ED Invites Organizations to Make School Infrastructure and Sustainability Commitments

ED invites organizations to make school infrastructure and sustainability commitments

In the U.S., accountability and funding for school curriculum, buildings, and grounds primarily comes from state and local agencies. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has limited authorities in the areas of school infrastructure, sustainability, environmental justice, and climate. Nevertheless, ED continues to think creatively about how it can spur action and build leadership capacity to make all schools healthy, sustainable 21st century environments that offer environmental sustainability learning. One way ED can grow these efforts is by inspiring school partner organizations and developing shared messaging across the nation for what makes a healthy and sustainable school.

Today, we are thrilled to invite national, regional, and local non-profits, foundations, businesses, and community-based organizations to share bold commitment(s) to advance school sustainability, encompassing infrastructure, health, environmental sustainability education, climate, and environmental justice in America. By May 31, we ask organizations and entities to complete an online form to share how they will advance at least one of these infrastructure and sustainability priorities:

  • Priority #1: Ensure equitable access to healthy, safe, sustainable, 21st century physical learning environments.
  • Priority #2: Develop, maintain, and provide environmental sustainability learning, such as climate literacy, green workforce development, and outdoor learning.
  • Priority #3: Build capacity for infrastructure, sustainability, environmental justice, and climate mitigation and adaptation in schools.

Those making commitments are encouraged to address at least one of the following parameters in their commitment submission:

  • Environmental Justice: How does your commitment account for and take actions to promote environmental justice, so that all students have equitable access to safe, healthy, sustainable, and modern school environments and engaging environmental sustainability education?
  • Health: How does this work ensure access to sustainable school buildings and grounds that are healthy environments for learning?
  • Climate Action: How does this effort help education leaders understand their role and act on climate issues, including mitigation, adaptation, and climate education?
  • Capacity Building: How does this work build school district and state education agency capacity to continuously improve school environments and environmental sustainability learning?
  • Data Collection and Standardization: How will your commitment advance data collection and standardization on infrastructure and sustainability, with a view toward informed and equitable policymaking?
  • Transparency and Goal-Setting: How do you plan to achieve the outcomes? What is the unit of change, and why do you think your approach will work?

Example commitments might include:

  1. Plans to bolster environmental, sustainability, and climate education in X number of schools in the country by doing Y over Z timeframe.
  2. A partnership to bring indoor air quality technical assistance to X number of school districts annually for Y years.
  3. A pledge of Y dollars toward a specific school infrastructure purpose that mitigates climate change, reduces utility costs, and improves health and learning outcomes.
  4. A proposal of X practices to Y schools which will enable more healthy, nutritious, local, student-grown produce in cafeterias.
  5. A commitment of X dollars into Y community(ies) in support of any or all of the following: infrastructure, environmental justice, health, climate, or whole school sustainability.

Around the time of our July 25 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools awards ceremony, ED will share about bold new commitments through a variety of communications mediums. Take the School Infrastructure and Sustainability Challenge by making a commitment today!

An Open Letter from Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on MLK Day

An Open Letter From Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on MLK Day

Each January, we have an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to advancing equality, as we honor the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Education is one of the greatest levers to advance equality and empowerment. That’s because with great educators, high expectations, and an excellent, equitable education, all students, of all backgrounds, can do all things they set out to achieve.

Giving all students access to an education that helps them reach their potential is one of the greatest civil rights issues of our time.

Each of our children has limitless potential and unique value. Every day, we must fight for them and their futures. And each of us involved in that work is part of the civil rights movement that Dr. King led.

I’m humbled to be in that movement with you.

And I’m proud that since the President’s first day in office, the Biden-Harris administration has been fighting to dismantle disparities in our public policies, institutions, and communities that take us further from what our country stands for: opportunity for all. 

In our first two years, we’ve safely reopened our public schools and taken important steps to address what I call “the ABCs of the teaching profession”—agency, better working conditions, and competitive salaries for our educators. 

We’re delivering vital improvements in infrastructure and school safety. We canceled $48 billion in student debt for 1.9 million borrowers, including public servants, Americans with disabilities, and students cheated by colleges that promised them a better life, but failed to deliver. We announced and continue to fight for historic student debt relief for 40 million low-and-middle-income people. In addition to providing funding and calling for reimagined mental health supports in our schools, we’ve launched ambitious new public-private initiatives for recruiting and training new tutors and mentors to help our students feel seen and supported, and for erasing inequities in access to afterschool and summer learning programs.

