market demand, states can leverage the current crisis to build a stronger workforce and more economic opportunity for the future. Coronavirus relief funds continue to provide a valuable means of investment in establishing and expanding high-quality CTE programs for long-term learner success in a continually shifting labor market.

To learn more about how states have spent federal relief funds on CTE, please stay tuned for future Coronavirus Relief Funds blog posts and visit Advance CTE’s coronavirus resource page for additional resources.

Allie Pearce, Graduate Fellow

Getting to Know the Advance CTE – ECMCF Fellows

January 4th, 2022

In November, Advance CTE and ECMC Foundation announced the inaugural cohort of The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation. The Advance CTE – ECMCF Fellows include representation across multiple demographic categories which emphasizes the Fellowship’s goal of intentionally building a postsecondary leadership pipeline for underserved populations in CTE that closes racial representation gaps, and removes equity barriers to postsecondary leadership advancement. 

Over the next few months, this blog series will introduce each Fellow participating in the inaugural cohort of emerging leaders from 12 states, including 13 professionals of color.


 

Donald Walker (Michigan) has over three decades of experience in broadcast and digital media production and education, and currently serves as Director of Multimedia at the Detroit School of Arts in Detroit, Michigan. He earned multiple credentials from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts, a bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Detroit-Mercy and a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix.

 

 

 

Heather Covington (North Carolina) began her CTE journey as a National Board Certified business and marketing instructor and career development coordinator, and currently serves as Assistant Principal at Alston Ridge Middle School in Cary, North Carolina. She is a first-generation graduate with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Information Technology and Business Education  from East Carolina University, an Education specialist degree from Old Dominion University, and  two master’s degrees in Instructional Technology and School Administration from North Carolina State University and University of North Carolina, respectively. 

 

Janelle Washington (Illinois) previously held multiple positions in the criminal justice system prior to pursuing a career in higher education, and currently serves as a Director for Career and Technical Education at the Illinois Community College Board. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and master’s degrees in Public Administration and College Student Personnel Administration from University of Illinois Springfield and Illinois State University, respectively.

 

 


Click here to learn more about the Fellowship and each Fellow.

Brittany Cannady, Senior Associate Digital Media 

 

Welcome Candace Williams to Advance CTE!

December 21st, 2021

My name is Candace Williams and I’m thrilled to be joining the talented team at Advance CTE! In my role as Senior Research Associate, I’ll be supporting Advance CTE’s data quality and research initiatives. I’ll be working on a number of projects, including the Postsecondary Data Initiative, the Credit for Prior Learning Shared Solutions Working Group, and a forthcoming study on state Career Technical Education (CTE) funding. 

I’ve long been passionate about data-driven policymaking. I attended Northeastern University, where I earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in applied economics, and pursued my interests in labor economics and the role of government in human capital development. Following my studies, I worked as a legislative aide in the Massachusetts state senate and received hands-on learning on how legislators make policy decisions and act on behalf of their constituents. After spending a full legislative session as an aide, I made the leap to work on postsecondary education policy and research at the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE). In my five years with NEBHE, I had the fortune of finding my niche in supporting state policymakers, higher education and workforce development leaders, and employers in their efforts to increase access to and completion of high-quality, equitable postsecondary education. I led multi-state, grant-funded projects on issues such as credential transparency, recognition of learning, upskilling, employability and micro-credentialing. I’m excited to contribute my experience in the postsecondary education space to support learners reach their education and career goals through CTE.

I’m a native of midcoast Maine and after over ten years of living in Boston, I recently moved to New Hampshire (mostly so that we could get a dog). Outside of work, I keep busy exploring the Seacoast region with my husband and pup, dreaming up renovation projects for our old house, attempting to read every New Yorker issue and being involved in local/state politics. 

Candace Williams, Senior Research Associate 

Legislative Update: Congress Increases Nation’s Debt Limit

December 17th, 2021

This week Congress formally raised the nation’s borrowing authority while Congressional Democrats have continued to struggle to advance a forthcoming domestic spending package, known as the Build Back Better Act (BBBA), before the end of the year. Lawmakers are expected to recess soon for the remainder of the year and are expected to return in early January 2022.  

Congress Increases Nation’s Debt Limit

On Thursday, December 16, President Biden signed legislation to increase the nation’s borrowing authority, known as the “debt ceiling,” by $2.5 trillion. As a reminder, the debt ceiling is the total allowable amount that the federal government is legally permitted to borrow to pay for expenses already incurred. This increase is expected to provide sufficient borrowing authority until sometime in 2023. Congressional Republicans had been withholding their support for further action on this issue, arguing that Democrats should simply pass the measure without their support. However, this would not be possible given the Senate’s required 60 vote threshold to pass legislation capable of withstanding a filibuster.

Late last week, lawmakers reached an agreement to exempt the debt limit extension from the Senate’s filibuster rules, allowing for passage in the chamber without Republican support. Lawmakers crafted a narrow, bipartisan legislative package that temporarily suspended the Senate’s filibuster authority for a single bill that would increase the nation’s borrowing limit by this agreed upon amount. Using this procedural maneuver, Senators were able to clear the bill by a majority vote. On Tuesday, December 14, the Senate (50-49) and the House (221-209) passed a $2.5 trillion dollar debt limit increase and President Biden subsequently signed it into law later this week.

BBBA Negotiations Continue

Democratic lawmakers are continuing to negotiate the president’s $1.75 trillion Build Back Better Act (BBBA). Congressional Democrats hope to pass this legislation via the Congressional budget reconciliation process which allows certain legislation to pass by simple majorities in both chambers of Congress, thus circumventing a likely Republican filibuster in the Senate. The legislation would provide significant new investments for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), including $600 million for the law’s basic state formula grant program, $100 million for its Innovation and Modernization competitive funding stream and a slew of other Career Technical Education (CTE) and workforce development investments of interest to the CTE community. 

Over the weekend, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee posted new text of the BBBA ahead of discussions with the chamber’s parliamentarian that have continued throughout the week. Discussions with the parliamentarian process are a formal process used to determine which provisions may, or may not, be included in the BBBA to align with Congress’ budget reconciliation process. However, opposition from Senator Joe Manchin (R-WV) has remained a key obstacle to the bill’s passage. As this delay continues, it is increasingly likely that the Senate will recess for the holidays for the remainder of the month of December and resume consideration of the BBBA when Senators return to Capitol Hill on January 3, 2022. President Biden has, more recently, conceded that Democrats are unlikely to pass the BBBA prior to the end of the year and has said he is still committed to passing the bill through the Senate “as early as possible.” 

ED Announces New Innovation and Research Grants

On Monday the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced $182 million in new grant awards for 30 school districts, institutions of higher education, and other entities to participate in the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program. Authorized as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the EIR program is intended to provide funding to create, develop, and otherwise implement evidence-based and innovative approaches to improving student achievement and attainment. The full list of grantees can be found here

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 

 

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