Legislative Update: WIOA Hearing and Updates from ED


Legislative Update: WIOA Hearing and Updates from ED

This week, the House held a hearing on the reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Read below to learn more about what issues came up, as well as announcements from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on the release of higher education stimulus funds and more.
House Holds Hearing on WIOA Reauthorization and Youth Employment 
On Thursday the House Committee on Education and Labor’s Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment held a hearing on “WIOA Reauthorization: Creating Opportunities for Youth Employment.” The following witnesses provided testimony and then answered questions from committee members: 

  • Chekemma Fulmore-Townsend, President and CEO, Philadelphia Youth Network;
  • Thomas Showalter, Senior Advisor, National Youth Employment Coalition;
  • Deb Lindner, Human Resources, Precor; and
  • Byron Garrett, President and CEO, National Job Corps Association. 

In her opening statement, Subcommittee Chairman Frederica Wilson (D-FL) talked about the need to expand paid work-based learning opportunities, as well as the unintended consequences of the current split of funds between in-school youth and out-of-school youth. Representative Wilson shared how at times this allocation means that youth are not served until they are already disconnected. This is a sentiment that Advance CTE has heard from many, and a proposed new strategy for this funding formula is in the organization’s recommendations for WIOA reauthorization. Ranking Member Gregory Murphy (R-NC) called out the role Career Technical Education (CTE) plays in connecting youth to the workforce, as well as the importance of having employer voices at the table. 
Other common themes that came up throughout the hearing were the importance of professional development for those advising learners, the need for wraparound supports (such as childcare, and resources for food and housing insecurity), how to connect workforce and education partners, what successful outcomes look like and how they can be measured and how to serve communities that have been most impacted by the pandemic. 
Advance CTE’s recommendations for reauthorization of WIOA can be found here. A recording of the full hearing as well as member statements and witness testimonies can be found here
ED Announces 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars 
This week ED announced the 57th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars. The 161 high school seniors are recognized for accomplishments in academics, the arts and CTE. The 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars include two students from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large, 20 Scholars in the arts and 20 Scholars in CTE. 
The application and approval process is rigorous. A U.S. Presidential Scholar in CTE must be nominated by their Chief State School Officer (CSSO), who can nominate only five students. All candidates then complete an application that includes transcripts, a secondary school report, essays and self-assessments. Candidates are evaluated for academic achievement, character and leadership by a review committee of secondary and postsecondary education leaders. The review committee selects the semifinalists from this group. The remaining pool is assessed and the finalists are chosen by the Commission on Presidential Scholars, a group of independent individuals appointed by the President from across the country and spanning a range of professional backgrounds.
ED Launches Outreach Campaign for Monthly Broadband Discounts
ED launched an outreach campaign for millions of students who are eligible to receive a monthly discount on broadband internet service through a temporary program with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Households with a child who has received approval for benefits under the under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or the School Breakfast Program (SBP), including a child that attends a school participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years are now eligible for the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB Program). Pell Grant recipients also qualify for the FCC’s EBB Program to help pursue postsecondary education if they received their grant during the 2020-2021 award year.
The campaign is to inform these families and individuals that they are eligible for a discount of up to $50 per month. Eligible households on qualifying Tribal lands can receive a discount of up to $75 per month. Each participating household may also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 for one connected device—a laptop, desktop, or tablet computer—where available from a participating broadband provider, as long as the household contributes between $10 and $50 towards the cost of the device.
For questions about the EBB Program please visit GetEmergencyBroadband.org, call 833-511-0311, or email EBBHelp@usac.org.
ED Releases New Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds 
Written by Alisha Hyslop, Director of Public Policy, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Full post can be found here
On May 11, ED released approximately $36 billion in funding for higher education that had been provided through the American Rescue Plan Act (signed into law in March). The funds will be distributed through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund to public and nonprofit private institutions, and this allocation will be known as “HEERF III.” Notably, about $10 billion of the total is allocated to community colleges – making significant resources available that could be used to support CTE programs.
As required in the law, funds were allocated to each public and nonprofit private institution of higher education based on a formula heavily weighted toward institutions that serve large numbers of low-income students. The formula includes:

  • The institution’s total and full-time enrollment of Pell Grant recipients who were not enrolled exclusively in distance education prior to the pandemic (75% weight)
  • The institution’s total and full-time enrollment of students who are not Pell Grant recipients (23% weight) and were not enrolled exclusively in distance education prior to the pandemic
  • The number of students enrolled exclusively in distance education prior to the pandemic that received Pell Grants (2% weight).

A full list of allocations for each institution can be found here, and Inside Higher Education has developed a searchable database of funding amounts here. Funds will automatically be awarded to institutions that have already received a HEERF grant under a prior piece of legislation. New institutions that have not previously participated in the program must apply for funds through Grants.gov.
For the full blog with additional details click here
Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy