IEL and Partners to Host Institute on School-Community Partnerships

A teacher sits in a classroom with elementary school students.10/23/2014 - IEL's Coalition for Community Schools and its partners are co-sponsoring a free institute entitled “Sustaining High-Impact School-Community Partnerships” in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition to IEL, event co-sponsors include the Maryland Equity Project at the College of Education at the University of Maryland, Family League of Baltimore City, and Morgan State University.

This institute will bring together educators, community activists, researchers and policymakers to discuss and share resources on the direction of school-community partnerships in Maryland. It will draw from the expertise of academics, practitioners, and advocates to discuss what is needed to sustain them, and what advocacy and policies are crucial to supporting them.

Institute organizers intend for the event to help participants develop strong regional networks and share resources with peers, while also developing strong policies to best support school-community partnerships in Maryland and ways to advocate for them.

Register for the institute.

U.S. Department of Education Issues Anti-Bullying Guidance

A high school student being bullied by her classmates in the background10/22/2014 - As part of National Bullying Prevention Month, the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidance to schools, reminding them that bullying is wrong and must not be tolerated.

The Department issued guidance in the form of a letter to educators detailing public schools’ responsibilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of Americans with Disabilities Act regarding the bullying of students with disabilities. If a student with a disability is being bullied, federal law requires schools to take immediate and appropriate action to investigate the issue and, as necessary, take steps to stop the bullying and prevent it from recurring.

This guidance builds upon anti-bullying guidance the Department has issued in recent years concerning schools’ legal obligations to fix the problem, including

  • a 2013 dear colleague letter and enclosure by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) clarifying that when bullying of a student with a disability results in the student not receiving meaningful educational benefit under IDEA, the school must remedy the problem, regardless of whether the bullying was based on the student’s disability;
  • a 2010 dear colleague letter by OCR which elaborated on potential violations when bullying and harassment is based on race, color, national origin, sex, or disability; and
  • a 2000 dear colleague letter by the OCR and OSERS, which explained that bullying based on disability may violate civil rights laws enforced by OCR as well as interfere with a student’s receipt of special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The latest letter makes clear that the protections for students with disabilities who are bullied on any basis extend to the roughly three quarters of a million students who are not eligible for IDEA services but are entitled to services under the broader Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. That law bars discrimination on the basis of disability in all programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.

IEL and its National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth are national partners for National Bullying Prevention Month, which is organized by PACER Center.

IEL Celebrates National Disability Employment Month

An employer at a job fair talks with potential new hires, some of whom may have disabilities.10/21/2014 - During the month of October, IEL and its National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth) are celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Organized by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), NDEAM is a campaign aimed to raise awareness about disability employment issues and celebrate contributions of employees with disabilities. This year's theme is “Expect. Employ. Empower.”

In celebration of NDEAM, on October 14, IEL’s NCWD/Youth staff attended the White House Disability Employment Champions of Change event, which honored 10 individuals working to improve inclusive workplace outcomes for people with disabilities. The event focused on recruitment, hiring practices, and what employees can do to retain and promote employees with disabilities.

At the event, ODEP Assistant Secretary Kathy Martinez unveiled a new public service announcement entitled “Who I Am,” which shows people with disabilities sharing the many characteristics that make them who they are, including their jobs. Martinez also penned a related blog entitled “Building Inclusion.”

Organizations and individuals around the country can take the time during NDEAM to reflect on their own disability employment practices or to organize events promoting disability hiring such as Disability Mentoring Day (DMD), a national job-shadowing initiative for youth and job-seekers with disabilities.

Full-Service Community School Grantees Announced

U.S. Department of Education Seal (a tree growing out of an acorn with a sun and rays behind it)10/10/2014 - The U.S. Department of Education today announced the nine awardees of the 2014 Full Service Community Schools grants out of a pool of 147 applications. The high number of applicants despite the small number of awards available proves the continued need and demand for a comprehensive approach to student learning and development that community schools provide.

