Futures Agenda

Explore the Future
Plank One: A New Promise for Families
Plank Two: A Roadmap to Youth Thriving
Plank Three: A Gateway to a Fulfilling Future
Plank One:
A New Promise for Families ensures every child and family the resources to thrive. Our goal is a future where no caregiver must choose between providing and family responsibilities. A future where every child enters school safely, fed, and ready to learn. And a future where every child has their basic needs met — and a liveable climate to call home.
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Through A New Promise for Families, we envision a society where all children and families see possibility, not impossible choices and a stacked deck.

Explore A New Promise for Families
1.1 Guarantee all families strong supports for their health and wellbeing — from the very earliest moments.
1.1.1 | Guarantee all families access to high-quality healthcare and robust community-based supports, ending our ongoing crisis in maternal mortality — and the racial disparities in maternal health outcomes.
  • Robustly fund community-based organizations led by Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, which are improving maternal health, supporting new families, and promoting equity in those communities that are most affected by the maternal mortality crisis — including supports for caregivers facing challenges surrounding mental health and substance use.
  • Fund programs to grow and diversify the pre- and perinatal workforce — midwives, doulas, and community nurses — to ensure that every family in America receives culturally responsive maternity care and support. Ensure that such services are fully covered by Medicaid and other health plans. See demand #14 for more details regarding the care workforce.
  • Improve data collection and quality measures to better understand the causes of the U.S. maternal health crisis and inform solutions that will address the crisis. Include contextual and experiential evidence as well as research data, being sure to center the voices, experiences, and needs of pregnant people — especially those of color — and directly impacted communities. 
  • Improve maternal healthcare and support for incarcerated parents, including through laws that prohibit shackling during childbirth. 
  • Ensure that all people have access to comprehensive, high-quality health insurance that includes physical, behavioral health, dental, and vision insurance, provided through either a single payer or “public option” approach that gives all people access to affordable care. Until this policy is in place, complete Medicaid expansion in states that have not yet taken this step.
1.1.2 | Guarantee all workers who are welcoming a new child into their family generous and secure paid leave, so that they can get to know, bond with, and care for their new children.
  • Create a program of paid family and medical leave that incorporates the strongest and most generous elements of state programs like Massachusetts, Oregon, Minnesota, and other leaders, ensuring that all caregivers — as well as all workers with their own serious health issues — have the best protections around replacement wages, duration of leave, how “family” is defined, workplace protections, and when leave is available. 
  • Ensure funding, either for direct staffing or for partnerships, for robust education, outreach, enforcement, and evaluation practices to ensure that all workers who need family and medical leave know about and can use the program — and so the government and other stakeholders can evaluate whether the program is being used and implemented equitably. 
1.1.3 | Guarantee every family access to culturally responsive, high-quality parenting supports and connections to critical services, including through home visiting, resource hubs, and early childhood specialists in primary care offices.
  • Provide new caregivers access to free evidence-informed home-visiting programs, including by scaling the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program so that it can fully meet existing need — and by ensuring that it can fund evidence-informed models developed by communities.
  • Provide all families access to “Family Support Hubs” or “Family Resource Hubs” able to provide free, voluntary resources to families, including resources like parenting supports, counseling and therapy, wellness programs, financial literacy, service navigation, health services, computer literacy, diaper banks, food pantries, housing supports, support groups, and more.
1.1.4 | Guarantee all expecting parents access to the full continuum of reproductive care.
  • Codify Roe v. Wade, restoring the right each person has to make their own medical decisions and restricting government intervention in how medical professionals can provide reproductive care, including abortion and abortion care.
  • Ensure that reproductive care is available to all, regardless of immigration status.
  • Ensure that young adults can access birth control and reproductive care using school-based health centers, as well as other means to reach youth who may struggle to access these services. See demand #9 for more details regarding school-based health services.
1.1.5 | Guarantee all children and families access to hot meals and healthy foods.
  • Strengthen the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other nutrition programs that serve as a safety net for children and families, including by removing bans that deny participation to those who have a felony conviction. See demand #4 for more details regarding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. 
  • Incentivize and directly subsidize community organizations — including coops and nonprofits — to establish grocery stores, farmers markets, and community gardens that serve areas without affordable, high-quality grocery options.
  • Provide universal free meals at all public schools, as well as all publicly-run child care, early childhood, and afterschool, summertime, and out-of-school programs that cover meal times.
1.2 Guarantee every family a seamless pipeline of high-quality, affordable child care and early learning that begins during infancy.
1.2.1 | Guarantee all families access to free, high-quality child care and early learning that extends from birth to kindergarten.
  • Ensure that all families have access to high-quality paid leave. See demand #1 for more details regarding paid leave. 
  • Ensure that all children have guaranteed places available in high-quality child care and early learning programs — at no cost to them — from the moment that their paid leave concludes.
  • Prioritize federal funding for child care and early learning programs that offer two-generational, culturally responsive programming, and increase funding as needed to help centers launch these services.
  • Ensure substantial public investment to improve and support the quality of all early childhood settings, guaranteeing robust, innovative, and sustainable funding for these programs, and encourage evidence-informed transition practices into kindergarten programs.
  • Require that all child care and early childhood positions offer workers the dignity that they deserve, including through living wages, full benefits, and workforce protections, and ensure that federal programs are large enough to pay workers a living wage. See demand #14 for more details regarding the care workforce.
  • Ensure that all students have access to high-quality, full-day kindergarten programs.
1.2.2 | Guarantee all families with school-age children child care and afterschool programs during school holidays, in-service days, summer, and any time school is not in session, while empowering youth to shape the programming offered.
  • Ensure universal access to affordable, enriching out-of-school time care by deeply subsidizing local governments, school districts, nonprofits, and community-based organizations that partner to provide child care during school holidays, in-service days, summer and other vacations, and after school.
  • Incentivize and require jurisdictions to incorporate youth and family input, choice, and feedback when shaping and running these expanded learning and out-of-school time experiences, ensuring that programs meet the needs of both parents and students.
  • Require that all out-of-school time programs offer parents programming free to them, ensuring that cost is never a barrier to participation, and factor transportation access into all afterschool and enrichment programming. See demand #8 for more details regarding enrichment programming. 
  • Invest deeply in national service and other programs that can further expand the volume of out-of-school and afterschool personnel available, such as through new Peer Success and Youth Achievement Corps, and elevate these investments to a national priority. See demand #11 for more details regarding national service.
1.3 Guarantee every family clean air to breathe, safe water to drink, and a sustainable climate.
1.3.1 | Guarantee all youth and families a sustainable climate that allows them to thrive, as well as accurate education about the risks and potential solutions accompanying climate change.
  • Pass a Green New Deal that fully transitions the country toward a renewable energy economy using massive investments in climate, racial and Indigenous justice, and green, union jobs.
  • Make transformative investments in climate adaptation and resilience, preparing communities impacted first and hardest by the climate crisis.
  • Make transformative investments in transportation, agriculture, and other key sectors to reduce emissions and provide affordable, sustainable food and transportation for all people.
  • Eliminate emissions and pollution in the public infrastructure that we need to live, such as through Green New Deals for Public Schools and Housing. 
  • Ensure that all students have access to high-quality instruction surrounding climate change and other scientific topics, including through leadership and resources that help states integrate climate change into their learning standards, their teacher preparation programs, and their aligned curricula.
1.3.2 | Guarantee all youth and families clean water to drink and safe environments, free from lead and other toxins.
  • Increase grants for families and schools, especially in communities that have historically faced disinvestment and discrimination, so that no child is forced to drink contaminated water or inhabit homes that have lead paint. 
  • Allocate sufficient resources to ensure that lead pipes, service lines, and faucets are replaced nationwide within the next 10 years, beginning with those communities that have been most impacted by environmental injustice. 
1.3.3 | Guarantee all youth and families clean air to breathe.
  • Designate resources to modernize, renovate, or repair facilities used by public facilities like elementary schools, secondary schools, early childhood centers, and institutions of higher education, particularly addressing issues around air quality and environmental accessibility. 
  • Increase financial resources to clean — and shutter — major sources of air pollution, reducing exposure to these sources. Prioritize those communities that have been most burdened by contamination. 
  • Increase subsidies so that disproportionately burdened communities can transition to cleaner electricity and heating sources — and afford their energy bills as costs rise. 
  • Ensure regular, thorough assessments of air pollution impacts near where dangerous air pollutants — like highways, ports, industrial boilers, power plants, and other sources — are.
  • Increase resources to relocate public housing and other federally funded multifamily housing developments that were intentionally or otherwise placed in high-pollution neighborhoods.
1.4 Guarantee all children and families the financial freedom to thrive.
1.4.1 | Guarantee all children and families financial freedom by ending child poverty, strengthening our safety net, and piloting programs of guaranteed income — including a permanent expansion of the Child Tax Credit.
  • Enact a permanent, robust, universal expansion of the Child Tax Credit, which includes—
    • Full refundability;
    • The elimination of any “phase-in” structure, so that no family is excluded from the program;
    • Inclusion of ITIN filers;
    • The inclusion of monthly payments, rather than annual payments only; 
    • A benefit level not less than the expansion contained in the American Rescue Plan Act — and set to increase as inflation and cost-of-living rise; and
    • Robust resources to support community-based organizations that can help individuals learn about and access the program.
  • Increase the generosity and flexibility of much-needed nutrition programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, including through changes that—
    • Remove restrictions regarding what products can be purchased;
    • Integrate nutrition services and health services through WIC clinics, including by having Medicaid coordinate with WIC so that it reaches additional mothers and young children who are eligible;
    • Protect and maintain the Thrifty Food Plan that determines the average food benefit for a SNAP participant;
    • When determining SNAP qualifications for active-duty military, exclude the basic allowance for housing as income — helping more military personnel and their families become eligible for SNAP; 
    • Expand the list of kosher and halal food options that are available through the Emergency Food Assistance Program, creating additional options for kosher- and halal-observant households; 
    • Ensure that SNAP adequately covers students in college, including by ensuring that Pell grant recipients are added to the SNAP student exceptions, defining “job training” broadly, and funding campus positions that connect students with state resources; and
    • End work requirements.
  • Address shortcomings in other much-needed programs that provide a safety net to children and families, including via policy changes that—
    • Significantly overhaul the Temporary Needy Assistance for Needy Families program, such as through changes that end caps on family size and how long individuals and families can remain enrolled, remove work requirements, and clearly define the income threshold for program eligibility;
    • Address issues with the Social Security Insurance and Social Security Disability Insurance programs, including through changes that streamline the determination process and support states to make these programs more generous and easily accessible;
    • Open up critical safety-net programs like TANF, WIC, and SNAP to all people who call the U.S. home, both at the state and federal levels, and sufficiently increase funding to meet existing needs;
    • End the five-year waiting period required so that lawful immigrants can qualify for many benefits;
    • Remove administrative burdens from families who are accessing benefits by, among other things, thoroughly simplifying qualification requirements, streamlining the application process, and aligning key definitions and requirements across core benefit programs; 
    • Ensure that drivers licenses and identification cards are open to all people who call the United States home, regardless of their documentation status; and
    • Pursue broader changes by creating a State Innovation Program that offers flexibility for state waivers, allowing states to administer their federally funded benefits programs so that they are easy to access, streamlined, and otherwise structured to fully support people. Design this program to have federal funding that grows as necessary to meet recipient needs.
  • Strengthen unemployment insurance, or any other program that kicks in during economic downturns, including by—
    • Increasing the amount and duration of the weekly benefit; and
    • Expanding eligibility to include individuals who previously were not qualified for unemployment insurance, such as those who have not worked enough hours, have not had enough previous earnings to qualify, or who are self-employed — requirements that exclude many low-wage workers.
  • Pilot and ultimately scale up — using either existing or new programs — programs of guaranteed income that afford all people a certain threshold of economic dignity. 
  • Ensure that tax credits, cash benefits, and guaranteed income payments — including monthly payments — are excluded when determining eligibility for social safety-net programs. 
1.4.2 | Guarantee all families access to jobs that confer economic dignity.
  • Expand Earned Income Tax Credit eligibility to youth ages 18 – 24.
  • Raise the federal minimum wage for all people, following the demands of the Fight for Fifteen campaign.
  • Incentivize states to have policies that allow all individuals to make a living wage, using both higher state minimum wages and wage supplements like the Earned Income Tax Credit. 
  • End the sub-minimum wage for youth, tipped workers, and workers who have disabilities.
  • Increase worker power by passing strong 21st Century labor protections, such as—
    • Guaranteeing all workers strong rights to organize, including by ending right-to-work laws, providing ample funding to the National Labor Relations Board and the Department of Labor to investigate and censure labor violations, and allowing minority unionism;
    • Allowing sectoral bargaining;
    • Requiring corporations to have employee representation on boards; and
    • Adopting a national system of “just cause” employment.
  • Engage youth directly in designing and enacting laws that will build a just economy for their future, including measures to address corporate power and economic inequality.
1.4.3 | Guarantee all families access to fast, affordable internet service — and the tools to navigate the digital world effectively.
  • Increase funding for the infrastructure and continued maintenance of Internet Service Providers, particularly in rural areas, to ensure that every family has an affordable, high-quality internet connection.
  • Expand funding, such as through the Affordable Connectivity Program, to increase the stipend that families receive to purchase internet-capable devices.
  • Enhance education initiatives to help increase digital literacy and help families leverage new technologies most effectively, including through two-generational programming at community schools, Family Resource or Support Hubs, daycare programs, and more. 
1.5 Guarantee all children and families access to housing.
1.5.1 | Guarantee every family the ability to afford decent, safe, sanitary, and accessible housing by bridging the gap that exists between wages and housing costs, as well as providing resources to help people during crises.
  • Ensure that all qualifying households can receive rental assistance, whether through vouchers, a refundable tax credit, or cash assistance. Through these programs, ensure that families never pay more than 30% of their income on housing.
  • Ensure that all households have real options about where they live, such as by ensuring that families can move into whatever communities they choose.
  • Remove burdens imposed by housing costs outside of rent payments, including junk fees, late fees, application fees, and even security deposits. 
  • Ensure that all families can access funding for crisis assistance, which is able to cover rental costs as necessary, and help households easily access these emergency funds by ensuring that applicants can self-certify need. 
1.5.2 | Dramatically increase our supply of affordable and deeply affordable housing, especially for those households that have the greatest needs.
  • Spur states and localities to reduce the money, time, and other costs of construction, including by reforming regulatory and review processes, increasing use of modular construction, allowing the braiding of federal funding, and expanding the labor force of construction workers.
  • Create millions of “social housing” units that are permanently affordable, managed using democratic processes, and owned by public or nonprofit entities, while maintaining a strong focus on public housing and rental homes that are affordable to those possessing the greatest needs. 
  • When creating new homes, prioritize properties that are owned and operated by local governments, nonprofit providers, and Public Housing Authorities, as well as “community ownership” models like limited Community Land Trusts, cooperatives, mutual housing associations, and neighborhood Real Estate Investment Trusts. Also prioritize the creation of homes that are accessible to public transportation and that afford easy access to high-quality employment opportunities.
  • Commit substantial resources to renovating and preserving existing housing so that we avoid losing units of affordable housing, while ensuring that all homes are structurally safe, energy efficient, and accessible for people with disabilities. Structure policy changes so that renters directly receive the cost-savings from energy improvements.
  • Provide funding to properly maintain and operate these properties so that they are safe and livable forever.
  • Encourage all affordable housing developments to have spaces that can be used as youth centers.
1.5.3 | Ensure that every family can stay in their housing, specifically through policies that constrain housing costs and create strong protections against displacement, evictions, and homelessness.
  • Heighten renter protections, such as by—
    • Expanding federal tenant protections so that they align with best practices, including just-cause eviction protections, and embrace other principles of a “Renters Bill of Rights”;
    • Ensuring access to housing, regardless of immigration status; and
    • Expanding and enforcing fair housing laws that ban discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, and source of income, as well as tenant screening policies that discriminate against survivors, individuals who are formerly incarcerated, and other vulnerable groups.
  • Create anti-displacement programs to help long-term residents stay put, such as through grants that help to prevent evictions, rehouse homeless and displaced people, and provide tenants with free legal counsel and additional supports that assist renters before eviction occurs.
  • End homelessness for all, including families and children, through the policies that are discussed in this section — including efforts to prioritize homelessness prevention, increase access to affordable homes, and reduce barriers to accessing housing assistance — and targeted efforts to rehouse homeless individuals as quickly as possible via the “Housing First” model and other evidence-informed approaches.
  • Ensure that voluntary, supportive services — including healthcare, substance use disorder counseling, mental health counseling, and other services — are available for all who need and want them. See demand #1 for more details regarding family supports and goal #14 for more details regarding the care workforce.
  • Institute other containment measures for rent costs, addressing problematic practices by landlords.
1.6 Guarantee all families a chance to stay together — within the country and at the border.
1.6.1 Guarantee immigrant families the chance to stay together, especially families with young children who are detained at the border.
  • End family separation at the U.S. border by changing border processes so that children and caregivers are not separated — and quickly processing and releasing families from Customs and Border Protection custody together.
  • Suspend prosecution referrals for unauthorized entry and re-entry.
  • Instruct prosecutors to stop prosecuting these violations — especially for parents and caregivers.
  • Embrace immigration reforms that keep families together, provide “pathways to citizenship” for families living here, and help immigrants integrate into the economy. Until we achieve these comprehensive reforms, also be sure to—
    • Immediately ensure that all Temporary Protected Status recipients, their families, and undocumented GED recipients and high school graduates have a “pathway to citizenship” via apprenticeships, post-secondary education, work, or military service; 
    • Expand work authorization and health insurance for individuals who are seeking asylum, while creating opportunities so that more noncitizens can qualify for work authorization and lawful status; and
    • Take care that all social programs — like those in this agenda — are open to all people who call the United States home.
  • Ensure that all families are  provided with the robust supports that they need to thrive — steady access to nutrition assistance, housing, therapeutic and rehabilitative services, cash assistance, and community navigators who can support families to access resources. See demands #1, #2, #4, and #5 for more details regarding health, family, housing, and economic supports.
  • Expand alternatives to terminating parental rights, including via guardianship and custodial arrangements, power of attorney, and other procedures. Require states to provide a legal avenue so that parents and children can petition to reinstate parental rights. 
  • Replace the Adoption and Safe Families Act and similar laws with holistic frameworks prioritizing family reunification and community-based supports, while ensuring that adoption policies maximize preservation of the parent-child bond — and take into account the special circumstances and barriers facing parents who are or were recently incarcerated. 
  • End policies resulting in family removals that are based on economic disadvantage.
  • Eliminate positive drug toxicologies as a basis for family separation, or as a barrier to reunification.
  • Raise the evidentiary standards for family separation.
  • Guarantee parents and caregivers access to legal representation, beginning during investigations, in court cases addressing abuse, neglect, and dependency. 
  • Guarantee each child who has a child welfare case access to their own legal counsel who must represent the wishes of the child.
  • In juvenile- and criminal-legal sentencing decisions, require judges to consider noncustodial and community-based sentences first, then justify any decision not to use such sentences.
  • Require family impact statements for all criminal-legal bills.
1.6.3 | Ensure that for youth who need alternative homes, they have safe, supportive options that maximize their health, wellbeing, and future success.
  • Invest in voluntary, community-based supports for youth — both immigrants and non-immigrants — so that all youth who have experienced abuse, neglect, and abandonment are entitled to therapeutic, culturally responsive, trauma-informed services.
  • Ensure that all children who have unique needs can access a continuum of culturally responsive, trauma-informed services, including therapeutic placements and respite services for children who need higher levels of support and care.
  • Bolster protections and services for unaccompanied immigrant children who are seeking safety / asylum in the United States, as well as for youth who have pursued emancipation.

Plank Two: A Roadmap to Youth Thriving

A Roadmap to Youth Thriving looks to reshape the American education system and the supports that we provide to youth. It places youth empowerment and well-being at its core, prioritizing equitable access to high-quality education, robust mental and physical health services, enhanced community safety, and an end to punitive disciplinary measures.
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A Roadmap to Youth Thriving fosters an environment where every youth can thrive — and where every youth can choose the future that they want to have.

Explore A Roadmap to Youth Thriving
2.7 Guarantee all families strong supports for their health and wellbeing — from the very earliest moments.
2.7.1 | Guarantee all youth access to high-quality, well-funded, and equitably-funded public schools that enhance equity for all learners, starting with policy changes that increase funding for public schools and vulnerable students.
  • Dramatically increase funding for Title I, such as by quadrupling its funding, while seeking changes that would—
      • Make Title I a mandatory “entitlement” program that is not subject to appropriations each year;
      • Allow and set aside funds to promote school integration;
  • Encourage states to enact policies that develop new models for pooling revenues — either at the county or state level — and redistribute these dollars in an equitable manner that gives every district what it needs to thrive; and
  • Require states to adopt a “weighted student funding” formula that provides state funding based on student needs. Ensure that these formula include weights for students who are impacted by poverty, students with disabilities, and English learners, and that they allow for “duplicate weights” when a student qualifies in multiple categories. 
  • Create a new program of categorical aid that would provide funding to the highest-poverty school districts in all states, but include more districts in states that fund schools more equitably and robustly relative to their state wealth. By the time that the first five-year period ends, require districts to show that their high-poverty schools receive at least as much state and local funding per pupil as their low-poverty schools.
  • Fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
  • Increase funding for Title III to support schools serving English learners, as well as immigrant students and families who have recently arrived here. Also incentivize states to fund high-quality dual language programs that serve English learners — and ensure that these programs are intentionally targeted at English learners, not just English-speaking students learning a second language.
  • Discourage school privatization efforts that shift public funds away from, and overall deplete resources for, public schools.
  • Ensure that geography is never a barrier to families accessing high-performing schools, including by—
    • Removing geographic barriers to school enrollment, promoting inter- and intra-district open enrollment policies that expand available options to families — and that include accessible transportation;
    • Decriminalizing address sharing among families who enroll their children in schools that are outside of their zoned attendance boundary, so that families no longer face criminal penalties for seeking equal educational access; 
    • Requiring states to review district boundaries and redraw or otherwise remedy cases where the intent, or the effect, of boundaries is further segregating schools — or otherwise creating separate and unequal educational systems for children; and
    • Integrating the end of exclusionary zoning — and the expansion of inclusionary zoning and other affirmative policies — into competitive criteria for education and related grants. 
2.7.2 | Guarantee all students access to high-quality, well-prepared, diverse teachers, while guaranteeing teachers the supports and respect that they deserve.
  • Ensure that all educators have the supports that they need to thrive, including by—
    • Ensuring that educators have access to mental health services — including opportunities to access these services during school hours; and
    • Ensuring that educators have robust budgets for classroom materials, so that no educator needs to fund these materials as out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Ensure teacher quality everywhere by increasing the quality and rigor of educator preparation programs (EPP) and licensure, as well as by—
    • Establishing clear requirements for EPP accreditation and renewal;
    • Annually evaluating EPP quality based on established performance indicators, including program completion, licensure exam pass rates, and job placement rates;
    • Publishing annual report cards for EPPs so that teaching candidates can select a program that will prepare them for success; 
    • Decertifying EPPs that fail to meet program performance metrics;
    • Requiring that all candidates successfully complete a minimum amount of clinical experience; and 
    • Requiring that all teachers demonstrate teaching effectiveness before obtaining full licensure.
  • Ensure that states have an equitable distribution of highly qualified, effective educators, including by—
    • Having states report, at the school and district levels, the number and percentage of teachers who are experienced and inexperienced, teaching out-of-field, highly effective, and conversant in the language that their community primarily speaks;
    • Establishing goals and metrics for eliminating equity gaps, as far as access to highly qualified, effective, diverse teachers; and
    • Including a summary rating that allows leaders to identify equity gaps. For example, disaggregating reporting by student populations and allowing comparisons among states and districts that have similar characteristics, as well as between schools / districts and the state average.
  • Ensure all students access to racially diverse educators and school leaders, especially making sure that Black, brown, Indigenous, and other students of color can access teachers who share their racial backgrounds. See demand #14 for more details regarding diversification of the educator workforce.
2.7.3 | Guarantee all students equitable access to rigorous, accessible, culturally responsive, accurate curricula and instructional materials, while protecting teacher autonomy to deliver these materials.
  • Ensure that all students have literature available depicting an accurate and culturally responsive representation of history, including topics such as the struggles of historically marginalized communities — such as by requiring that students have access to a high-quality library, which possesses a diverse array of literature. 
  • Increase the quality of the instructional materials that states and districts use, including by—
    • Categorizing instructional materials according to quality tiers, then signaling to district leaders and educators how they can choose high-quality instructional materials and curriculum; 
    • Incentivizing the adoption of top-rated curriculum and high-quality instructional materials using incentive grants, training, and vendor identification;
    • Anchoring state-led professional learning in high-quality instructional materials and require educator preparation programs (EPP) to prepare new teachers so that they can identify and use high-quality instructional materials;  
    • Phasing in a requirement that all districts adopt a top-rated curriculum and utilize high-quality instructional materials as a criteria for competitive state grants; and
    • Ensuring that cultural relevance is a criteria used in rating curricula and instructional materials. 
  • Require cultural responsiveness as part of State Accreditation Standards for educational preparation programs, the standards that are used to measure teacher proficiency, and the standards that committees use when reviewing and selecting textbooks.
  • Require that all educators receive high-quality professional development around culturally responsive education.
2.7.4 | Guarantee all students equitable access to rigorous courses, as well as the appropriate supports and assessments to achieve — and demonstrate — mastery.
  • Require that districts track diversity in high-level courses, while working to ensure that enrollment in advanced coursework mirrors the racial, socioeconomic, and linguistic diversity of the district as a whole.
  • Require districts to offer students opportunities so that they can earn college credit while still in high school, such as via AP, dual enrollment, IB, and early college programs, while taking steps to ensure that these programs are offered equitably across class, race, and other lines.
  • Ensure open enrollment, universal enrollment, or universal screening — including automatic enrollment for qualified students — in advanced coursework like Algebra I and II, college preparation, and AP courses for all students who earn high scores on end-of-grade or placement assessments.
  • Add safeguards so that all youth benefit from policies that expand high-level course entry, such as by—
    • Allowing opt-out if a family chooses to do so, but ensuring that counselors and other school staff are trained to help families understand how opting out may affect a student’s academic career and college accessibility; and
    • Providing tutoring services to all students who do not qualify for advanced courses if a universal screening process is used.
  • Provide all students 30 minutes / day of high-quality, high-dosage tutoring during the school day.
  • Use bias control to ensure that all state assessments are racially and culturally inclusive.  
  • Encourage schools to incorporate portfolios, assessments during apprenticeships and guided projects, written products that incorporate revision and editing, or other alternative methods to demonstrate student growth and content mastery.
  • Ensure that state-level school accountability systems measure schools on multiple outcomes, including student performance and growth, progress toward closing achievement gaps, school climate, student and family engagement, and postsecondary readiness.
2.7.5 | Empower youth to make critical decisions affecting their education and their lives — both today and in the future.
  • Ensure that all youth have access to high-quality civics instruction that builds critical thinking, democratic deliberation, and engaging in meaningful, respectful conversations across difference, including by—
    • Creating a grant program that funds colleges and universities to develop and pilot model civics courses, modules, sample curricula, and lesson plans, which would then be disseminated widely free of charge;
    • Establishing a Blue Ribbon Commission that includes youth, classroom educators, and content experts to develop recommendations surrounding appropriate standards, curricula, and other essential features of civics instruction; and
    • Creating a grant program that funds non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and joint collaborations bringing together diverse groups so that they can engage in meaningful dialogues.
  • Require that each school board have student representation. 
  • Guarantee all youth a chance to meaningfully shape the democratic institutions governing their lives, including through changes that strengthen voter protections and lower the voting age to 16. See demand #11 for more details regarding youth voting.
2.8 Guarantee all youth access to learning environments that holistically meet their needs, as well as enriching programming for engagement and recreation.
2.8.1 | Guarantee all students access to an educational community that has a positive, healthy climate — and that fully meets their academic, social, and emotional needs.
  • Unlock funding so that every high-poverty school can become a “community school” that offers wraparound services to students and their families, or can be located near a service center that can provide these supports.
  • Surge funding to support community connections, which fund community-based organizations to undertake activities like mentorship and reengaging students who are chronically absent. Also increase funding for stipends and other financial stipends that can catalyze individual volunteering among both families and community members. 
  • Surge funding for counselors, family coordinators, psychologists, nurses, social workers, and other school professionals who can help meet the physical, mental health, social, and emotional needs of students. 
