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Tri-Caucus Releases Higher Education Act Reauthorization Priorities

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — The Chairs of the Congressional Tri-Caucus –Congressional Black (CBC) Caucus Chair Karen Bass (CA-37), Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Chair Joaquin Castro (TX-20), and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chair Judy Chu (CA-27) – released their Tri-Caucus Higher Education Priorities for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

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Congresswoman Karen Bass (File Photo)

By Sentinel News Service

The Chairs of the Congressional Tri-Caucus –Congressional Black (CBC) Caucus Chair Karen Bass (CA-37), Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Chair Joaquin Castro (TX-20), and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chair Judy Chu (CA-27) – released their Tri-Caucus Higher Education Priorities for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

These Tri-Caucus Priorities identify the best way to address educational inequities for students of color. They include strengthening the capacity of Minority Serving Institutions, the quality of education offered at all institutions of higher education, and resources that help students of every income level and background succeed. Finally, they include priorities most important to our communities, like support for undocumented youth and programs that ensure the recruitment and retention of teachers of color.

The priorities were also endorsed by the Tri-Caucus education chairs: CHC Education and Labor Task Force Chair Raúl Grijalva (AZ-3), CAPAC Education Task Force Chair Mark Takano (CA-41), and CBC Education and Labor Task Force Co-Chairs Danny Davis (IL-7), Frederica Wilson (FL-24), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12).

“Higher education is the pathway to financial security and professional success for many in our communities of color. The Congressional Tri-Caucus is proud to introduce our Higher Education Priorities and take a stand for students of color across the country,” said the Tri-Caucus Chairs. “Our communities have unique education needs, and we have a proud heritage in our Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions. As we strive for the success of these schools and students of color everywhere, our priorities outline the keys to their success, including supporting their financial needs, strengthening the education they receive, and ensuring they are competitive in the workforce. These priorities will open doors of opportunity for students of every background, from first generation college students to undocumented youth and every community from urban to rural. We hope that, with these guidelines to our federal policy, we will help every student of color attain success and fulfill the promise of the American dream.”

The Tri-Caucus Higher Education Principles are as follows:

Tri-Caucus Priorities for the Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act

in the 116th Congress

 

Improve College Affordability

Federal Pell Grants and Work Study 

  • Increase the maximum award level of Pell Grants so they better align with the rising cost of higher education.
  • Index Pell Grants to inflation.
  • Revise the formula used to allocate work study funds based on student need and Pell Grant aid.
  • Provide tuition-free and debt-free colleges and universities by investing in federal-state partnerships to make a four-year college degree possible to achieve without debt.
  • Increase funding for Federal Work Study at institutions that enroll high levels of Pell Grant recipients.
  • Improve access to work study opportunities aligned with academic study and career interests, including those in community service-learning programs for low-income students.
  • Establish additional funding for students that complement Pell Grants. This funding would cover costs of living (food, housing, transportation, etc.) and non-tuition educational costs (books, fees, etc.).
  • Restore Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated people.
  • Extend Federal Financial aid eligibility to undocumented students and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients.
  • Maintain year-round Pell Grant availability.
  • Provide new Pell Grant eligibility for short term training programs offered at community colleges.
  • Include language assistance for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and any other documents related to financial aid.
  • Simplify FAFSA by allowing data from other federal agencies (such as IRS) to be used in the application to reduce the number of questions and in addition the following –
    • Deem students eligible for a zero expected family contribution (EFC) determination if the student or the student’s parents are recipients of a means tested program.
    • Increase the income threshold to qualify for zero EFC to $50,000.
    •  Eliminate the Selective Service registration and prior drug conviction question from the student eligibility criteria for federal student aid.
    • Simplify the determination process for homeless and foster care youth.
  • Improve information tools, financial literacy and require the Department of Education to partner with institutions to standardize financial aid award letters and terminology.
  • Provide small-dollar emergency grants for students to help students continue their education rather than dropping out due to financial concerns.

