May 2021 Issue

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White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative


May 2021 Issue

“Your uniqueness will be viewed as a deficit. Some will try to make you believe that what sets you apart, sets you back. I am here to remind you that your so-called deficits are, in fact, your superpowers. For me, born in a housing project, moving seven times before the age of 13, living simply without a lot of financial resources, learning Spanish before English, and having strong connections to my Boricua roots, have served me well and allowed me to be prepared for this role…. Whether you have ADHD, are differently abled, moved to this country later in life, speak with an accent, grew up in poverty, or are LGBTQ, embrace your uniqueness and use it to find your purpose. When you find your purpose, make the pursuit of your purpose greater than the pursuit of your position.”

— Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, University of Connecticut commencement address, May 8, 2021 

Safely Reopening Schools Prioritized

Data sheet on Reopening Schools

At various venues and using multiple media, Secretary Cardona and other Administration leaders continue to emphasize the urgent need to safely reopen schools.

First, on April 30, Secretary Cardona concluded his “Help is Here” School Reopening Tour with a visit to Amidon-Bowen Elementary School in Washington, D.C., where he delivered remarks on what he saw throughout the tour and the efforts to reopen the majority of K-8 schools within President Biden’s first 100 days.

Second, on May 6, the Secretary issued a statement on the March results of the 2021 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) School Survey. The data affirms achieving the President’s reopening goal, with 54% of K-8 schools open for full-time in-person learning and 88% open for either full-time in-person or hybrid instruction. The data also shows positive trendlines of increasing numbers of Black, Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian students enrolled in in-person learning since January. Yet, a much lower percentage of these subgroups are enrolled in full-time in-person learning compared to their white peers. And, even when offered in-person options, many are choosing to remain fully remote. “At the national and local level, we must act with urgency and bring every resource to bear to get more schools reopened … this spring and address the inequities that continue to persist in our classrooms and communities,” the Secretary asserted.

Third, the Secretary penned an op-ed that ran on on May 12.  “These next few weeks will prove critical for students of all ages, but particularly those disproportionately affected by the pandemic and at risk of falling further behind,” he explained. “Our educators and leaders have worked tirelessly to get us where we are today. Collectively, we must recommit to our mission of serving all students. That means not just opening back up for in-person instruction, but building a world class education system that is better than it was before March 2020. We must dedicate ourselves in the coming days to get all students safely back to in-person instruction: equitably and without exception.”

In addition, the Secretary shared his message with journalists during the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar and was interviewed by TIME for Kids reporter Bellen Woodard.

Senior Officers Honor Teachers

In recognition of National Teacher Appreciation Day (May 4) and Teacher Appreciation Week (May 3-7), especially considering this continued period of national emergency, senior officers across government saluted the nation’s educators.

President Biden issued a proclamation noting, “Education is the one field that makes all others possible. Every one of us has been shaped by someone who inspired our curiosity and helped us find our confidence, who guided us to think more clearly and pushed us to strive for better. On National Teacher Appreciation Day and during Teacher Appreciation Week, we remember the tremendous debt of gratitude owed to educators everywhere who helped define us as individuals and as a country, and to all that they are doing to light the way forward for our families and our communities.”

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden paid a surprise visit to the 2021 National Teacher of the Year Juliana Urtubey, the first Hispanic National Teacher of the Year since 2005.

Secretary Cardona issued a letter to America’s teachers, shared a video message with educators, delivered donuts to teachers at Stanton Elementary School in Washington, D.C., and engaged in a Twitter chat. The Secretary also met with the 2021 State Teachers of the Year and, subsequently, congratulated Urtubey.

The Department’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) office spotlighted four loan forgiveness options for teachers.

The Department’s Homeroom blog offered two theme-based posts: “Honoring Teachers’ Commitment to Continual Improvement through Collaboration” and “Weeks Become Months: Teaching During a Pandemic.”

Many others shared their appreciation via #ThankATeacher.

Higher Education Relief Aid Announced

On May 11, the Department announced more than $36 billion in emergency grants under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) for postsecondary education. These grants will help over 5,000 institutions of higher education, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCCUs), and provide emergency financial aid to millions of students and ensure that learning continues during the COVID-19 national emergency. This ARP funding more than doubles the emergency relief aid available to students and institutions already authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act.

To help institutions quickly and effectively utilize the ARP funds, the Department also released guidance detailing how institutions can use these funds to, among other things, support vulnerable students, actively monitor and suppress the COVID-19 virus, and reengage students whose education was disrupted by the pandemic. In addition, the Department released a final rule that allows institutions to provide emergency aid to all students

Allocations for public and private nonprofit schools and propriety schools under the ARP Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund are based on a formula that includes the relative shares of federal Pell Grant recipients, the relative shares of non-Pell Grant recipients, and the relative shares of Pell Grant recipients enrolled in distance education prior to the pandemic.

Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse Launched

safer schools and campuses

The Department has launched the Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse, highlighting the innovative work underway nationwide in continuing to reopen K-12 schools, early childhood centers, and higher education institutions.  The website includes resources targeting the needs of students on three key topics: safe and healthy environments; supports for students; and teacher, faculty, and staff well-being, professional development, and supports.