  • Hold schools accountable for building and maintaining a positive, healthy climate for all learners, including by—
    • Adding school climate measures to state- and district-level school accountability systems, while ensuring that parents can access this information when choosing a school for their child;
    • Ensuring all public schools administer school climate or satisfaction surveys to staff, students, and families, as well as ensuring that survey results are publicly available and posted on district websites;
    • Creating clear training, data collection, investigation, and remedy guidelines for school districts to address identity-based bullying and harassment; and
    • Creating culturally responsive and age appropriate social-emotional learning standards at the state level, as well as professional development, pre-service training, and opportunities for teacher preparation that equip educators and school professionals with the resources that they need to implement these standards.
2.8.2 | Guarantee that LGBTQ+, immigrant students, and all other families feel safe and included in their school community.
  • Provide schools with additional resources to ensure that all families can access their school community, including through translation services, family navigators at every school, and accessible materials provided in the language that the family speaks.
  • Create new funds and guidelines to support strong school-family partnerships, which center family leadership in schools — including programs that pay parents to help support classroom learning. 
  • Provide schools with additional resources so that they can fully support foster youth, children who have incarcerated parents, new immigrants, and any other youth who have particular needs, including via newcomer coordinators, immigration attorneys in schools, and resources to help new immigrants access available benefits.
  • Provide positive school supports that contribute to a safe, just, and welcoming climate for all students, including LGBTQ+ students, such as by—
    • Providing resources for counselors, training for staff, culturally responsive multi-tiered systems of supports, anti-bias training, and voluntary mental health-related supports for all students; 
    • Ensuring that teachers and administrators respect the preferred gender identity of students; 
    • Providing equal access so that LGBTQ+ students can participate in classes and school activities without facing discrimination; and
    • Otherwise creating an atmosphere where students are able to freely express themselves without repercussions; and
    • Ensure that all enrichment programming is inclusive and directly meets the needs of all youth, including children of incarcerated parents, foster youth, LGBTQ+, immigrant, and homeless youth. 
2.8.3 | Guarantee every youth access to robust and enriching programming that fully meets their academic and social needs, as well as safe, accessible spaces to enjoy this programming.
  • Create a grant that empowers youth to design plans addressing the biggest local barriers to youth opportunity using investments like out-of-school programs, youth centers, cultural centers and programming, recreational spaces, and similar investments, then funds local governments and community-based organizations to implement these plans.
  • Surge funding for summer enrichment and afterschool programs that are provided by community-based and non-profit providers, such as programs centered on art, music, theater, dance, and athletics, and make these programs available on a sliding scale. Ensure that transportation access is factored into afterschool and enrichment programming, so that transportation availability or safety is never a barrier to participation. 
  • Create participatory grants for building and revamping parks, athletics facilities, and youth, community, and cultural centers that offer youth safe, accessible spaces to meet and play. Ensure that youth voices are centered in the participatory process.
  • Invest deeply in bike lanes, walking paths, buses, and other public transportation options that allow youth without cars to navigate their communities safely and independently. Engage youth directly in making these planning decisions. 
2.8.4 | Guarantee every student access to learning formats and spaces that fully meet their needs, while creating onramps to potential careers.
  • Dramatically increase funding for, and expand access to, apprenticeships other career and technical education (CTE) programs in high schools and in communities. See demand #12 for more details regarding guidance / accountability for apprenticeship programs.
  • Provide robust funding for experiential and service learning, outdoor education, and school-community partnerships that engage young people using real-world examples of environmental and scientific concepts.
  • Foster partnerships between school districts and parks, natural resource management agencies, educator preparation programs, and museums or other organizations that have expertise in engaging young people using real-world examples of environmental and scientific concepts.
  • Robustly fund outdoor school- and community-based education programs that offer intensive, hands-on learning experiences, as well as opportunities for service learning.
  • Create participatory grants allowing schools to create outdoor learning spaces that include shade, open-sided structures, electricity, generators, furniture, storage, Wi-Fi nodes and charging stations, outdoor food and distribution facilities, gardens, and weather-related clothing.
2.9 Guarantee all youth access to high-quality physical and mental health services.
2.9.1 | Guarantee all youth access to high-quality healthcare by creating a policy that would provide comprehensive, high-quality health insurance, including full parity between physical and behavioral healthcare, to all people.
  • See demand #1 for more details regarding healthcare. Ensure that all young people have access to this insurance, regardless of immigration status.
2.9.2 | Guarantee all youth access to high-quality, affordable, culturally responsive upfront care — for both physical and mental health — in school-based health centers or other centers that are equally accessible.
  • Make sure that every youth has access to a school-based health center providing high-quality, culturally responsive mental healthcare, or easy access to a community-based health center nearby, and ensure that all school- and community-based health services are reimbursed by the health program covering kids. When pursuing this program, be sure to—
    • Begin by prioritizing centers that serve Title I schools and low-income neighborhoods; 
    • Develop quality resources — for both state and local agencies — for establishing school-based health centers, including information on governance, comprehensive care interventions, data collection and use, and community partnerships;
    • Provide funding and other incentives to states so that they fund cultural competency trainings for all school-based mental health workers, as well as all student-facing faculty and staff; and
    • Until we have a health program that covers all youth and families,  incentivize and support all states to allow Medicaid reimbursement of school-based mental health services, including by—
      • Adopting policy changes to ameliorate administrative costs to schools;
      • Completing Medicaid expansion;
      • Restoring COVID-era continuous coverage protections; and 
      • Requiring private insurers to reimburse mental health care provided in schools — including mechanisms that minimize the administrative burden on schools).
  • Invest deeply in a workforce that can meet our care needs, including needs around physical and mental health. See demand #14 for more details regarding the care workforce.
  • Amply fund research on how digital technologies can help address the continuum of mental healthcare — promotion, prevention, identification, treatment — while fully preserving patient privacy.
  • Facilitate access to birth control and reproductive care using school-based health centers, as well as other means to reach youth who may struggle to access these services. See demand #1 for more details regarding reproductive care.
  • Invest robustly in developing and training a behavioral health workforce — including a robust supply of Community Health Workers — that can fill critical roles to support youth physical and mental health. See demand #14 for more details regarding the care workforce.
  • Integrate primary care and mental healthcare into healthcare delivery, ensuring full coordination between these systems. 
  • Increase funding for programs that respond to crises using unarmed professionals who are trained in mental and behavioral health — not police officers. 
2.10 Guarantee all youth safety at school, at home, and in their communities.
2.10.1 | Replace school disciplinary practices that punish and harm youth with evidence-informed school- and community-based practices that address their needs.
  • End school disciplinary practices that harm youth, including by—
    • Ending corporal punishment;
    • Ending dangerous seclusion and restraint practices in schools;
    • Ending punishments for dress and grooming “violations”;
    • Ensuring that schools cannot deny students access to recess or physical education classes as a form of punishment;
    • Ending “zero tolerance” and similarly punitive policies, including by removing school resource officers (“SROs”) and other police / armed personnel from schools, by reducing exclusionary discipline, and by eliminating informal discipline that removes students from school — but go unreported; 
    • Prohibiting arrests, summonses, tickets, and any criminal charges for school-based disciplinary behavior; 
    • Not allowing suspensions or expulsions without proper evaluation for an Individual Education Plan; and 
    • Prohibiting the entry of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in schools, or the passing to ICE of any student information.
