Media Highlights

Highlights from President Obama’s “Opportunity for All” Budget

by Melanie Anderson   •  

Following President Obama’s State of the Union address, in which he called expanding economic opportunity and mobility the “defining issue of our time,” opportunity is once again in the spotlight in his 2015 “Opportunity For All” budget. The President’s budget request closely aligns with Opportunity Nation’s policy recommendations to create more pathways to education and careers for students and young adults. Many of these new proposals would be competitively funded so that the most effective programs are rewarded and innovation is encouraged.The President also called for expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit to more low-income Americans (Read a full post on that here).

Opportunity Nation will be closely monitoring the budget process this year. We are happy to see so much emphasis on programs to expand educational access and skills training for more Americans.

Some highlights:

$150 million for high school redesign: This would support competitive grants to transform high schools by encouraging partnerships among districts, postsecondary institutions, businesses and non-profits designed to prepare students for college and career. The intent is to create learning models that are focused on real-world experiences while incorporating personalized and project based learning, and career and college exploration.

$1 billion for Career and Technical Education (CTE): state grants As part of the request, $10 million is targeted for pay-for-success projects and $100 million for a CTE innovation fund.

$110 million for STEM innovation networks: This would support competitive grants to school districts working in partnership with institutions of higher education, businesses, science agencies or other entities to promote STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These public-private partnerships would harness local, regional and national resources to replicate evidence-based practice.

$100 million for First in the World competition: The program seeks to dramatically increase the number of Americans with post-secondary degrees. The funds would incentivise innovation with rewards and build evidence of what is working to improve outcomes in postsecondary education.

$7 billion over 10 years for a College Opportunity and Graduation Bonus: This would provide grants to colleges that successfully enroll and graduate on-time a significant number of low- and moderate-income students. Funding could be used for activities such as awarding additional need-based financial aid, enhancing student support services and improving student outcomes while reducing costs and using technology to accelerate improvements.

$4 billion over 4 years in mandatory funding for a new State Higher Education Performance Fund: These competitive grants to states would support (1) implementation of performance-based funding and (2) maintain state expenditures on higher education or increase state support in low-investment states. States would be required to match federal funds dollar for dollar. (Inside Higher Ed offers an analysis of several of these proposals.)

$75 billion over 10 years for preschool for all: This would support state grants for high-quality preschool programs aligned with elementary and secondary education systems. The Department would share costs with states to provide universal access to high-quality preschool for children from low- and moderate-income families and provide incentives to serve additional children from middle-class families.

$250 million for preschool development grants: This would support state grants to expand access to high-quality programs serving four-year old children from low- and moderate-income families.

The President’s budget request notes there are numerous programs across federal agencies that provide job training and employment services. The Obama administration is exploring opportunities to streamline access, more fully engage employers and improve efficiency and employment outcomes.

$60 million for Workforce Innovation Fund: These competitive funds from the Department of Labor would be used to engage states in identifying effective models to modernize federal job training programs.

$1.5 billion for a Community College Job-Driven Training Fund: This fund would offer competitive grants to partnerships of community colleges, public and non-profit training entities, industry groups and employers designed to fund new training programs and apprenticeships. The fund is also intended to create common credentials and skills assessments to allow for easier identification of job candidates. The President requested $500 million to be set aside for grants to states and regional consortia to create new apprenticeships and increase participation in existing apprenticeship programs.

You, too have a say. The public has a chance to weigh in on President Obama’s budget request later this month. The House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations Subcommittee scheduled a public hearing for March 25. Instructions on how to submit testimony are available online

Melanie Anderson Melanie Anderson is the Director of Government and External Affairs at Opportunity Nation. She directs the campaign’s government relations and policy efforts. Read Melanie's bio.

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