The nine new awardees represent 26 schools and a range of urban and rural places that will add to the 90 places and the 38 states already operating community schools across the country. The grants are led by partnerships among school districts and community-based organizations. The awardees include two school districts (Oakland Unified School District and San Antonio Independent School District), two institutions of higher education (Berea College in Kentucky and Montclair State University in New Jersey), and five non-profit organizations (Los Angeles Education Partnership, Youth Policy Institute also of Los Angeles, Frida Kahlo Community Organization of Chicago, Lancaster County Partners 4 Youth of South Carolina, and Southwest Key Programs of Austin, Texas).

According to Martin J. Blank, IEL president and director of the Coalition for Community Schools, “The range of partnerships and communities represented here demonstrates the increasing attention that educators and community leaders are giving toward community schools. We look forward to working with all awardees to share resources and connect them with our community school leaders as part of a nationwide peer learning network.”

These awards come on the heels of bipartisan federal legislation to authorize this program through the Full Service Community Schools Act (HR 5168), cosponsored by House Minority Whip and longtime community schools champion Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL), who has lauded the results of the community schools in his district in Peoria, Illinois.

This year’s awards come from an allocation of $10 million for community schools in the FY 2014 omnibus bill, $4.7 million of which went to these new awardees. The rest will go toward grantees in the 2010 cohort. These 26 new community schools will build upon the 64 full service community schools established in prior rounds of funding. Congress has now invested $30 million in the program since 2008.

The Coalition congratulates these new awardees and looks forward to working with them to ensure the highest-quality community schools for their students, families and communities.

Read the U.S. Department of Education announcement.

Report Finds Employers Attuned to People with Disabilities Needs, Need Work on Hiring Front

Report Cover: 2014 National Study of Employers: Including the Talents of Employees with Disabilities by Kenneth Matos; Logos: Family and Work Institute, Society for Human Resource Management; When Work Works10/9/2014 - The Families and Work Institute has released a new report entitled 2014 National Study of Employers: Including the Talents of Employees with Disabilities. The report finds that employers in the United States are attuned to the needs of employees with disabilities when it comes to readjusting tasks when needed but largely lack concerted efforts to attract and hire these employees.

While many conversations about employing people with disabilities focus on the physical changes needed to provide access to workplaces (e.g., ramps, elevators, specialized workspaces), procedural adjustments, such as greater workplace flexibility, are also useful tools for creating an environment where employees with disabilities can succeed.

The report also found that two human resource management techniques that could contribute to better applying the talents of all employees—including those with disabilities—were uncommon.

Read the full report.

New Guidance from the U.S. Department of Education on Resource Equity

U.S. Department of Education Seal (a tree growing out of an acorn with a sun and rays behind it)10/9/2014 - The U.S. Department of Education, through its Office for Civil Rights (OCR), released guidance in the form of a Dear Colleague Letter to ensure that students have equal access to educational resources. The guidance provides detailed and concrete information to educators on the standards established by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The guidance is one part of the president's equity agenda and takes into account the ongoing efforts of states, school districts, and schools to improve equity. All students—regardless of race, color, national origin, or zip code—deserve a high-quality education that includes resources such as academic and extracurricular programs, strong teaching, technology and instructional materials, and safe school facilities.

Learn more from OCR.

USDOL Awards $1M to IEL to Continue National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth

Logo: National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth: Navigating the Road to Work

9/12/2014 - The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy awarded IEL $1,099,984 for the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth). IEL will use this money to continue building capacity within and across youth service delivery systems to improve employment and postsecondary education outcomes for all youth, inlcuding youth with disabilities. NCWD/Youth has three areas of focus going forward: 1) career exploration, management, and planning, 2) youth development and leadership, and 3) professional development.