  • Adopt evidence-informed school- and community-based practices to prevent and address student behavior, including by—
    • Promoting wellbeing and embracing positive behavior interventions and responses, as well as using and trauma-informed practices;
    • Crafting and deploying developmentally appropriate responses to, and prevention of, misbehavior;
    • Adopting restorative justice as the guiding principle for school discipline; 
    • Creating school-justice partnerships that preclude arrests for low-level offenses; and
    • Employing emergency mental and behavioral health response teams and community-based networks of support, which address behavioral incidents that occur at school.
  • Establish a Division of Community Safety within the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees and advances multidisciplinary, preventative approaches to safety and violence prevention that are grounded in public health.
  • Create a new Youth Safety Office within the Department of Health and Human Services, which administers grants that holistically support youth and help communities to expand non-carceral, preventative approaches to youth safety — including the creation of multidisciplinary, multi-agency plans to prevent youth violence and advance community safety.
  • Ensure that every municipality has a Community Safety Agency, Department of Community Safety, or equivalent office that can oversee preventative, multidisciplinary investments in community safety and violence prevention — outside of the criminal-legal system. 
  • Fund “community violence intervention” programs to reduce gun violence and other harms at scale in cities and municipalities nationwide, as well as professional development and other mechanisms to support and retain this critical workforce.
  • Fund neighborhood-level grant programs to foster community-led, participatory “built design” investments like redeveloping parks, adding streetlights, greening public spaces, and other evidence-informed measures to prevent gun violence and other harms, taking care to center youth voices during these grant processes.
  • Fund youth summer jobs and workforce development programs that are uniquely targeted toward violence reduction.
  • Fund financial stipends for transition-age youth, harm survivors, formerly incarcerated individuals, and other individuals who require targeted assistance — and connect these stipends with transitional housing where necessary. 
2.10.3 | Guarantee all youth the chance to be kids, not treated like criminals, by ending policies that criminalize young people in their communities, jeopardize their safety, and undermine their reintegration into society.
  • Decriminalize running away, curfew violations, truancy, technical violations of probation, and other offenses that disproportionately criminalize youth, and eliminate negative descriptions of youth experiencing homelessness that are found in some statutes — like “unruly,” “incorrigible,” and “vagrant.” Also limit the circumstances under which youth who have run away can be taken into custody, or punished for running away.
  • Remove youth from adult detention facilities and, to strengthen states’ incentives to do so, create a “private right of action” under the Prison Rape Elimination Act.
  • Make it easier for kids, youth, and young adults to seal and expunge their juvenile records, such as through programs that automatically seal or expunge criminal records. 
  • Prohibit the assessment of fines, fees, and financial obligations on children, as they are least likely to repay these penalties — but could be criminalized for nonpayment.
  • Expand parole eligibility for kids who are sentenced to lengthy prison terms when they were teenagers, but are now adults.
  • Stop prosecuting youth under 18 as adults, ensure that juvenile courts raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction (to 21 or higher), and expand programs that work with young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 — a population that is distinct in development, skills, and needs.
  • Create a clear, time-bound plan for closing youth prisons and replacing them with community-based, rehabilitation-focused continua of care.

Plank Two: A Roadmap to Youth Thriving

Plank Three:
A Gateway to a Fulfilling Future empowers youth who have long been denied opportunities for career advancement, economic freedom, and higher education. Our goal is to build a pipeline that elevates all young people into economic opportunities that offer dignity and respect to everyone, irrespective of their chosen path — and that keeps this door open throughout a person’s life.
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A Gateway to a Fulfilling Future empowers youth and builds a pipeline that elevates all young people.

Explore A Gateway to a Fulfilling Future
3.11 Guarantee all young adults access to paid work and service opportunities that pave pathways to fulfilling futures — as defined by their interests and needs — and voice in the democratic institutions governing their lives.
3.11.1 | Guarantee all youth the opportunity to complete national service — while earning a living wage and securing a pathway to a fulfilling career.
  • Increase funding for national service so as to create not fewer than 250,000 new placements, then continue allocating funding to meet growing demand.
  • Increase the pay and benefits of national service, ensuring that every participant can earn a living wage, through investments that increase the living allowance, the education award, and the career supports available to program participants. 
  • Increase the variety and size of specialized corps that participants have available, including—
    • A greatly expanded Climate Corps;
    • A “Youth Achievement Corps” that employs and places formerly incarcerated individuals to support youth who are involved in the juvenile- or criminal-legal system; 
    • A “Peer Success Corps” that employs and places youth aged 18 – 25 in mentorship, afterschool and enrichment programming, coaching, classroom support, tutoring, and other service roles focused on youth; and 
    • An Indian Youth Corps that increases funding for Native workforce programs.
  • Ensure that all participants receive wraparound supports to facilitate their post-service career transitions — both during and following program completion — via training, professional development, career coaching, and matriculation to apprenticeship programs.
  • Allow innovation in program models, including models that emphasize skills acquisition, allow “host family” housing structures, and place corps members at smaller community-based organizations.
  • Increase the accessibility of national service, including via expanded recruitment and a searchable database outlining opportunities.
3.11.2 | Guarantee subsidized employment and workforce training for all youth who would benefit from this opportunity.
  • Create a National Subsidized Employment Program that expands when unemployment rises, while ensuring that this program—
    • Provides formula grants to states, as well as competitive grants to local governments and community-based organizations;
    • Ensures robust collection of data, allowing policymakers to understand what employment models work most effectively; 
    • Provides subsidized workers with comprehensive, community-based services and supports, which help them find success in employment; and
    • Ensures a focus on participants who have been systematically excluded from economic opportunity, including those who experience structural barriers, face chronic unemployment, or live in areas that have persistently high unemployment and poverty. During recessions, the focus may include displaced workers who are unemployed due to layoffs, hiring freezes, or lower demand for labor.
  • Allocate funding for strategic partnerships that bring together industry employers, nonprofits, higher education, and workforce development boards to provide education and skills training, primarily to unemployed / underemployed workers — much like the EARN program in Maryland.
  • Dramatically increase funding for, and expand access to, apprenticeships other career and technical education (CTE) programs in high schools and in communities. See demand #12 for more details regarding guidance / accountability for apprenticeship programs.
  • Expand funding for workforce training that will particularly benefit opportunity youth, including Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act youth programs, while working toward a new framework that—
    • Explicitly advances racial and other forms of equity;
    • Adequately serves older youth;
    • Robustly supports trauma-informed practices;
    • Encourages serving the hardest-to-serve young people; 
    • Holistically supports participants, including via community-based services;
    • Prioritizes accountability metrics tied to 21st century skills; and 
    • Targets roles closely aligned to high-demand, high-skill, high-wage occupations. 
  • Allocate funding for other high-impact programs that particularly create opportunities for opportunity youth, youth who have been involved in the juvenile- or criminal-legal systems, or youth who face other barriers to work — including programs like Year Up, a tuition-free training program that places youth at leading companies. 
3.11.3 | Guarantee all youth a chance to meaningfully shape the democratic institutions governing their lives.
  • Lower the voting age to 16. 
  • Ensure that all schools offer pre-registration to students during high school, ensuring a seamless path into voting. 
