Legislative Update: More Perkins Plans Approved and New Grant Opportunity

This week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced more state plan approvals under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). Read below to learn more about which states have received approval, as well as a new workforce grant program, a proposed infrastructure bill and a new report on reimagining community colleges. 

ED Approves Four More Perkins Plans

Today the U.S. Department of Education approved four more state plans under Perkins V. The newly approved states are Arkansas, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee. Highlights by the department from each plan can be found here. In total, 35 plans have been approved so far. A full list of the states with approved plans, as well as links to the final plans and resources can be found here

ED Announces New Reimagine Workforce Preparation Grant Program

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced a new higher education grant program with the goal of supporting students in gaining new skills and expanding or reinventing businesses as a result of COVID-19 (coronavirus). This new opportunity, called the Reimagine Workforce Preparation Grant Program, is funded by the Education Stabilization Fund that was authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act- the third coronavirus stimulus bill that was signed into law in March. 

The State Workforce Board of each of the 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico are eligible to apply for this grant program. Applicants must show that a burden has been created by the pandemic, and propose an initiative that will support the community in one of two ways (language taken directly from the department’s announcement): 

  1. Expanding educational opportunities through short-term, career pathways or sector-based education and training programs
    • Grantees are invited to propose the development or expansion of short-term education programs, including career pathways programs, to help prepare unemployed or underemployed individuals for high demand jobs in their community or region; and/or
    • Grantees are invited to propose the development or expansion of industry sector-based education and training programs that lead to a credential that employers in a given sector recognize and reward; or
  2. Supporting local entrepreneurship through small business incubators
    • Grantees are invited to submit applications that help colleges and universities make their faculty, staff and facilities more accessible to small businesses in their communities, and to ensure that institutions can sustain their operations at a time when enrollments are declining and campus buildings may be underutilized, including through the creation of small business incubators that are on the campus of, or affiliated with, one or more colleges and universities in the state.

Applications must be submitted by August 24, 2020- at which time they will be evaluated by peer reviewers. Awards will be announced in October of 2020.  

House Introduces New Infrastructure Bill

House Democrats introduced the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2)- a $1.5 trillion bill that would repair and rebuild the country’s infrastructure. This wide reaching proposal covers a range of areas from road to schools to broadband access. The Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act is included in this legislation, and would invest $130 billion in high-poverty schools while also creating over two million jobs. The bill would also invest $100 billion into expanding broadband Internet access to every part of the country. 

A fact sheet of the bill can be found here and the full text here

Education Organizations Release New Report on Reimagining Community College

Advance CTE participated in a group of 22 educators and policy thinkers led by Opportunity America to release a new report, The Indispensable Institution: Reimagining Community College. The report outlines a roadmap for community colleges to find successful practices as  premier providers of efficient, career-focused education and training. Especially as the country rebuilds in the wake of coronavirus, community colleges are well positioned to provide the upskilling and reskilling that millions of Americans will need. You can find the report here.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

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