November 2020 Issue

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White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative


November 2020 Issue

“[National] Blue Ribbon Schools show what’s possible when you focus on students and their achievement. Many of you show what’s possible when you’re forced to pivot and navigate uncharted circumstances — like during this COVID crisis — to keep learning going for all your students. We know that every child is unique.  Different students in different places have different needs. We recognize different kinds of schools precisely because of this reality.” 

— Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (11/12/20), from remarks for the National Blue Ribbon Schools Virtual Awards Ceremony 

STEM Education Investments

On November 17, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced that during the last fiscal year, it has invested $578 million to support high-quality science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education for students through its discretionary and research grants. During a STEM education briefing, the Department reported strong progress in implementing the administration's five-year STEM education strategy, including building on more than $819 million in STEM investments during fiscal years (FYs) 2018 and 2019.

These STEM education investments deliver on President Trump's commitment to help expand opportunities in high-demand STEM careers and achieve the overall vision and goals of its five-year federal STEM education strategic plan, Charting A Course For Success: America's Strategy for STEM Education.

Of the FY 2020 STEM education investments, the Department awarded $141 million in new grants and $437 million to continue existing projects that are making substantial progress toward their goals. For example, Department funds will be used to prepare the STEM teacher corps for careers in the classroom, expand opportunities for low-income students to succeed in postsecondary education, and expand research and training opportunities on the improvement of students' STEM knowledge and skills, including learners with or at risk of disabilities

Approximately $156 million supported projects with a focus on computer science. Several of the STEM investments support the administration's Opportunity Zones initiative, which fosters economic development and job creation in economically distressed communities. 

The Department recently hosted a webinar focused on the federal government’s five-year STEM education strategic plan. Senior federal officials from various federal agencies highlighted accomplishments from the last two years to implement this bold plan across the nation and shared STEM information and resources.

Secretary DeVos Unveils Interactive Online Portal to Provide Transparency on Use of CARES Act Education Funding by States, Grantees

Secretary DeVos announced a new online portal that clearly shows if states, local educational agencies (LEAs), and institutions of higher education (IHEs) are using the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act’s $31 billion Education Stabilization Fund (ESF) meant to keep learning going for students during the pandemic.

The portal captures awards and expenditures reported as of Sept. 30, six months after enactment of the CARES Act. The interactive data map and other informational tools can be found at Of the $13.2 billion Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund – which was awarded to the 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia – $1.6 billion, or 12% of the total, had been spent. Eight recipients had spent less than one percent of their award. Of the $3 billion allocated to the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, a total of $535 million, or 18%, had been spent. Thirty-four governors had yet to spend more than one percent of their allocated funding.

The Department also awarded a total of nearly $14 billion in grants through the Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund to more than 5,000 institutions of higher education. By law, about half of those awards need to be distributed to students in the form of emergency financial aid grants. As of the end of September, institutions had spent $9 billion, 64% of the total.

Recognizing Education Leaders

Secretary DeVos announced 10 principals from 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools as this year’s recipients of the Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership. Named for the second U.S. Secretary of Education, these awards honor principals for their outstanding work and the role they play in guiding their students and schools to excellence, often under challenging circumstances. With a special series of digital profiles, the Department recognized this year’s honorees. Three Latina principals were among them: Carmen Vargas-Guevara (Connecticut), Mayra Cruz (District of Columbia), and Corrine Saenz (Texas). The other honorees were: Shavon Jackson (Arkansas), Carol Leveillee (Delaware), Michael Robinson (Georgia), Maryann Hayslip (Kentucky), John Wright, Jr. (Tennessee), Michelle Fox (Washington), and Christina Small (Hawaii).

Welcoming Safe and Supportive Learning Environments

This year, back-to-school time has presented historic challenges that changed the way schools across the country welcomed students back, regardless of instructional model. Actively addressing school climate and culture and attending to students’ physical, mental, and emotional well-being are more important than ever to ensure all students and families feel welcomed, safe, and supported in their school environments.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Institute of Education Sciences, and Office of Special Education Programs have developed Welcoming Safe and Supportive Learning Environments, resources to support teachers and school and district leaders in creating welcoming, safe, and supportive learning environments. These resources include School Climate Improvement, Creating a Safe and Respectful Environment in Our Nation’s Classrooms, Mindfulness in Education: An Approach to Cultivating Self-Awareness That Can Bolster Kids’ Learning, Returning to School During and After Crisis, and Supporting Students with Disabilities at School and Home.

You can find similar resources at the following websites: Office of Elementary and Secondary Education Resources, Center on Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations, and Institute of Education Sciences COVID-19 Evidence-Based Resources.

National Apprenticeship Week

From Nov. 8–14, the country celebrated National Apprenticeship Week (NAW). Now in its sixth year, NAW brings together business, labor, education, and other critical partners to showcase the impact apprenticeship programs have on closing the skills gap for the American workforce. NAW also gives employers, including sponsors and providers, the opportunity to showcase their programs, facilities, and apprentices so that career seekers can learn more about the benefits of apprenticeship and the programs that are available in their communities.  

The President issued a proclamation on NAW 2020, encouraging “individuals, business leaders, and government officials to support hardworking Americans and their families through expanding apprenticeship education and training, recognizing the essential role apprenticeships play in sustaining our national economy.” 

And, Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education Scott Stump released a video explaining the powerful impact and value of apprenticeships for students, employers, communities, and the education system. 

