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

Every Hour Counts is delighted to announce that House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) Co-Chair David N. Cicilline (RI-01) and U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) 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. Original co-sponsors include: Eliot Engel (NY), Pramila Jayapal (WA), Ro Khanna (CA), Barbara Lee (CA), Betty McCollum (MN), John Conyers (MI), Charlie Crist (FL), Dwight Evans (PA), Jimmy Gomez (CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX).

“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 Representative 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.”

Every Hour Counts worked closely with Representative Cicilline and Senator Whitehouse on the proposal, which would amend 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 play a critical role in expanding access to high quality education programs. By driving improved student outcomes, increasing efficiency and promoting continuous improvement, intermediaries help to maximize resources and ensure that students are served.

​“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 Senator 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 groundwork for Providence’s afterschool success, to help bring this kind of collaboration to more communities around the country.”

We are excited to see that the Community Partnerships in Education Act of 2017 updates the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to:

  • Ensure states and districts work with community partners and intermediary organizations in planning and carrying out career and technical education programming and encourage the use of data sharing agreements to better measure success.
  • Require evaluations of CTE programs to assess the level of involvement of community partners and intermediary organizations and the implementation of data sharing agreements to better measure success.
  • Emphasize the importance of 21st Century Skills within career and technical education programs.
  • Include definitions of “community partner” and “intermediary organization” to reflect the many types of organizations working in these fields.

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

  • Require projects supported by higher education student support programs, including TRIO, GEAR UP, High School Equivalency and College Assistance Migrant Program (HEP CAMP) to be developed and implemented, to the extent feasible, with community partners and intermediaries in order to expand access to high quality programming.
  • Require grantees under GEAR UP and HEP CAMP grantees, to the extent feasible, to enter into data sharing agreements with community partners to better measure programming and student success.
  • Elevate the importance of 21st Century skills within Federal TRIO and GEAR UP programs.
  • Include definitions of “community partner” and “intermediary organization” to reflect the many types of organizations working to provide critical student support services within higher education.

Every Hour Counts was inspired by the on-the-ground efforts of our national coalition members to suggest these improvements to the Perkins CTE Act and Higher Education Act. The work of the Providence After School Alliance provides an exemplar of how to successfully link more than 100 career-related courses in middle and high school to career pathway strategies that are supported by Perkins funds.

“We know that when young people are engaged in STEM programming after-school, they become more interested in exploring STEM career pathways in their school-based STEM CTE programs, as well as STEM summer jobs. Intermediaries are terrific at making the kinds of cross-sector connections that are necessary for career pathways to be effective.” – Hillary Salmons, Executive Director, Providence After-School Alliance.

Every Hour Counts applauds Congressman Cicilline and Senator Whitehouse for their leadership on these issues and for elevating the role of intermediaries and community-based educators in providing services to students pursuing a college education or career training.