  • Eliminate voting barriers around student ID cards and ID restrictions that disproportionately affect students. 
  • Establish universal and automatic voting registration. 
  • Eliminate restrictions on early voting and vote-by-mail, which disproportionately serve to suppress youth voting — as well as the votes of Black and brown communities. 
3.12 Guarantee all young adults the chance to attend a quality, accessible, and affordable community college, four-year college, university, or career and technical program, as well as access to lifelong learning.
3.12.1 | Guarantee all people the opportunity to pursue lifelong learning, regardless of their means, by changing how the state financially supports post-secondary learning and addresses student loans.
  • Create a program of free “Lifetime Learning Credits” that fund post-secondary training of whatever variety a person wishes. In designing this program, be sure that— 
    • The very first allocation of Lifetime Learning Credits covers at least two free years of education;
    • These credits are available to all people once they turn seventeen, regardless of immigration status;
    • Credits may subsidize education of whatever variety a person wishes, whether career and technical education, two-year college, or four-year university; 
    • Each Lifetime Learning Credit covers the whole cost of the education provided, creating a strong incentive to contain costs, and that participating post-secondary institutions provide data — disaggregated by race, ethnicity, and gender — to inform program expansion and design; and
    • Following the initial allocation of Lifetime Learning Credits, future credits are tied to economic conditions locally and to life circumstances that create a need for further skill-building.
  • Increase and reform the Pell grant to enhance its size and equity, namely by doubling the grant, expanding Second Chance Pell grants, ensuring that Pell grants can be used for living expenses tax-free, and opening Pell to new groups like undocumented students.
  • Have community colleges, public colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, trade and technical schools, and eligible minority-serving institutions cover the full cost of school attendance for students who have encountered significant barriers to their educations, including students experiencing poverty, foster youth, children of incarcerated parents, and youth who have experienced homelessness. Encourage states to consider other groups that should qualify.
  • Change how the government approaches student loans, both today and in the future, by—
    • Forgiving student loan debt today using a sliding scale, giving all people — including young adults — the chance to build a future; and
    • Capping all future repayments on a sliding scale so that debt burdens are never more than what a student can afford — and what the federal government pays. 
3.12.2 | Guarantee all learners access to high-quality, cost-effective community colleges and other post-secondary options by changing how states evaluate and fund higher education — and how information is made available to prospective students.
  • Invest deeply in community colleges, while prioritizing high-priority policy changes like—
    • Requiring “articulation agreements” that help students transfer their credits between community college and four-year institutions; 
    • Ensuring that general education requirements, including requirements for technical degrees, include coursework on civics; and
    • Dedicating resources to help community colleges support “care workforce” jobs like child care, preschool, prekindergarten, community safety, mental health, elder care, and similar positions. See demand #14 for more details regarding the care workforce.
  • Develop new metrics to measure post-secondary student success that—
    • Are measured consistently — and posted publicly — so that all students and families can evaluate the value of their potential program; 
    • Require disaggregation by demographic characteristics, including race and income, ensuring that students can make informed decisions;
    • Include a mechanism for identifying “social and economic mobility engine” colleges and universities, which are particularly successful at enhancing program completion, cost-effectiveness, and career outcomes — especially for students who face particular barriers to matriculation; and
    • Include criteria relating to academic engagement, course completion, employment outcomes, and a range of other metrics like civic engagement, social capital, self-regulation, mental health, self-agency, and intellectual growth.
  • Using information gathered from these metrics, distill promising practices that can be disseminated to all colleges and universities nationwide, as well as to prospective students.
  • Improve the quality and consistency of post-secondary education programs, including career and technical education (CTE) programs, by only allowing learners to use Lifetime Learning Credits at institutions meeting certain quality benchmarks, as measured by these metrics.
  • Improve data, reporting, and guidance on high-quality CTE programs, such as by—
    • Establishing state definitions for high-quality, workforce-aligned CTE programs;
    • Ensuring that states collect school- and student-level data, so that they can evaluate the outcomes of CTE programs — including job placements, wages, and more — against established metrics surrounding quality and equity;
    • Establishing clear guidance for registered apprenticeships and apprenticeship programs, which detail post-secondary credit or credentialing opportunities, prerequisites, and participant outcomes;
    • Regularly evaluating apprenticeship programs based on established quality indicators, as well as barriers to equity; and
    • Allocating funds for research regarding how career and technical education impacts student success — and how different models increase this efficacy.
  • Adequately fund and foster connections between the major stakeholders occupying the workforce development ecosystem — high schools, community colleges, employers, workforce development agencies, and intermediaries.
  • Streamline the process that college and university students with disabilities must use when seeking accommodations, including by—
    • Requiring that colleges and universities accept multiple forms of documentation, including IEPs, 504 Plans, or prior evaluations; and 
    • Funding the National Center for College Students with Disabilities so that it can provide training and resources on services, supports, and accommodations for students who have disabilities.
  • Open scholarships and funding opportunities — including in-state tuition — to immigrant students who completed high school or their GED in the United States. 
  • Provide increased funding for on-campus child care, both at two- and four-year institutions.
  • Guarantee on-campus housing supports for unhoused students and those who are aging out of foster care.
  • Ensure and support the implementation and expansion of high-quality prison education, including by—
    • Prioritizing programs that are led by individuals who have been directly impacted by the criminal-legal system; 
    • Establishing reentry partnerships between these programs and reentry organizations; 
    • Preventing discrimination against formerly incarcerated students; and
    • Ensuring that students gain the financial education and technological skills necessary to succeed today.
  • Financially incentivize community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities to adopt policies that will enhance social mobility, such as—
    • Providing robust supports to first-generation college students, including mentorship and study groups;
    • Offering technical education and workforce programs that align to industry needs, have high rates of enrollment, and have accessible onramps for continuous learning;
    • Offering service learning, learning communities, and strategic reforms of development education; 
    • Ensuring that no student must pay for remedial coursework when they attend a post-secondary institution; 
    • Providing holistic supports and “guided pathways programming” that mirror successful models like the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs program in the City University of New York system; 
    • Reconsidering admission practices that unnecessarily advantage high-income students, such as legacy admissions; and
    • Increasing educational offerings for the broader public, including through online or hybrid education. 
3.12.4 | Guarantee all learners access to post-secondary options that offer diverse faculty and student bodies.
  • Increase funding for fellow programs that financially support prospective Black, Latino/a, and Indigenous faculty.
  • Support colleges and universities in maintaining diverse student populations, including through—
    • Targeted recruitment and outreach programs; 
    • Investments in summer programs and other “feeder” programs that increase prospects for college and university matriculation; and
    • Support in implementing admissions practices that fully and holistically account for student background and experiences, including particular attention to income, wealth, and zip code.
  • Substantially increase federal and state investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), tribal colleges and universities, and other minority-serving institutions. 
3.13 Guarantee all young adults — including opportunity youth — continuously accessible and inclusive pathways to economic dignity, regardless of their income, disability, guardianship status, or any other identity.
3.13.1 | Guarantee economic dignity for all foster youth, youth experiencing homelessness, and youth who have disabilities, especially as they transition to independent living.
  • Increase funding for community-based organizations that provide targeted supports to foster youth, youth who have disabilities, youth experiencing homelessness, and youth who have juvenile- or criminal-legal involvement, helping these populations to secure safe and accessible housing, employment, and other elements of economic dignity. 
