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Nuestra Iniciativa: Raise the Bar, Lead the World Priorities & Federal Opportunities

Posted Date: 02/06/2023

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Raise the Bar: Lead the World Priorities

Secretary Cardona at Raise the Bar Lead the World Announcement

Promoting academic excellence, improving learning conditions, and preparing our students for a world where global engagement is critical to our nation’s standing will be elevated as key U.S. Department of Education (ED) priorities, as outlined by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in a keynote speech to education leaders and parents on January 24, 2023. 

Following are Secretary Cardona’s key focus areas of the “Raise the Bar: Lead the World” initiative:

Secretary Cardona Raise the Bar: Lead the World Priorities

Celebrating Black Educators During National Black History Month

To begin National Black History Month, the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans invites you to celebrate the resilience, innovation, and achievements of Black educators in the history of the United States. Join their Celebration of Black Educator Excellence Virtual Event today, February 1, from 10 a.m. ET to 2 p.m. ET. Secretary Cardona will provide remarks and the event will feature educational leaders including 2019 Teacher of the Year, Rodney Robinson and 2022 National Teacher of the Year, Kurt Russell. 

USAToday: About 18 million college students got a financial boost from Biden's COVID-19 rescue law

A new ED report reveals the significant impact the American Rescue Plan is making in the lives of students in our nation. The plan Biden signed into law in March 2021, and that ED has been working to administer, included a historic $40 billion for colleges and universities via the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). About 18 million students benefitted, including 8 million students at minority-serving institutions as institutions leveraged HEERF dollars to help students cover costs during the pandemic from college tuition to other supports like food, housing, mental health care, child care. 

  • Read the USA Today story and stay tuned to the news as this report rolls out today. 

  • Read the press release

  • Students and education leaders: We’d love to hear your stories of how the American Rescue Plan and HEERF funds directly helped Latino and Spanish-dominant students, educators and families. Share your stories with us at 

Apply to serve as ED’s Inaugural Chief Diversity Officer

The Biden-Harris Administration is leading historic government-wide efforts to implement diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) strategy. In support of this work, the U.S. Department of Education is hiring for a chief diversity officer that will serve within the office of Secretary (OS) Miguel Cardona. This new member of our team will serve as a high-level expert advisor to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy in OS on matters related to the Department's mission. Among the many exciting duties, the DEIA expert will provide executive leadership and strategic direction for DEIA matters and policy development for acquisition management, grants management, and education policy portfolios to ensure DEIA issues are considered in the deliberative process. They will identify and promote best practices in DEIA from Federal, public, and private employers that may be successful at the Department and applies proven best practices and research to enable the Department to establish long-term, sustainable change to advance and promote DEIA across the Department. 

White House Task Force on New Americans Listening Sessions

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Directed by the White House Domestic Policy Council, the Task Force on New Americans supports President Joe Biden's Executive Order on restoring faith in our legal immigration systems and strengthen integration and inclusion efforts for New Americans. The task force is holding listening sessions on identifying best practices and gaps in ensuring newcomers are supported on various issues.  

Learn more and register to attend the upcoming virtual listening session: February 3, 12 p.m. ET - Evidence and Data

New ED Fact Sheet Clarifies How Civil Rights Laws Apply to School Diversity and Inclusion Activities

Yesterday, ED’s Office for Civil Rights released English and Spanish language fact sheets confirming for educators, parents, and students that diversity, equity, and inclusion training and similar activities generally are consistent with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI, a law enforced by OCR, prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. In response to confusion regarding the legality of diversity, equity, and inclusion activities in schools, this new fact sheet clarifies that federal civil rights laws do not categorically prohibit schools from offering activities such as instruction on the impact of racism, cultural competency training, or school climate surveys. We appreciate the work of our colleagues in ED’s OCR who are committed allies to our community and will continue to vigorously enforce federal civil rights laws to ensure that all students have equal access to educational opportunities.   

U.S. Department of Education Invests over $128 million to Support K-12 and Higher Education Students

Over $128 million in investments in going to K-12 school districts, non-profits, and higher education institutions thanks to the Full-Service Community SchoolPromise NeighborhoodProject Prevent, and Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education grants announced this month by ED. 

Secretary Cardona visiting Turner Elementary School in Washington DC

The Department is providing $63 million in new five-year Full-Service Community Schools (FSCS) grants to support 42 local educational agencies, non-profits, or other public or private organizations and institutions of higher education working to expand existing community schools or establish new programs in eight new states and territories, including Alabama, Alaska, Louisiana, Maryland, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Puerto Rico. 

To commemorate the announcement, Secretary Cardona visited Turner Elementary School in Washington D.C., one of two District of Columbia Public Schools with FSCS grants.

In addition, Senior Advisor Chris Soto went to Vimenti by Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico to celebrate the announcement of the first FSCS grant awarded in Puerto Rico (Photo courtesy of Departamento de Educación de Puerto Rico). The FSCS funding will ensure a strong pipeline of services, and further demonstrate the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to providing a high-quality education for all students. 

  Chris Soto with students and school leaders in Puerto Rico
Secretary Cardona visit to Kentucky to highlight Promise Neighborhood grant

ED also announced new awards totaling more than $35 million for the Promise Neighborhoods and Project Prevent grant programs. These grants provide coordinated support services and programs to students from low-income backgrounds at every stage of their education from early childhood through their careers. Four new grants totaling $23 million will focus on the implementation of services in neighborhoods that have never received support through the program. Additionally, two existing grantees will receive a total of $4 million to expand services and scale results in their communities. 

Highlighting the importance of these awards, Secretary Cardona visited two schools in Hazard, Kentucky that are supported by Partners for Rural Impact, one of the newest Promise Neighborhoods grantees.  

As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s continued efforts to prevent and reduce community violence, ED is providing nearly $8 million in new grants to 11 school districts through Project Prevent, which bolsters the capacity of local educational agencies (LEAs) impacted by community violence to implement community- and school-based strategies to help prevent community violence and mitigate the impacts of student and educators’ exposure to community violence. 

Several Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) are among the recipients of ED’s 38 awards totaling more than $30 million going to colleges and universities thanks to five competitive grant programs of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). FIPSE grants, which aim to improve higher education opportunities and outcomes for students from underrepresented communities, center on: Postsecondary Student Success Program; Basic Needs for Postsecondary Students Program; Open Textbooks Pilot Program; Centers of Excellence for Veteran Student Success; and Transitioning Gang-Involved Youth to Higher Education Program. Grantees include various HSIs such has Florida International University, University of Houston-Clear Lake and Downtown, City Colleges of Chicago, and University of Puerto Rico, Ponce.

Meet Meg Medina, 2023-2024 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

Meg Medina is now the Library of Congress’ first Latina inaugurated to serve as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. This prestigious role raises national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education and the development and betterment of the lives of young people. For her two-year term as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Ms. Medina will engage readers across the country via her platform "Cuéntame!: Let’s talk books." The White House Hispanic Initiative congratulates Meg Medina on this historic honor. 

Additional Dates to Note

  • February 1: Black History Month 

  • February 1, 10 a.m. ET: Virtual Event: White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans’ Celebration of Black Educator Excellence 

  • February 1, 12:30 p.m. ET: