Reporter’s notebook

  • ED promotes new federal program for tech discount
  • Researching student parents’ experiences at community colleges
  • Preparing disconnected youths for apprenticeships
  • College-educated adults on federal assistance

ED promotes new federal program for tech discount

The U.S. Education Department on Wednesday launched an outreach campaign to inform students and families who may be eligible for a monthly discount on broadband internet service under a temporary program administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The campaign will inform millions of families with children participating in the free or reduced-price lunch or school breakfast program, and 6.5 million Pell Grant recipients that they are now eligible for the discount of up to $50 per month. Eligible individuals can apply for the discount online, via mail or through a participating service provider.

“As we recover from the pandemic, we have an opportunity to rebuild our education system back better than it was before, and providing reliable, affordable internet access to more students disproportionately impacted by the pandemic is one way we can make sure all students are set up for success,” said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program provides a monthly discount of up to $50 per month on broadband service and associated equipment (a modem, for example) for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying tribal lands. Each participating household may also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 for one connected device — a laptop, desktop or tablet computer — where available from a participating broadband provider, as long as the household contributes between $10 and $50 towards the cost of the device.

Researching student parents’ experiences at community colleges

Achieving the Dream (ATD) this week announced a new initiative to study the experiences and backgrounds of student parents attending community college, especially women.

The research will help to better understand student parents, increase equitable student success and provide data to help colleges, ATD said, noting that more than half of community college students are women, and among them, one-third are mothers, 60 percent of whom are single parents.

ATD’s agenda includes gathering more data on who these students are, labor market outcomes, recruitment and enrollment practices, student success strategies, financing education, understanding the experiences of children and community college women, and experiences during the pandemic.

“Understanding student parents’ unique and layered identities make finding and understanding the data and investigations outlined in the research agenda all the more urgent. Student parents must be part of our student success agendas that center on equity and meet our student parents where they are,” ATD President and CEO Karen Stout said in a release.

Preparing disconnected youths for apprenticeships

Jobs for the Future on Wednesday released a framework for high-quality pre-apprenticeship programs geared toward young adults who are disconnected from the workforce and education systems.

The report outlines six key characteristics of pre-apprenticeships, which aim to prepare participants for registered and other types of apprenticeships.

“While there is a comprehensive apprenticeship system for adults and a growing movement to expand access to apprenticeship for high school and college students, young people who are disconnected from the education and workforce systems or who lack the credentials and skills necessary to access postsecondary pathways are often unable to take advantage of this valuable training opportunity,” the report said.

As of January 2020, there were 4.9 million disconnected youths between ages 16 and 25, with the National Conference of State Legislatures estimating that number will grow to roughly 10 million as a result of the pandemic. Measure of America also projects that youth disconnection rates will grow, estimating that more than 25 percent of all young people could become disconnected from work and education.

College-educated adults on federal assistance

Although adults with no postsecondary education comprise most participants in four key social safety net programs, college-educated adults account for more than one-third of some programs’ recipients, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 2017, about nine million college-educated adults participated in at least one of the four government programs: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The figure includes those who attended college but never earned a degree, those who earned an associate degree and those who earned a bachelor’s (or higher) degree.

Among college-educated individuals who received benefits through the four programs, about four million had at least an associate degree and about two million had a bachelor’s (or higher) degree.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.