And we’re intentionally partnering with other federal agencies to reimagine high school, so students have more pathways to earn industry credentials and college credits, and graduate better prepared for careers and higher education.

Throughout this process, we have proudly and unapologetically stood up for students whose rights to an education free from discrimination have been under attack. Our schools are places of inclusion and respecting the differences that make all our students special. That is what makes us unique; that’s what makes us American. 

With the President’s leadership and historic support from the American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, we have more funding to do more in education than ever before. These investments and efforts are a down payment on transformational change. 

We have a chance to be the generation that truly transforms our education system into one that makes Dr. King’s dream a reality … by working together and by recognizing that all of us are connected. 

In a 1968 speech Dr. King said, “[W]e are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. … I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. …”

When we provide our children—regardless of background or circumstance—with a high-quality, rich education, we empower them to be what they can be.

So, especially today and in the days ahead, let’s follow Dr. King’s example of leadership and service, finding ways to give a hand up to others and make a difference in our communities.

Together, let’s work harder than ever to raise the bar for learners of all ages and backgrounds … to reimagine education … and to bring the transformative change that this moment requires and that our students and families deserve. 

Department Announces $160 Million in Grants to Raise the Bar for Student Success and Innovation

Secretary Cardona has challenged us to not just refine the same strategies but to make the most of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform education. We have a clear challenge to reimagine our schools, and the Department is making investments in education innovation through programs like EIR and other federal grants.  

The Department recently announced $160 million in new grant awards through the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program. This year’s cohort of grantees is comprised of 28 entities that include state education agencies, local education agencies, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit organizations across the U.S. Through the EIR program, grantees will design, scale, and validate programs that can help solve education’s most pressing problems. Most importantly, they’ll be working to address the continuing impacts of the COVID19 pandemic. 

Here are 5 examples of how EIR grantees are responding to support students:

  1. San Diego Unified School District introduces work-based learning experiences

EIR funds will help support the development of the district’s MetaSocratic Peer Tutoring Project. Tenth through 12thgrade math students from across the district will be paired with 9th-11th graders to provide math tutoring. Through this experience students will be introduced to education and child development career pathways. Work-based experiences like this can help students better decide career pathways and feel better prepared to enter the workforce.

  1. CommonLit, Inc. offers a blended learning curriculum to help student achievement in reading, writing, speaking, and listening

CommonLit, Inc. was awarded EIR funds to advance a blended learning curriculum for grades 6-12.  The curriculum will include aligned PD, assessments, and school district support framework. Through digital assessments, teacher professional learning, and cultural and technology-based supports, the project helps students improve their English Language Arts skills.

  1. Wisconsin Center for Education examines a web-based classroom assessment system

EIR funds will help the Wisconsin Center for Education examine a web-based classroom assessment system that promotes data-driven instruction and student autonomy. This program supports high-need middle school science learners, particularly multilanguage learners. Visuals, graphics, animations, and on-screen assists will help students who would otherwise be disadvantaged by traditionally language-heavy assessments.

  1. The M-SENS project led by the University of Oregon Foundation develops a program to support kindergarten student math achievement and support positive behavior management strategies

The “Math Ready-Supporting Early Number Sense (M-SENS)” at the University of Oregon Foundation was awarded EIR funds to work with kindergarten teachers to integrate positive behavior management strategies. M-SENS is meant to help students improve in math faster, reduce challenging behavior in whole-class settings, and give teachers more tools to help students with their early math and behavior needs.

  1. The RWDS project from PREP- KC helps students solve real-world challenges and become data scientists

EIR funds were awarded to the “Real World Data Science (RWDS)” project from PREP-KC to help middle school students learn data science skills. Through the program, students prepare for a STEM-focused career by combining STEM learning with hands-on learning. Industry professionals serve as mentors and experts on the subject matter. Students will solve problems in data science that come from the Kansas City area and their own interests. These real-world problems are the core of a curriculum that aims to make every student feel like a data scientist and align data science instruction with important math and science standards, which will help students do better in STEM-focused classes.

These FY22 grantees reflect Secretary Cardona’s priority to promptly respond to the effects of the pandemic and ensure that all students have equal access to high-quality educational opportunities, as well as the FY22 directive from congress to prioritize innovations focused on social-emotional learning and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).   

Learn more about the EIR program and see the full list of grantees: https://oese.ed.gov/offices/office-of-discretionary-grants-support-services/innovation-early-learning/education-innovation-and-research-eir/awards/

Virginia Elementary School Invokes Code to Fight Bullying

“Red, Green, Black, and Blue. 

