A publication released last month by the Center for Law & Social Policy (CLASP), while making it a little easier to track upcoming funding and legislative opportunities for disconnected youth, already needs to be updated in light of fast-moving developments related to health care reform.
“Follow the Money: Funding and Legislative Opportunities on the Horizon for Communities to Serve Disconnected Youth” details the status of proposed federal legislation designed to keep youths in school and the status of recently enacted programs, such as the Investing in Innovation Fund, a U.S. Department of Education grant program to support education reforms that is now soliciting proposals.
The viability of one of the initiatives covered in the report, the American Graduation Initiative – aimed at increasing access to college primarily for low-income, nontraditional students – is now unclear. It was part of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) that Congress had planned to pass in an amendment to health care legislation. Some aspects of SAFRA were attached to the health care bill – set to be voted on by the House on March 21 and by the Senate after that – but the $7 billion, 10-year graduation initiative was not.
Another program once included in SAFRA, a $1 billion-a-year Early Learning Challenge Fund, recently was recently dropped from the health care amendment.
The only way to breathe new life into these left-behind programs is to reintroduce them in stand-alone bills, or to attach them to other legislative vehicles that seem likely to be approved.
The CLASP report reviews several other programs, including the Reengaging Americans in Serious Education by Uniting Programs (RAISE UP) Act, a proposal pending on the Hill to connect youth work development and education initiatives more successfully, and the Social Innovation Fund (part of the Corporation for National and Community Service), which is inviting applications now until April 8.