August 2020 Issue

Sign up for Nuestra Iniciativa

White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative


August 2020 Issue

" President Donald J. Trump firmly believes that educating our Nation’s children is a top priority. He has continually advocated for schools to safely reopen this fall to ensure our Nation’s children receive the best education and care. As the data shows, children are at an extremely low risk for serious illness or death from the coronavirus, far less than adults and even less than from seasonal influenza. Importantly, the harms to children and families of prolonged school closures are significant and long-lasting. Today, the Trump Administration put forth recommendations to guide schools toward a pathway of safe reopening while empowering families to make the best decisions for their children. Under President Trump’s leadership, children come first."

Statement from White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany (8/12/20) regarding the safe reopening of America’s schools.

Safely Reopening America's Schools

Reopening School White House Event

As schools begin to reopen across the country, the Administration continues to strongly support the resumption of in-person instruction.

On August 12, President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary DeVos, and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway welcomed a group of students, parents, teachers, school administrators, and healthcare professionals to the White House to discuss how best to get students back to school. In a “From the Desk of the Secretary” update, Secretary DeVos shared the story of Marsh, a four-year old diagnosed with Down syndrome. Marsh’s mom said his life is simply not the same without in-person learning.

After the event, the Administration issued recommendations to guide schools and families “toward a pathway of safe [school] reopening”.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidance for K-12 schools on using cloth face coverings and masks. The CDC released its July 24 media telebriefing on new science-based resources and tools for reopening schools safely for school administrators, teachers, parents, guardians, and caregivers. This latest guidance from the CDC continues to build upon their K-12 School Toolkit for reopening schools safely last updated on August 4. Deputy Secretary of Education Dr. Mitchell Zais joined CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield for the briefing. Deputy Secretary Zais also discussed reopening schools at the Texas Rural Education Association’s Virtual Summer Conference. “I know that people are nervous about going back to school,” the Deputy Secretary said. “But…the evidence—scientific, economic, and medical—supports opening schools in the fall.”

Per a White House Council of Economic Advisors article, “Reopening Schools is Key to Unlocking the Full Potential of America’s Children.”

In Indianapolis, the Vice President, the Secretary, and White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx participated in a roundtable discussion with Governor Eric Holcomb and stakeholders at Marian University. There, the Vice President said, “As President Trump reflected from the podium at the White House yesterday, we have confirmed of late the fact that students fall behind dramatically in education.  One study estimates that, due to school closures last spring, the average student is going to begin this year roughly 35 percent behind in reading, compared to a typical year, and 50 percent behind in math.  In fact, the National Education Association recently stated that online learning is no substitute for in-person learning.  And when you factor that our kids could fall behind academically, it’s also important to remember that there are real risks to our children’s wellbeing.”

Secretary DeVos spoke with Gov. Mike Huckabee on “The Ingraham Angle” to reinforce the Administration’s commitment to getting students back to full-time learning this fall and empowering parents with options to make that happen. In another interview, the Secretary asserted, “Parents and children can’t be held captive to others’ fears or agendas. We have got to get to a point in this country where we are supporting our families and focused on doing what is right for students. … We know it can be done safely, and for those teachers who may be vulnerable themselves, there are other things that can be done so that they can continue to contribute in a major way.”

Continued Student Loan Payment Relief During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Acting on President Trump's Presidential Memorandum signed August 8, Secretary DeVos directed Federal Student Aid (FSA) to extend the student loan relief to borrowers initiated by the President and Secretary in March 2020 through December 31, 2020.

All borrowers with federally held student loans will have their payments automatically suspended until 2021 without penalty. In addition, the interest rate on all federally held student loans will be set to 0% through the end of the calendar year. Borrowers will continue to have the option to make payments if they so choose. Doing so will allow borrowers to pay off their loans more quickly and at a lower cost.

Department Reaffirms Commitment to Protecting the Religious Liberty of Students and Religious Organizations

On Aug. 7, Secretary DeVos announced guidance to protect the religious liberty of individuals and institutions participating in Department of Education programs. This action is part of ongoing Department efforts to advance religious liberty protections and delivers on President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order 13798, “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty.”

This guidance follows recent Supreme Court victories for religious liberty. Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue and Trinity Lutheran v. Comer curtailed religious discrimination and, thus, strengthened protections for religious organizations.

The guidance was drafted pursuant to a Jan. 16, 2020, directive from the Office of Management and Budget requiring each agency to publish policies detailing how they will administer federal grants in compliance with E.O. 13798, as well as the Attorney General’s Oct. 6, 2017, memorandum on federal law protections for religious liberty.