Federal Student Loans  

  • Reduce the student loan debt burden for borrower’s past, present, and future.
  • Protect the Grad Plus Loans and Parent Plus Loans programs.
  • Protect the Income Based Repayment Program.
  • Protect the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) programs. Ensure individual borrowers receive clear information about the status of their loans, correct loan repayment plans, and all qualifying PSLF payments. As well as require the ability to seamlessly enroll in PSLF and TEPSLF electronically.
  • Improve student loan counseling to help students borrow wisely and manage debt repayment.
  • Restructure the Federal Student Aid office to serve students better. Automate recertification of borrowers’ incomes while they are enrolled in income-driven repayment plans using information on file at the Department of Treasury.
  • Automate enrollment into income driven plans for borrowers who are severely delinquent on their loans.
  • Automatic verification of totally and permanently disabled borrowers’ continued eligibility for a loan discharge during the three-year monitoring period.
  • Automatic enrollment of defaulted borrowers in an income-driven repayment plan upon completion of loan rehabilitation.
  • Protect students from institutions that engage in predatory practices by codifying the borrowers defense to repayment rule.
  • Protect students from low-quality programs by holding institutions accountable and codifying the gainful employment rule.
  • Require post-secondary institutions to use language in financial aid offers that clearly indicate which components of the package are loans.

II. Strengthen the Capacity of HBCUs and Minority-Serving Institutions 

  • Authorize permanent mandatory funding for HCBUs and all MSIs as currently defined in HEA.
  • Protect current investments and statutory programs and increase federal funding for MSIs and HBCUs.
  • Provide increased and sustainable support and funding for the AANAPISI Program to help underserved students overcome barriers to a college degree, by increasing funding authorization for the AANAPISI Program to $60 million.
  • Establish a post-baccalaureate grant program for AANAPISIs that already exists for other MSIs.
  • Provide robust and sustainable support and funding for the Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions Program by authorizing an increased level of funding.
  • Increase Funding for teacher preparation programs at MSIs.
  • Make permanent HSI STEM Articulation Program under Title III, Part F which is scheduled to expire at the end of Fiscal Year 2019.
  • Increase Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics (STEAM) resources directed to communities of color.
  • Ensure that HBCUs & MSIs have funding for students of color to enter technology fields that will better prepare them for the future of work.
  • Update the Strengthening Institutions – Tribal College Program at the Department of Education (HEA Title III Part A &F)
  • Ensure funding for the Tribal College & University and American Indian & Alaska Native Language Revitalization and Training Program.