In addition, the Department is seeking submissions of your lessons learned and best practices on operating safe environments; providing support to meet students' needs; and school staff well-being. This is an opportunity for teachers, faculty, staff, schools, districts, Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs), early childhood education providers, other places of educational instruction, and States that serve Hispanic students and families to share their effective practice. Your input will help support reopening schools and the continuing operation of schools. 

2021 Class of U.S. Presidential Scholars Announced

The Secretary announced the 2021 class of U.S. Presidential Scholars. This program was established by Executive Order in 1964 to honor academic achievement by graduating high school seniors. It was expanded in 1979 to honor students in the arts and in 2015 to honor students in career and technical education (CTE). Each year, 161 students are named, including at least one young man and woman from every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and American families living abroad. Another 15 students are chosen at-large, 20 students are scholars in the arts, and 20 students are scholars in CTE. The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars -- appointed by the President -- selects the finalists based on their academic success, school evaluations, transcripts, and essays, as well as clear evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.

Summer Learning Collaborative Launched

On April 26, the Department launched the Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative, a professional learning community of 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, three territories, and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) working together to use federal relief funding to support as many students as possible through educational and enriching summer programming.

Students Experiencing Homelessness Receive Support

On April 23, the Department announced state allocations under the $800 million ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief -- Homeless Children and Youth Fund and distributed $200 million in funding. With this announcement, the Secretary issued a letter to Chief State School Officers underscoring the urgent need to use these funds to identify those who are homeless, offer wrap-around services in light of the impact of the pandemic, and provide assistance to enable homeless students to attend school and fully participate in school activities, including in-person instruction this spring and upcoming summer learning and enrichment programming. Remaining funding will be allocated as soon as June.

That same day, the Secretary held a roundtable discussion with students who have experienced homelessness, centering the conversation on lived experiences and critical federal investments.

Separately, on the Homeroom blog, read “The Pursuit of Education: A Story of Homelessness, Perseverance, and the Impact of Caring Educators.”

Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Announced

Eligible households can enroll in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Emergency Broadband Benefit Program to receive a monthly discount off the cost of broadband service from an approved provider.  The program is open to households with children receiving free or reduced-price lunch or school breakfast and Pell Grant recipients. The Department launched a new outreach campaign to inform millions of students that they may be eligible for the discount.

COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens Webpage Launched

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a new webpage -- COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens -- with information about the benefits for adolescents (ages 12 and older), how to find a vaccination provider, and what to expect during and after vaccination.

Lessons From The Field Webinar Series Continues

The Department is continuing hosting its Lessons from the Field webinar series, running biweekly from April through June and focusing on the following key topics across early childhood, K-12 education, and postsecondary education: safe and healthy environments; providing supports for students; and teacher, faculty, and staff well-being, professional development, and supports. Below are the recordings and slides of recent webinars:

#LatinosTeach Accepting Nominations

The White House Initiative on Hispanic Prosperity is accepting nominations for Latino educators! #LatinosTeach recognizes Hispanic teachers who have dedicated themselves to serving their community through teaching. Submit a nomination today.

Hispanic-Serving Institutions STEM and Articulation Grant Program Open

The Department is seeking applications for the Hispanic-Serving Institutions STEM and Articulation Program. The purpose of the grant is to increase the number of Hispanic and low-income students attaining degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); and to develop model transfer and articulation agreements between two-year HSIs and four-year institutions in such fields. The application for this grant program is due by June 14.

NASA Express Newsletter Lists Opportunities

NASA Express logo

Did you know that NASA has a weekly newsletter for educators and students? Keep up with the latest NASA STEM opportunities with the NASA EXPRESS newsletter. Each Thursday, subscribers receive information about internships, competitions, lesson ideas, webinars, and more. Find ways to bring NASA current events into the classroom and make real-world connections to STEM concepts. Subscribe today at

STEM Rising Newsletter Covers DoE

STEM Rising

Interested in STEM news from the Department of Energy (DOE)? Sign up for the STEM Rising newsletter, bringing you a monthly update on the latest STEM opportunities and resources. STEM is core to the Department of Energy’s workforce and cutting-edge energy innovation. The newsletter highlights STEM outreach activities at the DOE, including K-12 learning resources, student competitions, field trips, events, internship and research opportunities, and tools for STEM teachers. Questions?

Community Mobility Design Challenge 2021 Now Open

The Federal Transit Administration-funded National Center for Mobility Management (NCMM) is now accepting applications for its Community Mobility Design Challenge 2021 grant program. These grants, using the human-centered design process (aka “design thinking”), will support communities in creating innovative mobility solutions for community members who face transportation barriers in advancing their personal well-being. Grants of up to $25,000 will be available as well as NCMM facilitation throughout the entire process. You can learn more about the grants and download the application here. Deadline for responses: July 12, 2021. Pre-application webinar: May 27 at 1:00 p.m. ET. Register Here.

Nominations for Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships Now Accepted

The U.S. Department of Labor is accepting nominations of the National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships. Nominations are being accepted through June 3.