Spotlight on School Choice

This month, Secretary DeVos made two announcements to support education choice for parents and students. The first is a $15 million grant competition to promote tribally directed education choice for Native American students. Accessing Choices in Education (ACE) grants will allow tribes – or other education entities partnering with tribes – to set up a variety of education options and services from which parents or students can choose.

Second, the Department announced it will award at least $85 million over the next five years for disadvantaged students from families with lower incomes in Washington, D.C., to attend private schools of their choice, under the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Updated COVID-19 Resources


The White House, the Department, and other federal agencies are continually releasing and updating information to support schools, educators, families, and students regarding COVID-19. In addition to the links below, please visit for the latest education-related information and address questions for the Department to

Cube Satellite Challenge

On August 18, advancing the Administration’s commitment to expand student interest in the booming science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, the Department launched CTE Mission: CubeSat, a national challenge to inspire students to build technical skills for careers in space and beyond. High school students nationwide are invited to design and build cube satellite (CubeSat) prototypes -- or satellites that aid in space research -- bringing space missions out of the clouds and into the classroom.

Schools interested in entering the challenge must form a team and submit a mission proposal by 5:59 p.m. Eastern Time on October 16 -- no in-person collaboration and/or prior experience with CubeSat is required. The online submission form asks for school information, a team profile, a project proposal, and anticipated learning outcomes. Curated educational resources are available to students and teachers online in the CTE Mission: CubeSat Resource Hub. To learn more, schools can join a virtual information session on September 1.

Virtual Conference for Rural Hispanic Serving Institutions

Central Arizona College and the SFAz Center for STEM at Arizona State University invite Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) to attend the Rural HSI Virtual Conference to be held September 23-25.

Administrators, faculty and staff who are actively engaged in STEM from rural two-year and four-year HSIs and emerging HSIs to participate in conversations about the common challenges, issues and potential solutions impacting rural STEM education and workforce development. Registration is now open.

President's Advisory Commission on Hispanic Prosperity Initial Meeting Notice

The initial meeting of the President’s Advisory Commission on Hispanic Prosperity will take place on Monday, August 31, 2020 from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

The meeting will be held virtually. Members of the public may register to obtain dial-in instructions. Due to technical constraints, registration is limited to 200 participants and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Members of the public may submit public comment via email to

New Grant Awards to Expand STEM-Focused Education Opportunities for Students at HSIs, HBCUs, MSIs

On August 10, Secretary DeVos announced $3.9 million in new grant awards to 17 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to improve science and engineering education programs for students. Seven of the grant recipients are Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs).

The grant program is part of the Department of Education’s Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP), which supports expanding the scientific and technological capacity of the United States to build global competitiveness by increasing the number of minority graduates in STEM fields. 

Title IX Regulations

Secretary DeVos launched resources to help students and schools understand the protections provided by the Department’s historic Title IX regulations, as the rule took full effect on August 14. A dedicated Title IX web site is a one-stop shop for key information, including how to file a complaint, an overview of the regulations’ protections for survivors, and a specific webinar on how schools can fully implement and uphold the provisions in the law. The site is an online hub to help students understand what the new rule means for them, including a robust fact sheet that dispels myths about the rule.

The Title IX regulations went into effect after the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied a motion for a preliminary injunction filed by 17 state attorneys general. In response, the Secretary issued a statement, hailing the ruling as “another victory for students and reaffirm[ing] that students’ rights under Title IX go hand-in-hand with basic American principles of fairness and due process.”

Department Announces Rethink K-12 Education Models Grant Recipients

On July 29, Secretary of Education DeVos announced  more than $180 million in new grant funding will be awarded to 11 states rethinking education to better serve students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Rethink K-12 Education Models Grant will support states’ efforts to create new, innovative ways for students to continue learning in ways that meet their needs. Awardees include Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, North Carolina, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas. The awards range from $6 million to $20 million.

Grant Opportunity: Institutional Resilience and Expanded Postsecondary Opportunity Grant

Secretary DeVos announced a new competitive grant program designed to help institutions of higher education emerge from the pandemic more resilient and better able to expand educational opportunities for students.  Institutional Resilience and Expanded Postsecondary Opportunity (IREPO) grants may be used in a variety of ways, including resuming operations, supporting students, reducing virus transmission, and developing more agile instructional delivery models for students who cannot or choose not to attend classes in person.  This program also recognizes the benefits to high school students of starting college early -- while still in high school -- and gives priority to those applicants who plan to expand opportunities to students who live or attend high school in an Opportunity Zone or rural community. The deadline for applications is October 20.)