$36 Million Available to Support Innovative Projects that Address the Unique Educational Needs of Alaska Natives

By Patrick Carr, Director of Rural, Insular, and Native Achievement Programs, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education 

Today, the U.S. Department of Education released the 2022 application for the Alaska Native Education program. The program will award up to $36 million in grants that will support innovative projects that recognize and address the unique educational needs of Alaska Natives.  Successful applicants will administer a wide range of projects that could include, but are not limited to, support for culturally responsive curriculum development, training and professional development, early childhood and parent outreach, and enrichment programs. For more information, visit the notice inviting applications.  

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White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities Partners with NASA to Foster Innovation and Opportunity for HBCU Scholars

by Arthur McMahan, Senior Associate Director for the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities

In 2021, Janine Jackson, an HBCU Scholar from Morgan State University, participated in the Mini Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Innovation Tech Transfer Idea Competition (MITTIC), part of the HBCU Scholar Recognition Program run by the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Initiative). “The Mini-MITTIC experience was intense, competitive and rewarding,” Janine shared with me. “I am grateful to the Initiative staff and friendly folks at NASA for bringing us all together literally across space and time zones to work together on this experience. I thoroughly enjoyed brainstorming with my team to come up with a product and a pitch. The experience confirmed that diverse perspectives are useful and meaningful when we take time to listen to one other. It also verified how well HBCU students collaborate and create when we link up.”

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Challenge, Opportunities, and Wisdom

I was fifteen when my family moved to the U.S. from a rural town in Mexico. My parents were migrant workers, so after the season, they would return to Mexico to continue working while I remained in Eastern Oregon. As a first-generation, low-income, Latino from a migrant farm working family, education was something I valued but was insecure about. All of that changed when I was recruited into the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) to attend a university. The CAMP Program is managed by the U.S. Department of Education and assists students who are migratory or seasonal farmworkers (or children of such workers) enrolled in their first year of undergraduate studies at an institution of higher education (IHE). 

In the CAMP program, I was surrounded by other students who, like me, were from first- generation, low-income, and farm working Latinx families who were struggling at a predominately white institution. It can be hard  to feel like one of very few, or sometimes the only one in the classroom or in specific spaces on campus questioning your identity and sense of belonging in higher education. Our shared narratives and the cohort’s community helped us gain a sense of belonging and made me realize I wanted to seek opportunities to mentor other students as they navigated higher education.  

During my second year of college, I became a CAMP tutor and the following year a peer mentor. I have been advising and mentoring CAMP students by providing individual support in overcoming personal and academic obstacles during their first year in college and serving as a positive social and academic role model. In addition, during the summers, I worked as a mentor for the Oregon Migrant Leadership Institute (OMLI), where I have served as a role model for young migrant students. My mentoring approach is strongly driven by inclusivity and a phrase I heard growing up: ”Todos son maestros y todos son aprendices.” (everyone is a teacher, and everyone is a learner).  

During the pandemic I decided to be innovative and to continue to find ways to connect with my students by sending weekly emails. These emails contain three main sections: wellness challenge, opportunities, and wisdom. The wellness challenge provides useful tips for improving well-being and adopting good habits to improve mental and physical health. The opportunities section includes a short list of volunteer activities, scholarships, internships, job openings and more. Lastly, the wisdom section is a simple quote or a small meditation passage. Based on a survey I conducted with my mentees they have found these emails useful and felt more connected during the pandemic. Furthermore, it is important to recognize that students bring knowledge and experience to a learning environment and while I teach and share my experiences with them, they do the same thing with me. Even though I began college insecure about my belongingness, I am now confident sharing my knowledge with others and being in this space.  

This is the reason I have also realized that my work as a mentor has not only impacted students’ sense of belonging in college but has also impacted my own sense of belonging as I take on leadership roles. I genuinely believe that education is the avenue for change in our society because when quality education is taught to every student in an environment that fosters and celebrates diversity, equity, and inclusion, actual progress can be made.  

CAMP’s sister program, the High School Equivalency Program (HEP),High School Equivalency Program (HEP), helps migratory and seasonal farmworkers (or children of such workers) who are 16 years of age or older and not currently enrolled in school to obtain the equivalent of a high school diploma. Both programs are accepting applications until February 1, 2022. Both CAMP and HEP are competitive five-year grants to eligible IHEs or nonprofit private agencies that cooperate with such institutions.  

Bio:  Ulises Trujillo Garcia is an undergraduate student at Boise State University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. He is actively involved. Currently, he is participating in two research projects on campus. He is also the Vice-President of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Financial Officer of Chi Epsilon (The Civil Engineering Honor Society), Events Fundraising Officer for Organizacion de Estudiantes Latino-Americanos, and member of the Order of the Engineer and Tau Beta Pi (The Engineering Honor Society). Among his numerous accomplishments and awards, Ulises was recently elected as a fellow for the Micron Academy for Inclusive Leadership and participated as a 2021 fellow for the Station1 Frontiers Fellowship (SFF). Ulises wants to pursue a Ph.D. in Engineering Education to help diverse students navigate this challenging field, access resources, and increase their graduation and retention rates, and was just offered a full ride to one of the institutions he applied for. 