IEL began NCWD/Youth in 2001. The technical assistance center helps state and local workforce development systems to better serve all youth, including youth with disabilities and other disconnected youth. NCWD/Youth has been made up of a variety of partners throughout the years with specialties including disability, youth development, workforce development, secondary and postsecondary education, research, and more. The current partners include Boston University, the Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota, and the PACER Center.

IEL’s Coalition for Community Schools, Education Facilities Clearinghouse to Host Webinar on Community Schools Facilities

Two Logos: Coalition for Community Schools (group of stylized children); Education Facilities Clearinghouse (EFC) (stylized person holding up a small school building)
8/26/2014 – On September 15, IEL’s Coalition for Community Schools and The George Washington University’s Education Facilities Clearinghouse (EFC) will convene a free webinar entitled “Community School Facilities: Authentic Engagement, Shared Space, and Neighborhood Hub." The webinar will cover how school construction and renovation can provide unique opportunities for authentic community engagement and advancement of community schools. The session will feature administrators sharing cutting-edge strategies from community schools efforts in Cincinnati, Ohio and Baltimore, Maryland, as well as insights from EFC researchers.

Learn more.

Bipartisan Bill Introduced in House to Expand Community Schools

Side-by-side official photos of Reps. Aaron Schock and Steny Hoyer
7/25/2014 - IEL's Coalition for Community Schools and its nearly 200 partners applauded the leadership of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) for their bipartisan introduction of the Full-Service Community Schools Act of 2014 (H.R. 5016) in the House in a press release issued last week.

Hoyer has been a longstanding champion for community schools, having introduced this bill in every congressional session since 2005. Schock has seen first-hand the positive impact of the three full-service community schools in his district in Peoria, IL.

Learn more!

House Passes Youth-Friendly Workforce Bill, Ready for Presidential Signature

Close-up of the dome of the U.S. Capitol building7/10/2014 - Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014 in an astoundingly bi-partisan 415-6 vote. The U.S. Senate previously passed this bill with an equally overwhelming 95-3 vote. WIOA is now off to the president's desk for his signature.

WIOA will replace the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998. Congress has not been able to re-authorize or replace WIA since it expired in 2003, due largely to partisan stances on particular elements of different reauthorization attempts and that the bill frequently fell too far down congressional priority lists to be completed by the end of a two-year session.

WIA and WIOA form the backbone of our nation's workforce infrastructure. Each year, Congress appropriates funds that are distributed through th U.S. Department of Labor to states based on a formula laid out in the legislation. States then pass on the funds to local workforce systems that help youth and adult job seekers and dislocated workers gain work and employability skills and recieve job search and placement assistance.

According to the National Youth Employment Coalition:

WIOA maintains a separate Youth Activities program and funding stream, and incorporates a number of other recommendations advanced over the years by the National Youth Employment Coalition and other youth organizations, advocates and practitioners, including easing income eligibility determination, increasing the age range for out-of-school youth to 16-24, and amending performance measures to remove some barriers to serving high-risk youth and young adults. In addition, the bill prioritizes services to out-of-school youth and Youth Councils, mandated by WIA as subgroups of local boards, are eliminated in favor of  standing committees on youth, which may be appointed to oversee youth programs in local areas.


IEL-Led Initiative Seeks Youth Applications for Our Youth Action Council on Transition

Some of the 2013 YouthACT cohort7/8/2014 - The IEL-led National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth) is accepting applications from teams of young people to participate in our Youth Action Council on Transtion (YouthACT).

YouthACT is a national initiative to involve more youth with disabilities and their allies as leaders, partnering with adults and organizations to improve opportunities for youth to succeed in life. “Transition” is the process and period of change that youth go through to become adults. Transition typically occurs between ages 12 and 25. During transition, youth need a variety of opportunities and supports to learn and develop skills and experience, set and achieve goals, and make personal decisions about school, work, and life.

Applicants are eligible if they are between 12 and 25 at the time of applying, have a disability or an ally of the disability community, are part of a team that includes an adult partner from a sponsoring organization, and have parental permission if under 18. Applications are due July 31, 2014.

