Cicilline, Whitehouse Lead Charge to Expand Access to High-Quality Education

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

WASHINGTON – Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) Co-Chair David N. Cicilline (RI-01) and U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) today introduced the Community Partnerships in Education Act to bring non-profit organizations and education programs together to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century economy.

“As our economy continues to change at an unprecedented pace, we need to ensure that young people get the skills and knowledge they will need to succeed in the workforce,” said Cicilline, who led the effort to strengthen afterschool initiatives in the 2015 federal education bill. “It’s critical that we bring together leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors to ensure we are providing students with the best opportunity to obtain critical life and career skills. I’m proud to be introducing the Community Partnerships in Education Act, and I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Whitehouse to advance this important bill.”

“Afterschool programs in cities like Providence show that community groups do great work providing students with skills and knowledge they’ll need throughout their lives,” said Whitehouse.  “This bill will build on the afterschool legislation we passed into law with the K-12 education overhaul, and help young people to thrive in college and their careers.  I’m proud to partner with Congressman Cicilline, who laid the ground work for Providence’s afterschool success, to help bring this kind of collaboration to more communities around the country.”

“I am thrilled that the Rhode Island delegation has worked with after school leaders through Every Hour Counts and legislators around the country to recommend ways to better link quality after school programs and systems to CTE programs,” added Hillary Salmons, executive director of the Providence After School Alliance (PASA). “When youth are engaged in STEM programming after school they are more interested in exploring STEM career pathways in their school-based STEM CTE programs as well as after school STEM programs and summer jobs. Intermediaries are terrific and making cross sector connections that are needed for career pathways to be effective.”

The Community Partnerships in Education Act of 2017 amends the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and the Higher Education Act to elevate the critical role of intermediaries and other non-profit community partners in serving students throughout the K-12 and higher education settings. Intermediary organizations can play a critical role in expanding access to high quality education programs.

By driving improved student outcomes, increasing efficiency and promoting continuous improvement, intermediaries can help to maximize resources and ensure that students are served. That’s why the Community Partnerships in Education Act of 2017 updates the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to:

·         Include the definitions of “community partner” and “intermediary organization” to reflect the many types of organizations working in the field to help with planning and delivery of education, career training, and related programs, training educators and those who provide educational services, and forging public-private partnerships, systems development, capacity building and improving scalability and evaluation of programs;

·         Incorporate the attainment of 21st Century Skills as a performance indicator in state accountability systems, and require state and local educational agencies to report the progress of CTE students in attaining such skills;

·         Require state and local CTE plans to be developed in consultation with community partners and intermediary organizations, and require a description of how programming supported by federal funds will be carried out in partnership with such organizations; and

·         Require national evaluations of CTE programs to assess: 1) the involvement of community partners and intermediary organizations and 2) the implementation of data sharing agreements between local grant recipients and other entities to better measure success.

The Community Partnerships in Education Act also updates the Higher Education Act to:

·         Include the definitions of “community partner” and “intermediary organization” to match those that would be amended under the Perkins Act;

·         Elevate the importance of acquiring 21st Century skills by including the attainment of these skills in the outcome criteria under the TRIO Talent Search and Upward Bound Programs and authorizing the use of GEAR UP grants to support programs and activities designed to enable students to acquire 21st Century skills;

·         Require that Federal TRIO grantees, to the extent feasible, to work with community partners and intermediaries in the development and implementation of programming; 

·         Solidify the involvement of community partners in GEAR UP partnerships, and require GEAR UP grantees, to the extent feasible, to enter into data sharing agreements with community partners to better measure success, and to report on how they engage with community partners and intermediaries in planning and implementation of programming; and

·         Require that projects under the High School Equivalency Program and the College Assistance Migrant Program be implemented in partnership with community organizations and intermediaries, and require, to the extent feasible, grantees to enter into data sharing agreements with these entities.  

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