June 12, 2014
“My Brother’s Keeper: Task Force Report to the President,” the progress report of a task force designed to develop a coordinated federal plan to give lifelong support and opportunities to boys and young men of color, was released by the White House at the end of last month. According to the transmission letter to the president, signed by Broderick Johnson, assistant to the president and cabinet secretary and Jim Shelton, deputy secretary of education, over a three-month period the task force reviewed the existing data, research, and government policies and programs on the challenges facing young men of color. It also engaged thousands of individuals in listening sessions in their communities. The letter to the president states that the task force “approached this initiative as a mechanism to highlight and build on what works inside and outside of government for improving expected life outcomes of young people and removing barriers to their success.”
The report notes that for decades, “opportunity has lagged behind for boys and young men of color.” These populations continue to face “persistent challenges” that present an opportunity for the nation to do better. “Improving life prospects and outcomes for young people, including young men of color, is the right thing to do not just for those individuals, but for our economy as a whole.” Ways and means must be found to empower all children with the tools to succeed in every stage of their lives.
The report identifies six “key milestones” that are predictive of later success in life. Support is critical to ensure that the following milestones are met: “(1) entering school ready to learn,” (2) “reading at grade level by third grade,” (3) “graduating from high school ready for college and career,” (4) “completing postsecondary education or training,” (5) “successfully entering the workforce,” and (6) “reducing violence and providing a second chance.” The task force identifies recommendations and opportunities at each of these key milestones or “focus areas.”
In addition to identifying these six markers, the report also identifies several opportunities, or “cross-cutting recommendations” that span all focus areas. Briefly, the cross-cutting recommendations and areas of opportunity advocate (1) establishing national indicators after identifying the problems and tracking progress, (2) incentivizing learning and doing what works, (3) encouraging the efforts of local communities to provide comprehensive, cradle-to-college-and-career strategies, and (4) understanding and building upon the importance and efforts of parents and other adults in the lives of these children.
As the letter to the president points out, “This report is just a beginning. The challenges described in this report will not vanish overnight.” The government cannot do this work without the support of the entire nation.
In support of the Obama administration’s goal of leading the world in college completion rates by 2020, the departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services jointly released a Dear Colleague letter on their efforts to provide leaders in education, the workforce, social services, and the private sector with information on how high schools and human service agencies can work with the American Job Center network. This will connect students with the opportunities and information necessary to advance from high school to postsecondary education or training and make informed career decisions.
One of the most vital resources students can utilize in preparation for postsecondary options and careers is their school counselor. School counselors must have accurate and up-to-date information about the job market and the skills that employers demand in order to help young people achieve their dreams. However, a low school counselor to student ratio makes helping every student difficult. Partnerships between student support entities and American Job Centers can alleviate career counseling gaps by ensuring students have the skills to select the education and training they need based on current and relevant information, make informed career decisions, and find internships and employment that can lead to their dream jobs.
Applications Due Aug. 7, 2014
The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education, recently announced a grant competition under its Education Research Grants program. Entities providing and coordinating services for postsecondary education students and adult learners may wish to submit a research proposal under this funding opportunity.
The Education Research Grants program supports a range of researcher efforts to develop, improve, and evaluate education policies and programs. Research in postsecondary and adult education seeks to support better student education outcomes at the college level (students working on certificates, associate, or bachelor's degrees), and in adult education programs (adult English language programs; adult literacy programs, including adult basic education, adult secondary education; and GED preparation programs).
Under this research opportunity, IES is interested in “increasing student access to, persistence in, progress through, and completion of postsecondary and adult education programs as well as improving specific academic outcomes for students in developmental education, adult education, gateway science and math courses, and introductory composition courses.” Products under this program will offer tools and strategies, including practices, assessments, programs, and policies, that have been documented to improve education outcomes of adult learners and students.
According to the announcement, the primary outcomes for adult education learners are “student achievement in reading, writing, English language proficiency, and mathematics … as well as access to, persistence in, progress through, and completion of adult education courses and programs.”
For postsecondary education, the primary outcomes for students are “access to, persistence in, progress through, and completion of postsecondary education, which includes programs for students in developmental and bridge programs as well as programs that lead to occupational certificates, associate or bachelor’s degrees.”
Please access the funding announcement for detailed information on this grant competition, including research information, student criteria, how to apply and key deadlines.
Grant applications are due Aug. 7, 2014, by 4:30 p.m., ET.