Issue 526 - March 23, 2017

OCTAE Newsletter

March 23, 2017

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Attends Signing of Bills Encouraging Women to Join STEM Professions

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was among those present at the recent signing of two bills—the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act and the Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act. The new laws are intended to encourage women t o follow careers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) professions in order to help alleviate the gap of women in these fields, and promote the nation’s global competitiveness. 

The first bill, Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act, authorizes the National Science Foundation to support entrepreneurial programs aimed at women. And the second, INSPIRE Women Act, directs NASA to encourage women and girls to study STEM and pursue careers in aerospace to advance the nation’s space exploration efforts.

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Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Providers Serving Individuals with Disabilities: New Resources

A suite of new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) resources are posted on the Disability and Employment Community of Practice on the Department of Labor’s Workforce GPS technical assistance site.  The Playlists: Disability Resources for WIOA Practitioners are organized as an online learning portal for public workforce-system staff and partners, community-based organizations, grantees, the business sector, and others who provide services and programs to people with disabilities and/or who have other challenges to finding employment. 

Providing high-quality services to individuals with disabilities is a critical goal of WIOA partners and practitioners. These playlists help to fulfill this important goal by offering a wealth of technical assistance resources. Each playlist is a carefully selected set of links to resources, such as tool kits, reports, online courses, and videos, on a specific topic related to improving service to individuals with disabilities. 

To learn more, please access each playlist below.

  • Playlist 1: Guidance for WIOA Programs, Service Providers, and Practitioners Working With Individuals With Disabilities

  • Playlist 2: Including Individuals With Disabilities in Outreach and Recruitment

  • Playlist 3: Disability Etiquette—Effective Communication With Individuals With Disabilities

  • Playlist 4: Physical Access for Individuals With Disabilities

  • Playlist 5: Technology Access for Individuals With Disabilities

  • Playlist 6: Employer Engagement Strategies to Recruit and Retain Individuals With Disabilities

  • Playlist 7: Individuals With Disabilities—Partnerships to Support Education, Training, and Employment

  • Playlist 8: Legislation Relevant to Individuals With Disabilities

  • Playlist 9: Guidance for Employers and WIOA-Related Service Providers Working With Students With Disabilities

  • Playlist 10: Guidance for Employers and WIOA-Related Service Providers Working With Veterans With Disabilities

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Rock and a Hard Place: HBO Documentary Features OCTAE Reentry Education Grantee

The Improved Reentry Education grant program, managed by OCTAE’s Office of Correctional Education, is in its second of three years, with nine grantees operating across the country to deliver a range of correctional education services and options for participants. One of the grantees, the Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation Department, operates a 16-month boot camp program—an intensive and highly structured paramilitary rehabilitation program for sentenced and adjudicated individuals between the ages of 18 and 24. Through this grant, Miami-Dade County is bringing together a network of education, training, and employment services for individuals who complete the boot camp and reintegrate with society.                                                      

It was recently announced that HBO is releasing a documentary focused on the young people who participate in this program and the second chances that the program affords them. The show, Rock and a Hard Place, debuts on Monday, March 27, at 10 p.m. ET and will be available on demand shortly thereafter. 

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The Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment 2017 Conference

After six years of hard work researching the connection between postsecondary education and the labor market, the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE), an NCER-funded research and development center, is ready to share its findings with all interested researchers, policy makers, and college advocates. You can get an overview of CAPSEE’s work here,, on such topics as estimating returns on a broad set of postsecondary credentials, the Federal Work Study program, and for-profit college. 

The 2017 CAPSEE Conference: Making the Right Investments in College will be held April 6–7, at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. The conference will include a combination of policy-relevant plenary sessions and breakout sessions with presentations and discussions of findings from CAPSEE’s research initiatives. It will address the following three main questions: 

  • Are students’ investments in programs and awards yielding rewards in the labor market?
  • Is the financial aid system helping students to succeed in college?
  • What college characteristics are associated with labor market success? 

You can learn more about all of the conference sessions here, 

Federal employees can register for the conference at the reduced rate of $75 (excluding meals). 

Please feel free to forward this information to others within and outside of the federal government who are interested in the connection between postsecondary education and the labor market. 

If you have any questions about the conference, or if you need additional information for potential registrants outside the federal government, please feel free to contact James Benson at ED’s National Center for Education Research by phone at 202-245-8333 or by email at

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The Strengthening Institutions Program is Now Open!

ED’s Strengthening Institutions Program is accepting applications for fiscal year 2017 now through April 17. According to the Federal Register announcement, “The Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP) provides grants to eligible institutions of higher education (IHEs) to help them become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen the institution’s academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability.  

“The Department of Education is conducting two separate competitions for SIP grants in 2017.  In competition 84.031F, applicants must address an absolute priority for moderate evidence of effectiveness. The separate competition under CFDA number 84.031A does not include any priorities. Each competition is announced in a separate Federal Register notice.  Applicants may apply for grants in both the 84.031A and 84.031F competitions but can only receive one grant.”

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