Legislative Update: Congress Introduces Stimulus Bill with $1 Billion for CTE

Today, Congress introduced a bill that would provide $15 billion for workforce development and Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. Read below to learn more about what is in this legislation, as well as information that the U.S. Department of Education provided this week in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). 

Congress Introduces Stimulus Proposal for Career Technical Education

Today, Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act as the next Coronavirus stimulus package. This bill focuses on supporting CTE and workforce development programs as a result of the pandemic with a $15 billion investment that includes $1 billion to support CTE programs and activities, as well as $2 billion to re-implement the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program. Advance CTE is pleased to support this bill. 

The legislation includes the following proposals tied to the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V): 

  • Offers flexibility at the state and local levels during the pandemic around retention of funds, so that any funds not used during the 2019-2020 academic year because of Coronavirus can be retained instead of returned to the state for redistribution. 
  • Provides flexibility for local Perkins recipients to pool funds in order to support secondary to postsecondary or employment transitions for CTE students whose academic year was altered due to the pandemic. 
  • Waives some of the professional development requirements during the pandemic. 
  • Authorizes $1 billion for CTE programs and activities, such as digital and physical infrastructure, virtual academic and work-based learning, restocking supplies that were donated to Coronavirus response efforts, work-based learning supports and subsidies for students and employers and ensuring programs are responsive to updated comprehensive needs assessments as a result Coronavirus. 

The bill also addresses activities in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) that require new supports due to Coronavirus, including but not limited to: 

  • $2 billion for community college and industry partnership grants by restarting the TAACCCT grant program. 
  • $250 million to support YouthBuild grantees and increase capacity during the pandemic. This would also include flexibilities for use of funds administrative costs, expanded eligibility to those who turned 25 during Coronavirus and increase the length of enrollment during the pandemic. 
  • $350 million for reentry employment opportunities for justice-involved youth, young adults, formerly incarcerated adults and former offenders during and after Coronavirus. 
  • Expanding the eligibility of adult and youth dislocated workers to include those eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Allows all eligible individuals to obtain personalized career services- such as individual employment plans, counseling, career planning and financial literacy training. 
  • Increasing the percent of funds that local workforce boards can use for incumbent worker training to 40 percent. 
  • Providing Governor the ability to reserve an additional 10 percent of funds for areas in their state most impacted by the pandemic. 
  • States must supplement their workforce plans with information about how additional funds will be used for a workforce development strategy that is responsive to the pandemic. 

You can view the press release from Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) here. You can let your representative know that you support including CTE in the next Coronavirus relief bill by following the quick prompt here. The full bill can be viewed here and a summary of each section here

ED Announces $300 million for New Education Stabilization Fund Grants

This week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) issued guidance on implementing the Education Stabilization Fund, a $300.7 million fund included as one percent of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act- the third stimulus package that was signed in response to the pandemic. This funding is divided between two competitive grants that prioritize states with the highest Coronavirus burden.

  • Education Stabilization Fund-Rethink K-12 Education Models Grants (ESF-REM)
    • Supports State Educational Agencies (SEAs) in states with the highest coronavirus burden to address needs for students, their parents and teachers of elementary and secondary schools.
    • A notice inviting applications can be found here.
  • Education Stabilization Fund-Reimagining Workforce Preparation Grants (ESF-RWP) 
    • Provides funding to support states in creating new programs and pathways, including short-term educational opportunities.
    • A description of the program can be viewed here.
    • A notice inviting applications can be found here.

ED Adds Fact Sheet on Repurposing Equipment and Supplies for Coronavirus

Yesterday, the Department issued a fact sheet that clarified the Department’s position of the ability of grantees and subgrantees to donate or repurpose equipment and supplies that were purchased with Federal grant funds to combat the impact of Coronavirus.. The fact sheet says that yes, this is allowed.

Grantees and subgrantees must keep certain records for three years regarding the repurposing or donation made such as itemizing the supplies being repurposed and the source of federal funds used for the purchase. Additional details, rationale and requirements for the decision are included in the fact sheet, for example the specification that the repurposing should only be done for supplies that are “not currently in use to carry out a grant program to meet the general education needs of students.” 

The Department indicated that this is a temporary authority during the Coronavirus national emergency. 

Department Directs Additional Funding to Minority Serving Institutions

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that $1.4 billion of funding will be allocated to Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs) and colleges that serve low-income students. This funding will be used to ensure that students can continue their education during Coronavirus. 

This funding is through the Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund authorized in the CARES Act. Funds can be used for distance learning technology, grants for eligible student attendance, faculty and staff training and operational costs.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Samuel Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

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