Stump also hosted a Rethink Work-Based Learning, Connecting Education and Economy online event, featuring both the Secretary of Education and the Secretary of Labor. Since 2000, there has been a precipitous drop in participation in the labor force by youth ages 16–19 of all races and ethnicities. The event explored ideas to expand work-based learning opportunities for students.

Call for Applications: Career and Educational Pathways Exploration System Program

The Department recently issued a notice inviting applications for new awards under the Career and Educational Pathways Exploration System Program. The purpose of this program is to develop technology-based career exploration systems that enable high school students to identify and explore career opportunities that align with their interests, ambitions, and aptitudes; learn from individuals who work in those fields about the nature of their work and opportunities available in their fields; and identify education and training options — including non-college programs — that support entry into or advancement in those careers. Among the eligible applicants are nonprofit institutions with expertise in career counseling or workforce development, individually or in partnership with institutions of higher education and/or other nonprofit institutions (such as state workforce development boards, employers, trade associations, and labor unions). The deadline for applications is Dec. 9.

COVID-19 Resources


During this coronavirus pandemic it is important that states, communities, educators, and families are equipped with resources and flexibilities that empower students to continue pursuing their education goals. COVID-19 resources for schools, students, and families are available at The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also continues to provide updated guidance for school settings.

Please send questions for which the Department can be helpful to

Artemis Moon Pod Essay Contest

NASA’s Artemis Moon Pod Essay Contest, open until Dec. 17, challenges U.S. K-12 students to imagine leading a one-week expedition to the moon’s South Pole. Just imagine: You and a crew of astronauts will explore the lunar surface, making key discoveries to assist future explorers. Describe your team — the number of astronauts in your crew, their personality traits, the skills they possess, and the attributes you would want in crewmates. And what machine, robot, or piece of technology would you leave behind to help future astronauts explore the moon? Essays will be divided into three groups for judging by grade level — K-4, 5-8, and 9-12. Every student who submits an essay will receive a certificate and be invited to a NASA virtual event featuring an astronaut. Semifinalists will be invited to represent their state in a series of Artemis Explorer sessions with experts. Nine finalists will have the opportunity to travel with a parent to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston next summer to learn about lunar exploration. The national winner in each group will win a family trip to see the first Artemis flight test, watching the world’s most powerful rocket launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award

On Nov. 9, Secretary DeVos announced the call for nominations for the Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award, which honors two K–12 educators for excellence in cybersecurity education.

Now in its second year, the Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award is presented annually to one elementary and one secondary educator who instill in their students the skills, knowledge, and passion for cybersecurity. Award recipients embody the expertise and dedication of educators who are critical to strengthening the nation's cybersecurity workforce. A nominee need not work in cybersecurity education exclusively; any educator whose subject matter includes cybersecurity is welcome to apply. The nomination period is now open and will close on Jan. 31, 2021.

School Ambassador Fellowship

The Department is seeking outstanding teachers, principals, counselors, psychologists, librarians, and other school-based professionals interacting with students on a daily basis to bring their expertise to the Department to serve as School Ambassador Fellows. The program is intended to expand fellows’ knowledge of the national dialogue on education and, in turn, facilitate the learning and input of other educators and community members. Applicants may choose to apply as Washington Fellows — a full-time appointment, where fellows are based in residence at the Department’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., or as Campus Fellows — a part-time appointment, where fellows collaborate with Department staff while maintaining their regular school responsibilities in their home communities. The application period closes Jan. 11, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools Virtual Ceremony

On Nov. 13, the Department held a virtual ceremony honoring the 2020 National Blue Ribbon School recipients. View Part 1 and Part 2 along with Secretary DeVos’ remarks.  

Congratulations to each recipient, especially the 47 Blue Ribbon Schools that serve a Hispanic student population of over 40 percent.

Promoting Rural Prosperity in America

At the beginning of his administration, President Trump made a commitment to promote rural prosperity across the country. In April 2017, he signed Executive Order 13790 — Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America — which established the Rural Prosperity Task Force led by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. The task force identified more than 100 recommendations, spanning legislative, regulatory, and policy changes, needed to help improve life in rural America. 

On Oct. 28, the White House released a rural prosperity resource guide, Promoting Rural Prosperity in America, demonstrating the administration’s historic investment in and support for rural America and outlining key programs across the federal government to support rural prosperity and resiliency.

Federal Work Study Experimental Site

The Secretary announced additional funding for Federal Work Study (FWS) Experimental Sites, an initiative that expands earn-and-learn opportunities for students by removing the barriers to off-campus jobs, allowing students to work more hours, and institutions to pay for work-based learning, such as apprenticeships, externships, and clinical rotations. Initiated in February, FWS at 190 institutions, including Hispanic-serving institutions, has incentivized student work opportunities that provide a paycheck and meaningful skills training aligning with students’ future work goals.

FCC Information for Parents and Educators

The Federal Communications Commission would like to remind you of several online resources that may be helpful as you continue to engage in all virtual, in-person or a hybrid model for this school year:

Please send an email to with any questions about this information or for additional assistance.

Opening Doors for Minority Business Enterprises

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to improve access to resources for industries and sub sectors within the energy sector. It also builds awareness and capacity and creates pathways to opportunities for energy supply chain stakeholders. Under the terms of the MOU, the Department of Education and MBDA will work collaboratively to open doors for minority business enterprises in the energy sector.