Breakthrough’s policy and advocacy initiatives working to remove barriers to college access and success, build power, and improve the quality of life of Breakthrough students and their communities, continues across legislative, institutional and internal domains.
Here are some of our latest efforts:
- College Scorecard Tool: The U.S. Department of Education revamped the College Scorecard tool to add information about include institutional level data on student loan debt (and by field of study), repayment rates, and other metrics on college costs, graduation rates and post-graduation earnings.
- Honoring and Celebrating Black History Month: A Collection of Inspiration (Honoring Black Lives and Contributions During Black History Month, curated by IDRA):
- How to Support Black Lives Matter, Wherever You Are: Nine ways to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Kids’ Books about Race that Celebrate Diversity and Inclusion: Some titles for your shelf.
- How to Talk About Race, Justice and Equality with Your Children: A round-up of age-appropriate books, videos and online resources.
- Black Girls Do STEM: Tools for girls to explore various STEM careers across multiple industries and has a mentor directory.
- 16 Black History Month STEM Activities: List of activities to help youth learn about contributions of Black scientists and STEM professionals.
- Sign up for The Future Focused Texas Newsletter: Future Focused TX is a collective initiative to help Texas high school classes of 2021 and 2022 in pursuing their post-secondary educational goals, despite the effects of COVID-19.
- College Emergency Aid: More than $2.5 billion in emergency aid has been sent to Texas higher ed institutions for distribution to students impacted by the pandemic. Learn more in this Emergency Aid Checklist & Email Template and Higher Education Emergency Aid FAQ created by BT CTX and partners from TX PACE, a group of Texas organizations focused on equity in college access, affordability, completion and supports.
- Congress will take a few more weeks to settle federal funding –While fiscal year 2022 (FY22) technically began back on Oct. 1, lawmakers have still yet to reach an agreement on funding levels. By preparing a 3-week extension of funding to avoid government shutdown, Congress’ new deadline is likely to be March 11. Note that the delay means that the maximum Pell Grant for the 2022-23 award year is not yet established (as also reported by the Washington Post).
- The White House Department and of Education announced a new $200 million grant program to help institutions of higher education continue to support students’ basic needs.
- The Hope Center, a new BT CTX partner through our participation in the #RealCollegeTX policy initiative, released Basic Needs Insecurity at Historically Black Colleges and Universities: A #RealCollege HBCU Report. The report uses data from the #RealCollege Survey to examine the overlapping challenges affecting students attending HBCUs during fall 2020. Thanks so much to #RealCollegeTX Task Force members Paul Quinn College, Prairie View A&M and Texas Southern University for their participation in the survey behind this important study.
- A broad coalition of organizations joined NCAN in urging the Biden administration to extend the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) verification waivers granted for the 2021-22 award year.
Some language borrowed from the President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration and the COA Equity Office Immigrant Affairs Update
- COMPETES Act Passes the House: The America COMPETES Act of 2021 passed the House down party lines. Forbes reports that if these provisions make it through Senate negotiations, “the measures in the bill could become the most significant on legal immigration to pass Congress in more than 30 years.” For thorough analyses into the bill’s content, see here and here. Through amendment, the bill also extends Pell Grant-eligibility to short-term training programs and directs the federal government to create a database of college student outcomes. These provisions, and the overall package, will need to be discussed/reconciled with
- Participate: Early voting in Texas Primaries (What’s a primary? Explainer) in underway. Locations and times found here. Vote411 lets you develop your own ballot using their voting guide.
- Attend: Put on by Mission Capital and a mental health collaborative in Austin, Mental Health First Aid is a full-day training where you learn about how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness and substance abuse, giving you skills to reach out and provide support to someone experiencing or developing a mental health or substance use problem. Click the links below to sign up for the Mental Health First Aid course that meets your needs. All sessions will include approximately 2 hours of pre-work, in addition to the approximately 6 hours of instruction time (including lunch break). Space is limited in each session, so register soon.
- February 24 – Mental Health First Aid (Adult, Virtual)
- March 2 – Mental Health First Aid (Youth, Virtual)
- April 27 – Mental Health First Aid (Adult, In-Person, South Lamar location)(password mhfa4/27)
- May 5 – Mental Health First Aid (Youth, In-Person, South Lamar location)(password mhfa5/5)
- Austin’s Black immigrant population is growing. The Black population in the United States — and Texas — is diversifying because of global immigration, according to a report from the Pew Research Center. The group makes up a relatively small share of Austin’s foreign-born population, but the number has more than doubled in the last 10 years, with over one-third having arrived since 2010, according to Austin demographer Lila Valencia.
- Raise Your Hand Texas to Host Candidate Forums: We are continuing our For the Future candidate forum series for Texas legislative races prior to the March 1, 2022 primary election. As always, these events will be non-partisan, open to all candidates in a given race, and focused exclusively on public education issues.
- Texas House District 51 Forum (South Austin) February 24, 2022, at 7:00pm – 8pm.
- Some new races/seats are the result of redistricting. What is redistricting? (Texas Advocates File Federal Lawsuit to Block Racially Discriminatory Redistricting)