III. Improve Education Quality and Student Success

  • Encourage and expand access for low-income students to dual enrollment, early college, and similar programs in high schools.
  • Promote improved coordination of community colleges and four-year institutions to ensure ability to transfer credits between institutions.
  • Increased funds for K-12 and higher education mentorship programs.
  • Consider developing an incentive program within Title IV to reward institutions that increase graduation rates of Pell students, ensuring no penalty to institutions that educate low-income students.
  • Increase federal support for first year student retention and success programs.
  • Increase college access and improve college completion for service members and veterans.
  • Support workforce training programs including those offered at community colleges.
  • Maintain provisions that prohibit institutions from engaging in agreements with financial institutions that predatorily market financial products to students.
  • Develop accountability metrics that protect students from predatory for-profit educational institutions.
  • Address the 90/10 loophole to protect Veterans from predatory for-profit educational institutions by moving the ratio to 85/15.
  • Incentivize institutions to create support programs to ensure students graduate on time.
  • Encourage institutions to establish an accessibility office to support mental health services for students.
  • Allow students with disabilities to use their existing documentation of a disability (IEP, 504 plans) to access accommodations at institutions of higher education.
  • Create a program modeled on the federally-funded DC Tuition Assistance Grant providing tuition assistance for graduates of Northern Marianas College and American Samoa Community College who want to pursue a four-year degree at any public university in other parts of the United States.
  • Maintain integrity and accountability of gatekeeping system for Federal accreditation and State licensure policies.
  • Increase funding for federal Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program to meet student-parents’ need for affordable childcare.
  • Authorize the creation of Native American language revitalization program that awards grants for Native American language programs appropriate for the population served at institutions that serve American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians or Native American Pacific Islanders.
  • Increase resources to Institutes of Higher Education (IHEs) to increase graduation rates.
  • Support a $40 million competitive grant to provide funding for school districts across the country to support STEM education for girls, students of color, LGBTQ students, and students with disabilities.
  • Improve civil rights enforcement to protect college students from harassment and discrimination: Any HEA reauthorization must strengthen protections from discrimination and harassment through additional reporting under the Clery Act and stronger enforcement penalties for colleges aiming to skirt reporting and accountability.
  • Ensure university officials are held accountable for hate crimes and hate-based incidents that occur on their campuses by requiring accreditors to asses’ institutions of higher education campus safety programs during the accreditation process, including the annual dissemination of certain information to students and faculty.
  • Protect students from incidents of hazing through educational programs and bolstering reporting requirements.
  • Improve access to student voting on college campuses –
    • Define “good faith effort” to distribute voter registration forms in the Higher Education Act to mean sending correspondence at least twice a year and no less than 30 days before voter registration deadlines for federal and state elections, with links to voter registration information.
    • Designate a staff member or office as the “Campus Vote Coordinator” to answer student questions about voter registration.
    • Provide a right of action against those institutions that engage in patterns of violating this law.

IV. Promote College Readiness for Students of Color, First Generation Students and Disadvantaged Students

  • Increase funding and strengthen GEAR-UP, TRIO, HEP-CAMP as needed and other federal funded college access programs to help minority students, low-income students, students who would be first-generation college students, and students who are English language learners access and complete college.
  • Ensure that GEAR-UP, TRIO, HEP/CAMP and other federal funded college access programs are reaching schools predominantly attended by low-income students, minority students, students who would be first-generation college students, and students who are English language learners.
  • Maintain GEAR-UP, TRIO, and HEP/CAMP as separate federal programs.
  • Reform and streamline the Department of Education’s (ED) grants appeals process to ensure institutions of higher education and other qualified organizations with long-standing, high-quality programs can appeal ED’s decisions with technical assistance and a peer-review process to ensure a continuation of funds that service vulnerable student populations.
  • Continue to provide information to low-income high school students through existing federal college access program on how to navigate the financial aid process and estimate actual cost of attendance.
  • Continue to support programs that provide financial literacy and financial aid counseling to low-income, minority, first generation, and English Learner students.
  • Establish funding that supports English Learner Educators.
  • Promote applied experiences for students and support experiential learning.
  • Require institutions to provide students with information about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to ensure students have the information they need to access benefits for which they may be eligible.

V. Increase the Recruitment and Retention of Teachers of Color

  • Expand high-quality outreach and recruitment programs for minority teachers at both the undergraduate and graduate levels through financial assistance, including loan forgiveness, and technical support while improving and expanding retention efforts for educators of color.
  • Increase support for teacher education and professional development, including special education, teacher quality grants, and teacher residence programs.
  • Include language that prioritizes teacher preparation programs that recruit and retain students of color, and programs that recruit students to teach into high-need shortage fields such as English Learner or bilingual teachers.
  • Establish grants to fund development of teacher preparation programs to train teachers on evidence-based English Learners instruction
  • Require teacher preparation programs to report the pass rate and average score of students taking state teacher performance assessments, and the number of students in the program, by race, ethnicity, and gender.

VI. Support Graduate Student Access, Affordability, Quality, and Student Success

  • Support increased funding and strengthen graduate programs at HBCUs, MSIs and Tribal Colleges and Universities.
  • Expand eligibility for the Subsidized Stafford Loan Program to students enrolled in graduate programs and allow Pell Grants to be used for graduate programs.
  • Reauthorize and strengthen Title III and Title V HBCU and MSI graduate programs and the Patsy Mink Fellowship Program.