Learn more.

Education Policy Fellowship Program Accepting Applications for 2014-15

Some members of the 2013 DC EPFP cohort7/2/2014 - In partnership with its 14 state-based program sites, IEL is now recruiting for the 2014-2015 cohort of the Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP™). EPFP™ prepares high-potential individuals for positions of leadership in education and related fields. The program recruits over 200 Fellows annually and operates in Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachussetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.

At a time when, there are so many different viewpoints about what it takes to educate our children, experiences like EPFP are essential. The 10-month program provides a forum in which participants (Fellows) broaden their understanding of education issues through cross-sector and cross-boundary learning. The knowledge and understanding of leadership and policy as well as the networks developed during the EPFP experience provide a foundation upon which Fellows help to strengthen the education community and build their careers.

Visit the EPFP website for more information on each state site program and to learn how to apply or contact if you have any questions.

New York City Invests $52 Million in Community Schools

Two high school students at a New York City community school with their arms around each other's shoulders.6/25/2014 - IEL's Coalition for Community Schools (CCS) applauds New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio for his leadership and commitment to expandimg community schools in the city. The partnership between the city, New York State Department of Education, and United Way of New York City will invest $52 million in 40 community schools over four years. This partnership reflects the mission of community schools across the country: to unite school and community to help students succeed and families and communities prosper.

Read the CCS press release.

DC Advocacy Partner Appointed to President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities

Headshot of Ricardo Thornton6/20/2014 - Ricardo Thornton, Sr., a member of IEL’s inaugural class of DC Advocacy Partners was appointed to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Of Ricardo and his fellow appointees, President Obama said, “I am confident that these outstanding men and women will serve the American people well in their new roles, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.” In addition to being a graduate of DC Advocacy Partners, Ricardo is a member of Project ACTION!, a coalition of adults with disabilities and is a member of the D.C. Developmental Disabilities Council. He serves as international ambassador with the Special Olympics.

IEL to Partner in National Bullying Prevention Month

Array of "Teens Against Bullying" bookmarks, featuring individual youth opposing bullying.6/18/2014 - IEL is a national partner participating in PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Month this October. Partners are national organizations that focus on bullying prevention, education, or children and youth with disabilities and agree to disseminate information about National Bullying Prevention Month through their online and print media. As October approaches, we will be spreading the word about the month through our social media, blogs, and other resources.

As October nears, PACER will share more information about events happening during National Bullying Prevention Month, including

  • Run, Walk, Roll Against Bullying Events Across the Country
    Communities nationwide are invited to hold a Run, Walk, Roll Against Bullying in October. A Run, Walk, Roll Against Bullying is a family-friendly event held by schools, businesses, or communities to show the nation’s commitment to keeping students safe while at school, in the community, and online. Learn more on the website or by joining the Facebook page for organizers around the country.
  • Unity Day – Wednesday, Oct. 22
    What are your true colors when it comes to bullying? If you care about safe and supportive schools and communities make your color orange on Unity Day. That’s the day everyone can come together—in schools, communities, and online—and send one large orange message of support, hope, and unity. Schools sign UNITY banners, employees dress in orange, and students hold events to unite their schools for bullying prevention. Learn more about participating.

Minnesota WorkForce Center Signs Agreement with USDOL to Serve Customers with Disabilities in Integrated Settings

Official Seal of the U.S. Department of Labor: stylized eagle with spread wings over a crest with symbols inlcuding an anvil and plow6/10/2014 - The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that it has entered into a conciliation agreement to resolve allegations of disability discrimination by an American Job Center in Burnsville, Minnesota. The U.S. Labor Department's Civil Rights Center investigated a complaint claiming that the Dakota County Burnsville WorkForce Center required a customer who was perceived to have a disability to attend an orientation for a vocational rehabilitation program before it would permit her to receive services that were not limited to individuals with disabilities.