  • Expand funding for transitional housing, including group housing and supportive housing. 
  • Expand funding to ensure that youth and families have the home and community-based supports necessary to manage complex medical, behavioral, and other needs in their homes, as well as access to high-quality respite care.
  • Expand funding for care professionals who can support individuals with disabilities as they navigate work and daily life. See demand #14 for more details regarding the care workforce.
3.13.2 | Guarantee opportunity youth clear and consistent pathways to employment and service opportunities.
  • Ensure that opportunity youth are prioritized for all national service, subsidized employment, apprenticeship, and other programs described in this agenda. See demand #11 for more information regarding subsidized employment, apprenticeships, and national service. 
  • When funding green jobs and climate programs, prioritize programs that explicitly focus on youth and opportunity youth — especially programs that help youth pursue entrepreneurship in the green economy.
  • Create a new funding stream for organizing opportunity youth, youth who are impacted by poverty, and other youth facing employment barriers to create and implement self-designed community projects that address local concerns.
  • Create funding streams specifically for opportunity youth and other young adults who are in caregiving roles, including pilot programs offering financial support and training opportunities that could unlock career opportunities in the care workforce. 
3.13.3 | Guarantee all people inclusive and consistent onramps into the workforce, expanding how employers view skills, qualifications, and experiences.
  • Remove hiring restrictions that unnecessarily restrict government jobs to individuals who have college degrees, while incentivizing and supporting private employers to adopt skills-based hiring practices that make their openings more accessible to “STARs” — workers skilled through routes other than a four-year college degree.
  • Provide training and technical assistance to public and private sector employers so that they can adopt skills-based employment practices, such as by expanding programs like the Workforce Innovative Opportunity Act technical assistance, “Good Jobs Initiative” programming at the Department of Labor, and other programs that would serve these goals while increasing equity in employment outcomes.
  • Support apprenticeship, national service, subsidized work, and similar programs to provide career counseling and coaching programming that helps participants understand how to leverage their experience when seeking full-time employment — and what employer or career pathways may be good matches for their skills. See demand #11 for more information regarding subsidized employment, apprenticeships, and national service. 
3.13.4 | Guarantee all young people a chance to make financial decisions — and, critically, obtain the knowledge to make financial decisions — that will help them secure economic dignity throughout their lives.
  • Encourage states to adopt curricular standards addressing personal finance and financial literacy. 
  • Work with affordable housing developers so that all low-income housing developments offer financial literacy programming to residents. 
  • Prioritize federal funding for child care centers that offer culturally responsive, two-generational programming, and increase Head Start and other funding as needed to help centers begin offering this programming. See demand #2 for more details regarding child care and early learning. 
3.14 Build a workforce that can meet the education and care needs of this country.
3.14.1 | Guarantee access to affordable, high-quality training opportunities for all individuals entering care jobs like child care, preschool, prekindergarten, community safety, mental health, elder care, and other similar positions.
  • Help community colleges develop new models of training that deeply involve community members and community organizations in identifying, designing, and delivering training programs for the care workforce.
  • Improve the capacity and funding of community colleges so that they can provide high-quality, accessible programs related to community health (i.e., mental health, addiction and harm reduction, midwifery, home nursing, community health), community safety (i.e., violence prevention, civilian crisis response, street outreach), and people care (i.e., child care, elder care, disability care). See demand #12 for more details regarding community colleges.
  • Ensure free Lifetime Learning Credits to all people who call the United States home, ensuring all people access to post-secondary training programs that relate to the care economy. See demand #12 for more details regarding Lifetime Learning Credits.
  • Smooth the transition between post-secondary training programs and care roles, including by fostering partnerships that unite community colleges, nonprofits, local governments, private companies, and other stakeholders to help graduates secure full-time positions. 
3.14.2 | Guarantee that all care roles offer economic dignity to employees, turning these roles into “double dignity” jobs that provide dignity both to the workers and to the people who are being cared for.
  • Require that all care positions — positions that, by definition, increase dignity for children, families, elderly individuals, disabled individuals, and so many others — also offer workers the economic dignity that they deserve, including through living wages, full benefits, and workforce protections.
  • Ensure that child care and early childhood educators with similar qualifications and training have at least full compensation parity with K – 3 counterparts who work in their districts, as well as across the mixed delivery system — meaning the broad range of center-based, family-based, Head Start, Early Head Start, public school, and community-based organization options for care. Ensure that this adequate compensation applies to the entire early childhood education workforce, including special education teachers.
3.14.3 | Allocate dedicated resources to build, support, and diversify the special education, child care, preschool, prekindergarten, and broader education workforce.
  • Provide service scholarships and loan forgiveness programs for special education, child care, preschool, and prekindergarten trainees, increasing incentives to enter the profession, and make federal scholarships and loan forgiveness programs available to early childhood educators from any early learning setting — including school-based, home-based, and center-based settings.
  • Make all states develop a plan for diversifying their educator workforce, including publicly-reported data and goals and metrics for implementing the plan.
  • Provide funding for certification programs that address teacher shortages, including programs that particularly certify teachers of color, paraprofessionals of color, and bilingual teachers who can teach multilingual learners and students who have disabilities.
  • Increase funding for apprenticeship programs, Grow Your Own programs, T.E.A.C.H., early childhood, and other scholarship models for educators and early childhood educators, including early childhood special educators and early interventionists. Keep an emphasis on historically Black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, and other minority-serving institutions.
  • Support professional development to prepare early educators so that they can work effectively in integrated settings, including research on socioeconomic, racial/ethnic, and ability differences.
  • To assess whether there is diversity within preschool classrooms, require that state and federal data be disaggregated by racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, linguistic, and cultural characteristics and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act status.
  • Provide equitable and accessible pathways to obtaining early childhood and special education qualifications.
3.14.4 | Allocate dedicated resources to build, support, and diversify the mental health, behavioral health, maternal health, and community safety workforces.
  • Dramatically increase funding so that communities can hire and train mental and behavioral health, violence prevention, maternal health, and community health workers who can fill critical roles in the community health and safety landscape. Examples of these roles include counselors, therapists, doulas, midwives, doulas, community nurses, non-carceral crisis responders, violence interrupters, and more. Include funding to build and maintain community clinics, departments of community safety, and other institutions  that can support these workers.
  • Increase compensation for all mental health and similar provider roles, increasing incentives to pursue these careers.
  • Simplify standards and improve enforcement of parity requirements as far as insurance reimbursement of mental healthcare.
  • Develop “behavioral health provider roles” that can perform a subset of care provision tasks (e.g., preventive care, psychoeducation), have lower training or licensure requirements, are amenable to workplace training, and can be “stepping stone” jobs to full licensure — much like the various levels in the nursing profession. Incorporate a skills-first approach to ensure positions are accessible to “STARs” (see demand #13 for more information regarding “STARs”) who have relevant, if nontraditional, work or training experience.
  • Address bottlenecks in training new providers, including by—
    • Expanding the number of training program seats;
    • Reducing the cost of training programs, including through programs that repay program costs following years of work; 
    • Exploring existing workforce investments that could support workers to pay training costs, such as Workforce Investment Opportunity Act funding; and
    • On a state-by-state basis, evaluating and addressing onerous licensure requirements.