VII. Support Access, Participation, and Success for Undocumented Youth

  • Allow Dreamers, TPS recipients, otherwise undocumented students to apply for financial aid under FAFSA to protect them from loan servicer and fraud abuse.
  • Permit Dreamers , TPS recipients, and otherwise undocumented students to be eligible for Pell Grants, federal student loans, work study and federally funded college access programs.
  • Require post-secondary institutions to give in-state tuition to Dreamers, TPS recipients, and otherwise undocumented students who reside in the state of the institution.
  • Allow Dreamers, TPS recipients, and otherwise undocumented students to participate in GEAR UP and TRIO programs.
  • Strengthen grant programs that assist institutions of higher education (IHEs) in establishing or developing minority student support centers, specifically for undocumented students.

VIII. Improving Data Systems in Postsecondary Education 

  • Create a student level data network with all racial groups, racial subgroups, and ethnicities as recognized in the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to ensure schools are being held accountable to relevant and useful measures.
  • Increase data collection, while safeguarding student’s personal information, of student transfers and graduation outcomes by the Department of Education to improve understanding of student completion rates.
  • Disaggregate undergraduate, graduate, and professional school enrollment data by all racial groups, racial subgroups, and ethnicities as recognized in the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Adjust the criteria of students tracked through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) so that it captures more community college students and includes part time students, non-first-time students, and students with an intent other than seeking a degree.

This article originally appeared in The Los Angeles Sentinel.

#LetItBeKnown

Fighting an Unjust System, The Bail Project Helps People Get Out of Jail and Reunites Families

In addition to posting bail at no cost to the person or their family, The Bail Project works to connect its clients to social services and community resources based on an individual’s identified needs, including substance use treatment, mental health support, stable housing and employment.

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Adrienne Johnson, the regional director for The Bail Project, told NNPA’s Let It Be Known that the organization seeks to accomplish its mission one person at a time.
Adrienne Johnson, the regional director for The Bail Project, told NNPA’s Let It Be Known that the organization seeks to accomplish its mission one person at a time.

Hundreds of thousands of individuals locked up in jails almost daily — many find it challenging to pay bail

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

As public support for criminal justice reform continues to build — and as the pandemic raises the stakes higher — advocates remain adamant that it’s more important than ever that the facts are straight, and everyone understands the bigger picture.

“The U.S. doesn’t have one ‘criminal justice system;’ instead, we have thousands of federal, state, local, and tribal systems,” Wendy Sawyer and Peter Wagner found in a study released by the nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative.

Together, these systems hold almost 2 million people in 1,566 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 2,850 local jails, 1,510 juvenile correctional facilities, 186 immigration detention facilities, and 82 Indian country jails, as well as in military prisons, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories,” the study authors said in a press release.

With hundreds of thousands of individuals locked up in jails almost daily, many find it challenging to pay bail.

Recognizing America’s ongoing mass incarceration problem and the difficulties families have in bailing out their loved ones, a new organization began in 2018 to offer some relief.

The Bail Project, a nationwide charitable fund for pretrial defendants, started with a vision of combating mass incarceration by disrupting the money bail system.

Adrienne Johnson, the regional director for The Bail Project, told NNPA’s Let It Be Known that the organization seeks to accomplish its mission one person at a time.

“We have a mission of doing exactly what we hope our criminal system would do: protect the presumption of innocence, reunite families, and challenge a system that we know can criminalize poverty,” Johnson stated.

“Our mission is to end cash bail and create a more just, equitable, and humane pretrial system,” she insisted.

Johnson said The Bronx Freedom Fund, at the time a new revolving bail fund that launched in New York, planted the seed for The Bail Project more than a decade ago.

“Because bail is returned at the end of a case, we can build a sustainable revolving fund where philanthropic dollars can be used several times per year, maximizing the impact of every contribution,” Johnson stated.