Read the full press release.

IEL Honors the Memory of Samuel Halperin, Former IEL President and Life-Long Champion of Equity in Education

Photo of the late Samuel Halperin holding a copy of his report "The Forgotten Half"5/30/2014 - The Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) honors the memory and contributions of Dr. Samuel Halperin, who died at home in Washington, DC on May 6, 2014. He was 83. Halperin was the president of IEL from 1974 to 1981.

Sam made numerous significant national contributions to the field of education. In 1961, he joined the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, where he became the Deputy Assistant Secretary and the Assistant U.S. Commissioner for Legislation at the U.S. Office of Education. He helped enact both the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Higher Education Act. These landmark bills dedicated resources to improve the education of disadvantaged young people.

He joined IEL in 1969, creating and directing the Educational Staff Seminar, an executive and legislative branch learning experience, from 1969 to 1974. During his leadership, IEL launched a number of national- and state-based programs, including IEL’s flagship Education Policy Fellowship Program, which has helped to develop the leadership, policy, and networking skills of more than 8000 participants throughout its 50-year history. Halperin’s bi-partisan political skills and entrepreneurship made IEL the hub of policy and leadership development activities, not only in the nation’s capital but throughout the country.

In 1993, Halperin founded the Washington, DC-based American Youth Policy Forum as part of his continuing dedication to equity issues and informing policymakers on education and and youth issues in a bi-partisan manner. Halperin was also renowned for co-authoring the groundbreaking report The Forgotten Half.

Halperin mentored young professionals who became national leaders, including renowned journalist John Merrow, who serves on IEL’s board and worked for IEL during Halperin’s tenure as president. For more on Merrow’s thoughts on Halperin, please read Merrow’s blog.

The Washington Post published a detailed obituary recognizing Halperin’s remarkable legacy. Education Week also posted a piece in memory of Halperin. Halperin’s survivors include his wife of 59 years, Marlene Epstein Halperin, two children, Elan Halperin and Deena Barlev, and five grandchildren.

Michael Usdan, former IEL president who succeeded Halperin, has worked with the family and others in organizing a celebratory program to honor Halperin on Monday, June 9, 2014 at The George Washington University. The celebration will be held in the Continental Ballroom at the Marvin Center (800 West 21st Street, NW, Washington, DC) from 10:00 am to 11:30 am. A reception will follow in Room 309 of the Marvin Center.

Department of Labor Launches Individualized Learning Plan Interactive Policy Map

Map of the United States in pastel shades of green, blue, and purple.5/30/2014 - Many states have adopted policies that require all students to develop and maintain an individualized learning plan (ILP) in order to make schools more personalized and improve student outcomes. The Office of Disability Employment Policy, in collaboration with its partners the IEL-led National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth, Social Dynamics, and the Altarum Institute, sought to determine the status of ILP implementation across the U.S. The results were compiled into one, easy-to-use tool, the ILP Interactive Policy Map, which has been released with an accompanying brief "ILPs Across the U.S." The purpose of the map is to provide a snapshot of ILP implementation in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Scroll over the states to learn about the status of ILPs and click on states to find out more detailed information about specific ILP policies and how students with disabilities are being included in these critical college and career readiness tools. The ILP Interactive Policy Map joins ODEP's other ILP resources, including the "Kickstart Your ILP" toolkit and the "Shelly Saves the Future" info-comic.

IEL's Patricia D. Gill Receives National Association of Workforce Development Professionals 2014 Professional Development Award

Head and shoulders photo of Patricia D. Gill in a pink blazer5/6/2014 - Patricia D. Gill has been working for over 15 years to improve the competence and capacity of workforce development professionals as both a skilled trainer and as a national leader of various professional development initiatives. Her work as a trainer started with the Chicago Youth Agency Partnership. Patricia then joined the Academy for Educational Leadership, where she played an integral role in developing professional development curricula for youth workers and supervisors.

