OCTAE Connection - Issue 213 - August 28, 2014

OCTAE Newsletter

                              August 28, 2014

WIOA Webinar: An Overview of Adult Education and Literacy

On Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, OCTAE will host the webinar “The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA): An Overview of Adult Education and Literacy.”  It will provide a broad overview of the legislation, key dates for its implementation, and useful information on resources and materials for adult education and literacy partners and stakeholders. The webinar will also feature a panel of representatives from the Department’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Labor. 

The webinar will stream live from this link, and will be recorded and archived. No registration or call-in phone number is needed.  

   USDA Announces $200 Million Grant for SNAP Employment and Training Pilot Programs

On Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a Request for Applications (RFA) for its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) employment and training (E&T) pilot projects.  The Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill) provided the USDA with $200 million to conduct and evaluate up to 10 E&T pilot projects.  Approximately $165 million in grants will be awarded, with each project receiving $5 to $25 million. (The remainder of the $200 million will go to “associated independent evaluation.”) These pilots will allow the USDA and state agencies to test a number of approaches and strategies to help SNAP recipients gain and retain employment, increase their earnings, and become self-sufficient. 

The RFA outlines areas of interest, project requirements, and the approach to evaluating proposals.  The USDA is particularly interested in pilots that focus on hard-to-serve-populations, provide case management services, test work-based learning or career pathway approaches, or have strong public-private partnerships.  The agency will ensure that projects as a whole reflect the array of approaches in the Farm Bill, including those focused on education and training, and services for individuals with barriers to employment.  The USDA is hoping to receive a robust set of proposals that reflect the diversity of SNAP work registrants, including individuals with low skills, able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs), and recipients who are working in very low-wage or part-time jobs.

In September, the USDA will host a webinar for interested applicants to help unpack the priorities, requirements, and expectations outlined in the RFA.  It will send out a registration link with the date and time of the webinar and make this information available on the E&T Pilot Web page.

OCTAE Welcomes Isabel Soto 



OCTAE is pleased to welcome Isabel Soto, who joined our staff in June as a confidential assistant to Deputy Assistant Secretary Mark Mitsui. Before coming to ED, Isabel worked as a program assistant in public policy at the Greater Houston Partnership in Houston, Texas. There, she coordinated grassroots advocacy strategies for chamber of commerce, economic development, and governmental organizations. This work gathered the support of the Houston business community for initiatives to benefit the region, like the recently passed water referendum and the City of Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. 

Isabel received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Houston in May 2013. While in school, she developed a passion for public service and worked in various policy environments in her field. In summer 2011, Isabel was a human resources and community and government relations intern for Air Products and Chemicals Inc., in Allentown, Pa. In summer 2012, she worked as a legislative assistant in both the Texas House of Representatives for the office of Rep. Eddie Lucio, III and in the Texas Senate for the office of Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. In January 2013, Isabel was selected as a Hobby Fellow by the University of Houston’s Hobby Center for Public Policy, and worked as a legislative assistant for Rep. Armando Walle. In each of these offices, Isabel worked closely with legislative and state agency staff, constituents, and stakeholders to pass laws on public education, juvenile justice, workforce conditions, quality of life, and health care.

Isabel is a volunteer and student trainer for the SkillsUSA and SkillsUSA Texas organizations, where she works with CTE students to develop their leadership and workforce-ready skills. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring D.C. and the surrounding area, completing DIY projects, reading, and running. She hopes to complete her first full marathon right here in D.C.

Civil Rights Act of 1964

Earlier this summer, President Obama issued a presidential proclamation on the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  It begins, “Few achievements have defined our national identity as distinctly or as powerfully as the passage of the Civil Rights Act.  It transformed our understanding of justice, equality, and democracy and advanced our long journey toward a more perfect Union.”

The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a historic moment in the struggle for civil rights in the United States.  Following is some background on the act:

  • The U. S. House of Representatives passed its original version of the civil rights bill by a vote of 290 yeas to 130 nays.
  • An early Senate version of the bill came to the floor for debate on March 30, 1964, where it was delayed immediately by a filibuster.  After 54 days, Republican senators Everett Dirksen of Illinois and Thomas Kuchel of California, and Democratic senators Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota and Mike Mansfield of Montana introduced a substitute bill to attract enough bipartisan support to break the filibuster.
  • On June 9, 1964, Senate Democratic Whip Humphrey determined that he had the 67 votes needed to break the filibuster.  The vote was 71 yeas to 29 nays.  On June 19, the substitute bill passed the Senate by a vote of 73 yeas to 27 nays.
  • A House-Senate conference committee agreed to adopt the Senate version of the bill to be voted on by the House (as an identical version of a proposed bill has to pass both houses of Congress before it can be sent to the president to be signed into law).
  • The House passed the Senate-approved bill by a vote of 289 yeas to 126 nays, and the bill was sent to President Johnson for his signature.  President Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Bill into law on July 2, 1964.
  • The act consists of 11 titles.  Its key features were the outlawing of discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; of inequality in the application of voter registration requirements; and of racial segregation in schools, the workplace, and public accommodations.
  • Before signing the bill, President Johnson made the following remarks: 

 “We believe that all men are created equal—yet many are denied equal treatment.  We believe that all men have certain inalienable rights.  We believe that all men are entitled to the blessings of liberty—yet millions are being deprived of those blessings, not because of their own failures, but because of the color of their skins.”

SMART Competition Registration Open

Registration is now open for the SMART Competition, which engages high school students in building design using their math, science, and physics knowledge.  This year’s competition will feature the redesign of a high school gymnasium.  According to the program’s website, students will be mentored by “design and engineering professionals.” Students in public and private schools, home-based schools, clubs, and sponsored educational entities may apply. 

Registration is open until Oct. 31, 2014. 

For additional information and to register, please visit the SMART website.