In addition to posting bail at no cost to the person or their family, The Bail Project works to connect its clients to social services and community resources based on an individual’s identified needs, including substance use treatment, mental health support, stable housing and employment.

Johnson noted that officials created cash bail to incentivize people to return to court.

Instead, she said, judges routinely set cash bail well beyond most people’s ability to afford it, resulting in thousands of legally innocent people incarcerated while they await court dates.

According to The Bail Project, Black Americans are disproportionately impacted by cash bail, and of all Black Americans in jail in the U.S., nearly half are from southern prisons.

“There is no way to do the work of advancing pretrial reform without addressing the harmful effects of cash bail in the South,” said Robin Steinberg, Founder, and CEO of The Bail Project.

“Cash bail fuels racial and economic disparities in our legal system, and we look forward to supporting the community in Greenville as we work to eliminate cash bail and put ourselves out of business.”

Since its launch, The Bail Project has stationed teams in more than 25 cities, posting bail for more than 18,000 people nationwide.

Johnson said the organization uses its national revolving bail fund, powered by individual donations, to pay bail.

The Bail Project has spent over $47 million on bail.

“When we post bail for a person, we post the full cash amount at court,” Johnson stated.

“Upon resolution of the case, the money returns to whoever posted. So, if I posted $5,000 to bail someone out, we then help the person get back to court and resolve the case,” she continued.

“The money then comes back to us, and we can use that money to help someone else. So, we recycle that.”

Johnson said eliminating cash bail and the need for bail funds remains the goal.

“It’s the just thing to do. It restores the presumption of innocence, and it restores families,” Johnson asserted.

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PRESS ROOM: EPA Administrator Regan to Join Leaders of Civil Rights, Environmental Justice Movement for Significant Announcement in Warren County, North Carolina

NNPA NEWSWIRE — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan will be joined by significant figures from the civil rights and environmental justice movements, including Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and other participants from the original Warren County protests for the event.
The post PRESS ROOM: EPA Administrator Regan to Join Leaders of Civil Rights, Environmental Justice Movement for Significant Announcement in Warren County, North Carolina first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Administrator to honor legacy of environmental justice and civil rights at event in Warren County, site of protests that launched the movement 40 years ago

WASHINGTON (September 22, 2022) – On Saturday, September 24, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan will travel to Warren County, North Carolina to deliver remarks on EPA’s environmental justice and civil rights priorities and the progress we’ve achieved since the first protest and march that launched the movement 40 years ago this week. Administrator Regan will make a significant announcement on President Biden’s commitment to elevate environmental justice and civil rights enforcement at EPA and across the federal government and ensure the work to support our most vulnerable communities continues for years to come.

Administrator Regan will be joined by significant figures from the civil rights and environmental justice movements, including participants from the original Warren County protests for the event.

Who:
EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan
Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01)
Environmental Justice and Civil Rights Leaders
Warren County residents and community leaders
Additional stakeholders

What: Remarks on EPA environmental justice and civil rights priorities and honoring the legacy of the environmental justice and civil rights movement
When: Saturday, September 24, 2022,
Doors Open: 11:30 AM ET
Program: 12:45 PM ET
;
Where: Warren County Courthouse
109 S Main Street
Warrenton, NC 27589
Livestream: A livestream of this event will be available at epa.gov/live.

The post PRESS ROOM: EPA Administrator Regan to Join Leaders of Civil Rights, Environmental Justice Movement for Significant Announcement in Warren County, North Carolina first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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September 26 | Governance at the Local Level | The Conversation with Al McFarlane

Join Al McFarlane (Host), Brenda Lyle-Gray (Co-Host) and Special Guest Co-Host Diana Hawkins, Executive Director for …
The post September 26 | Governance at the Local Level | The Conversation with Al McFarlane first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Join Al McFarlane (Host), Brenda Lyle-Gray (Co-Host) and Special Guest Co-Host Diana Hawkins, Executive Director for …

The post September 26 | Governance at the Local Level | The Conversation with Al McFarlane first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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