My Tribe is my Crew. 

We are O-C-C-O-Q-U-A-N! 

My school is the perfect 10…at The ‘O’!” 

These are words from one of the cheers we recite when we welcome new students to our school. At Occoquan Elementary School in Woodbridge, Virginia, we have a House System that fosters our sense of community. This is a common practice where the school is divided into subunits called “houses” and each student is allocated to one house at the moment of enrollment.  We compete to see who has the most spirit, but we also strive to uphold a code of behavior we call The 30 Essentials

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Dominican University: Serving Latine Students in the Midwest

Dominican University: Serving Latine Students In The Midwest

By: Verónica Gutiérrez, MBA’22, Dominican University, River Forest IL and Marcela Reales Visbal, Activity Director for Title V, Part B – Promoting Post-Baccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans, Dominican University, River Forest IL

“I had never heard of the term HSI until I came to Dominican University”, said Verónica Gutiérrez, a first-generation Latina who grew up in one of Chicago’s northwestern suburbs and recently graduated with her Master’s in Business Administration from Dominican.

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Colleges Have a Responsibility to Protect Students’ Best Financial Interests

Colleges have a responsibility to protect students' best financial interests

Students look to their college as a trusted source of information as they determine how to pay for tuition, housing, books, and other basic needs. In today’s environment, students are facing additional financial challenges coinciding with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising interest rates, and inflation. Each year, millions of students look to their college when receiving federal financial aid and may receive information about financial banking products, debit cards, and deposit accounts.

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Resources for Communities Following Natural Disasters

Resources for communities following natural disasters

Recent natural disasters have significantly impacted communities and their education institutions. Since 2017, there have been over 300 presidentially declared major disasters across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Outlying Areas. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) closely follows the impacts of natural disasters on students, educators, staff, families, and others. Schools are a critical aspect of whole community recovery and provide education, nutrition, physical fitness, mental health counseling, and other resources to students and their families during day-to-day operations. When schools close after a natural disaster, it is critical that these resources remain available to the community and that schools are reopened and operating as soon as possible. In 2018, to better assist schools in dealing with impacts of natural disasters, ED’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education formed a Disaster Recovery Unit (DRU) with the goal of increasing resources dedicated to K-12 schools disaster recovery efforts. ED’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) office and Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) offer support to postsecondary schools.

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Recursos para comunidades después de desastres naturales

Recursos Para Comunidades Despues De Desastres Naturales

Los recientes desastres naturales han impactado significativamente a las comunidades y sus instituciones educativas. Desde 2017, ha habido más de 300 desastres importantes declarados por el presidente en los 50 estados, Puerto Rico y las áreas periféricas de EE. UU. El Departamento de Educación de EE. UU. (ED) sigue de cerca los impactos de los desastres naturales en los estudiantes, educadores, personal, familias y otros. Las escuelas son un aspecto crítico de la recuperación de toda la comunidad y brindan educación, nutrición, aptitud física, asesoramiento sobre salud mental y otros recursos a los estudiantes y sus familias durante las operaciones diarias. Cuando las escuelas cierran después de un desastre natural, es fundamental que estos recursos permanezcan disponibles para la comunidad y que las escuelas vuelvan a abrir y funcionen lo antes posible. En 2018, para ayudar mejor a las escuelas a lidiar con los impactos de los desastres naturales, la Oficina de Educación Primaria y Secundaria del ED formó una Unidad de Recuperación de Desastres (DRU) con el objetivo de aumentar los recursos dedicados a los esfuerzos de recuperación de desastres de las escuelas K-12. La oficina de Ayuda Federal para Estudiantes (FSA) y la Oficina de Educación Postsecundaria (OPE) del ED ofrecen apoyo a las escuelas postsecundarias.

ED ha seleccionado recursos, incluyendo los recursos de otras agencias y organizaciones federales, para restaurar el entorno de enseñanza y aprendizaje, en Recursos para Desastres Naturales | Departamento de Educación de los Estados Unidos. A continuación, se muestran algunos ejemplos de recursos útiles.