From a Question Mark to a Period: The Student Action to Move Beyond COVID-19

By: Aishwarya Swamidurai, YMCA Youth Governor of Oklahoma and Comfort Markwei, YMCA Youth Governor of Tennessee 

When will we go back to school? How do I learn through a screen? What are our next steps? Can I get through this school year? Will we even stay in school? What about COVID? 

Hi, high school seniors Aishwarya and Comfort here! Markedly so, these questions have been the definition of our lives as students these past nearly two years. Shuffling feet, masked faces, and exhausted expressions: this is the description of school hallway during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not a pretty image, but our reality, nonetheless. We see the exhaustion within ourselves and our peers, and we’re sure our educators, parents, and community members see it too. 

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Approving Additional State Plans for American Rescue Plan Funds To Support Students & Families Experiencing Homelessness

Approving Additional State Plans for American Rescue Plan Funds To Support Students & Families Experiencing Homelessness

This week, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) approved thirteen additional American Rescue Plan Act of 2021’s Homeless Children and Youth Fund (ARP-HCY) state plans, bringing the total to 41 plans approved. States are continuing to commit to utilizing the $800 million in funding provided by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) for identifying and supporting students experiencing homelessness and connecting them to wrap around services. The Department released the $800 million to states earlier this year.

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Cultural Capital: Drawing on Student Experiences to Inform Teaching

By Meghan Everette

Educators know that creating meaningful connections between the world outside and inside school is important for engaging all students in learning. Teachers draw on history and pop culture, English and first-languages, and even video games to help students make sense of academics and the world around them. A group of diverse educators from around the country met with ED Senior Advisor for Labor Relations, Montserrat Garibay, to talk about supporting the diverse needs of students and communities. Teachers offered insights that can be implemented in any classroom to foster welcoming environments and make school a safe, engaging place to learn.

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Announcing the Proposed Data Elements for the 2021-22 CRDC

by Catherine E. Lhamon

Since 1968, Congress has charged the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to administer the Civil Rights Data Collection, or CRDC, collecting information from public elementary and secondary schools and districts about equity in students’ access to education. The CRDC has collected information about student access to courses, teachers and other school staff, and positive school climates. These data provide crucial information to OCR and to school communities and researchers about students’ educational experiences.

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Native American Heritage Month: Building Back Better with the Tohono O’odham Nation

By Amy Loyd, Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary

Native american heritage month: building back better with the Tohono O'odham nation

Lightning flashed above the mountains, brightening the rain-soaked desert as we drove into the Tohono O’odham Nation in Southwestern Arizona. The Nation’s 28,000 members live throughout a Tribal land base that comprises 4,460 square miles, roughly the size of Connecticut. The Nation invited Secretary Cardona to visit their Tribal college, Tohono O’odham Community College (TOCC), to learn about the essential role it plays in the community, and to get feedback on our Administration’s Build Back Better agenda. 

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Supporting Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness with American Rescue Plan Funds

By Levi Bohanan, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Supporting children and youth experiencing homelessness with american rescue plan funds

Today, the U.S. Department of Education approved the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021’s Homeless Children and Youth Fund (ARP-HCY) State Plans for 15 states. These state plans represent commitments to utilizing the $800 million in funding in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) designated to identifying and supporting students experiencing homelessness and connecting them to wrap around services.

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Welcome to the School Pyschologist’s office

by Julie Richardson, school psychologist

School psychologists are trained to wear many hats such as providing direct support and interventions to students, consulting with teachers, families, and other professionals, working with administrators to improve school-wide practices and policies, and collaborating with community providers to coordinate needed services. School psychologists strive to meet each student where they are emotionally and academically, and work with them to address needs and improve skills.  This could include teaching social skills, conducting small groups targeting specific issues and practicing coping strategies, and working one-on-one with students who have more intensive needs. School psychologists also work with families to understand their child’s learning and behavior needs and assist them in navigating the special education process. They are regular members of school crisis teams and collaborate with school administrators and other educators to prevent and respond to crises.  

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Community Violence Intervention: Equity and Justice for Every Student

by Loredana Valtierra

Gun violence has become an all too common part of American school life. Yet the gun violence we often associate with schools, mass shootings that make headlines and capture the national psyche, are rare. While the possibility of mass shootings is a fear among educators, the reality is that many educators work in schools at risk of a more constant threat to their students – community violence. A 2020 GAO study found that most shootings that occur on school campuses are related to interpersonal conflict and occur outside the school building. Community violence is a persistent, daily threat in lower income and mostly of color neighborhoods that doesn’t receive the same level of attention and action that mass school shootings do.

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Leading by Listening to Students’ Voices

Of all the traits of a strong school leader, one of the most important is listening to students. By addressing their concerns & suggestions, school leaders can build environment where students are seen & heard.

That’s what we found when ED recently visited Western Branch Middle School in Chesapeake, VA to interview Principal S. Kambar Khoshaba, recently named Virginia’s 2021 Outstanding Middle School Principal of the Year by the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals. As we talked with Dr. Khoshaba about his leadership style, we saw the pride he takes in helping to make Western Branch a place where everyone has a voice.

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