Breakthrough Central Texas champions federal, state and local policies that promote equity in college attainment and that support students to succeed on their path to college graduation. Reflecting the perspective of our more than 2,000 students and college graduates, their families and our staff members and partners, we speak out for students who aspire to be the first in their families to graduate from college, students from low-income backgrounds, students of color and students from immigrant families.
In recent weeks we have followed policy developments in response to COVID-19 that are impacting students in K-12 and higher education settings. We applaud the many efforts by school districts, institutes of higher education, and government agencies to provide financial support and remove barriers to continuing education.
Below are just a few policy initiatives that we are supporting:
Supporting the City of Austin's RISE Fund
Breakthrough stands in strong support of the City of Austin’s effort to provide financial assistance to families deeply impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The $15 million Relief in a State of Emergency (RISE) Fund, approved by Austin City Council in late April, distributes $2,000 in cash assistance directly to families most affected by the economic consequences of the health crisis, especially to families unable to benefit from the federal CARES act. The RISE funds are being distributed now, supporting families to find or maintain housing, buy groceries, and support their physical well-being.
At Breakthrough, we know this means real support for families with children or young adults so they can continue to learn and progress on their path to college. In fact, Breakthrough was selected as an organization to help distribute some of these funds. Through the Family Independence Initiative (FII), 50 Breakthrough families received the cash assistance last week. Thank you to the City of Austin and FII for their leadership in providing such needed support at this time.
Please contact your city council member to voice your support of the RISE fund as they consider adding additional dollars.
Supporting Texas College Students During COVID-19
Breakthrough is a proud member of the Austin College Attainment Network (ACAN), a group of 14 nonprofits and higher education institutions committed to ending the inequity in college attainment in our region. ACAN joined forces with the Postsecondary Advocates Coalition (PAC), a statewide network of higher education policy leaders, to raise our voices in support of college students in Texas, especially first-generation students, students of color and students from immigrant families.
The Open Letter to Texas Leaders on Supporting College Students makes 12 recommendations for steps the Texas legislature can take either immediately or when they return to session in 2021. On Thursday, April 23, ACAN and PAC held a joint policy briefing to raise awareness of the 12 recommendations to elected officials and higher education leaders across the state. You can find a link to a recording of the webinar here.
Standing Behind DACA Students
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program supports the educational paths of thousands of Central Texas students, empowering college graduations and the fulfillment of lifelong dreams. This month a ruling on the program is being considered by the Supreme Court.
Please consider adding your own voice, along with Breakthrough’s, in support of DACA students, their college aspirations and all the ways they contribute to the Central Texas community.
Advocating to Leaders in Congress to Increase Internet Access
Right now, students and families face a new reality: The gap between those with resources and those without is dramatically more pronounced than it was before this global health-turned-educational crisis. Recently, Breakthrough signed on to a letter, along with more than 50 organizations nationwide including a couple others from Central Texas, to increase broadband access to all students.
Supporting Increased Opportunities to Serve in AmermeriCorps
Breakthrough is a proud AmeriCorps program and believes in the power of service and the opportunity it provides to AmeriCorps members. We have signed on to support the ideas behind the Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act.
Join us in advocating for increasing opportunities to serve, including increasing the living stipend for AmeriCorps members across the country.
We hope you find the information useful and we hope you can share your support for these initiatives to elected officials and to leaders at education institutions. Together we can promote policies that lead to more college breakthroughs across our region and beyond.