Recursos de ED para comunidades K-12 después de desastres naturales:

Recursos de ED para comunidades de educación superior después de desastres naturales:

  • La Ayuda Federal para Estudiantes (FSA, por sus siglas en inglés) proporciona alcance y apoyo a las instituciones elegibles del Título IV nacionales y extranjeras y a las partes interesadas de la comunidad escolar a raíz de y en respuesta a desastres naturales que van desde tornados, incendios forestales, inundaciones, huracanes, tsunamis y terremotos. FSA colabora a través de ED para llegar al liderazgo de las escuelas en las regiones afectadas y ofrecer recordatorios e información clave sobre los recursos especiales disponibles para las instituciones afectadas por desastres. La orientación actual de la Ayuda Federal para Estudiantes sobre las áreas afectadas por desastres para las instituciones participantes del Título IV se puede seguir encontrando en el Centro de conocimiento en https://fsapartners.ed.gov/knowledge-center/topics/natural-disaster-information.
  • La Oficina de Educación Postsecundaria brinda asistencia técnica y apoyo a los beneficiarios que necesitan ajustar actividades y presupuestos como resultado de desastres naturales. La información de contacto del personal con respecto a las subvenciones se puede encontrar en https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/contacts.html.
  • La Unidad de Respuesta a Emergencias dentro de la Oficina de Educación Postsecundaria administra el Fondo de Ayuda de Emergencia para la Educación Superior (HEERF). Las subvenciones HEERF deben usarse para prevenir, prepararse o responder a la pandemia. Las instituciones pueden usar HEERF para proporcionar subvenciones de ayuda financiera de emergencia directamente a los estudiantes, que pueden usarse para cualquier componente de su costo de asistencia o para los costos de emergencia que surjan, incluidos alojamiento y comida. Los estudiantes que reciben subvenciones de ayuda financiera de emergencia HEERF deben priorizarse en función de la necesidad excepcional, que puede incluir necesidades que surgieron como resultado de los huracanes recientes. Las instituciones deben documentar cuidadosamente cómo determinan la necesidad excepcional. Las instituciones no pueden dirigir o controlar en qué usan los estudiantes sus subvenciones de ayuda financiera de emergencia, ya que los fondos deben proporcionarse directamente a los estudiantes. Consulte https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/arpfaq.pdf. Para preguntas adicionales, comuníquese con la Unidad de Respuesta a Emergencias en HEERF@ed.gov

Recursos de ED para prekínder hasta educación superior después de desastres naturales: Centro de asistencia técnica (TA) de preparación y manejo de emergencias para escuelas (REMS): apoya a las agencias educativas, con sus socios comunitarios, a administrar programas de manejo de seguridad y emergencias. El Centro REMS TA ayuda a desarrollar la capacidad de preparación (incluidos los esfuerzos de prevención, protección, mitigación, respuesta y recuperación) de las escuelas, los distritos escolares, las instituciones de educación superior y sus socios comunitarios a nivel local, estatal y federal. REMS TA Center también sirve como fuente principal de difusión de información para escuelas, distritos e IHE para emergencias.

Proyecto de Respuesta de Emergencia Escolar a la Violencia (Proyecto SERV): El programa proporciona financiamiento inmediato a corto plazo para distritos e IHE que han experimentado un incidente violento o traumático para ayudar a restaurar un entorno seguro propicio para el aprendizaje. A discreción del secretario de Educación, se pueden identificar los montos de financiamiento y los períodos del proyecto (sujeto a la disponibilidad de asignaciones) para reflejar el alcance del incidente y las posibles necesidades de recuperación. El proceso de solicitud está destinado a no ser oneroso. Los fondos para las asignaciones del Proyecto SERV suelen oscilar entre $ 50,000 y $ 150,000.

Otros recursos de agencias federales y organizaciones nacionales después de desastres naturales:

Tenga en cuenta: estos enlaces representan algunos ejemplos de los numerosos materiales de referencia actualmente disponibles para el público. La inclusión de recursos no debe interpretarse como una aprobación por parte del Departamento de Educación de los EE. UU. de ninguna organización privada o empresa mencionada en este documento.

On the Heels of the Road to Success Bus Tour, ED and FCC Highlight the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) in North Carolina

On The Heels Of The Road To Success Bus Tour, ED & FCC Highlight The  Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) In North Carolina

By: Lauren Mendoza, Deputy Assistant Secretary for State and Local Outreach, Office of Communication and Outreach

Recently, representatives of the Department of Education (ED) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) visited Charlotte and Durham, North Carolina for conversations on partnerships between schools and community-based organizations to implement the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). ACP, which was established in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, provides eligible households discounts of up to $30 per month on internet service and a one-time $100 discount for a connected device. These conversations, which followed the Road to Success Back to School Bus Tour stop in Greensboro, NC, highlighted the impact of ACP and community-led efforts in removing broadband affordability and adoption barriers, allowing more students and families to benefit from transformative learning opportunities empowered through technology. 

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