Patricia currently directs the Youth Service Professionals’ Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities initiative, a project of the IEL-led National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth. What sets Patricia apart is her talent for designing and delivering professional development opportunities that are truly engaging for adult learners and full of practical strategies and easy-to-use tools. She is adept at creating tools and activities that workforce development professionals can use with ease in their day-to-day work with youth. While many people can offer information to professionals, Patricia brings the information to life in ways that enable the learner to understand, retain, and use what they learn to improve their work.

Learn more about the award and recipients.

DOJ Reaches Landmark Settlement with RI on Employment, Integrated Day Services for People with Disabilities

U.S. Department of Justice Seal: An eagle holding arrows in one talon and a branch in the other, standing atop a red, white, and blue shield. Latin motto: Qui Pro Domina Justitia Sequitur4/8/2014 - The Justice Department announced today that it has entered into the nation’s first statewide settlement agreement vindicating the civil rights of individuals with disabilities who are unnecessarily segregated in sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs.  The agreement with the State of Rhode Island will resolve violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for approximately 3,250 Rhode Islanders with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This first-of-its-kind statewide agreement addresses the rights of people with disabilities to receive state-funded employment and daytime services in integrated settings, such as supported employment and integrated day services, rather than in segregated sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs with only other people with disabilities. he agreement also provides relief to transition-age youth at risk of segregation in facility-based programs.  Under the agreement, transition-age youth will have access to a wide array of transition, vocational rehabilitation, and supported employment services intended to lead to integrated employment outcomes after they leave secondary school.  The parties have jointly filed the settlement in federal district court and have requested that it be entered as a court-enforceable Consent Decree.

For more general information about the Justice Department’s ADA Olmstead enforcement efforts, visit the Civil Rights Division’s Olmstead: Community Integration for Everyone website. To find out more about the ADA, visit Division’s website or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD).

IEL’s Community Schools National Forum and Community Schools Movement Highlighted on Cincinnati TV News

Screen Cap from news story: Outdoor press conference with students, educators, and city council member.3/19/2014 - Local media in Cincinnati, Ohio are excited about the upcoming 2014 Community Schools National Forum convened by IEL’s Coalition for Community Schools this April 9-11. Cincinnati’s WLWT Channel 5 News, an NBC affiliate, aired a two-minute piece which included students, the convention bureau CEO, the school board president, a city council member, and others.

Eve Bolton, President of the Cincinnati Public School Board, explains the community schools model, “We want our schools to again be the center of the community. So it’s not just an eight to three experience or just extracurricular activities, but indeed the whole community owns that school, partners in that school, provides services to our students, gets the kids ready to be in the community as community leaders.”

Cincinnati implemented the community schools model in its Community Learning Center initiative, which now includes 26 elementary schools and eight high schools. Last year, IEL’s Coalition for Community Schools recognized the Cincinnati Community Learning Centers with the Community Schools National Award for Excellence.

Logo: “Coalition for Community Schools National Forum 2014; Community Schools: The Engine of Opportunity; April 9-11; Cincinnati, OH.” Construction paper cutout children playing around an orange line drawing of a school house and brightly colored gears.According to Cincinnati City Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld, “Since the Community Learning Center strategy was initiated in Cincinnati, attendance rates have gone up, graduation rates have gone up, health care access has gone up, our academic report card rating has gone up, our academic performance index has gone up, and public trust has gone up!”

Since embracing the Community School vision, Cincinnati’s Community Learning Centers have seen graduation rates rise from 51% to 82% and the achievement gap between African American and white students narrow from 15% to 1%. Cincinnati is the highest-rated urban school district in the state.

Watch the video here.

IEL's DC Advocacy Partners Hosts DC Disability Community Mayoral Candidates Forum

DC mayoral candidatet Reta Jo Lewis addresses the audience at DC Advocacy Partners' DC Disability Community Mayoral Candidates Forum3/14/2014 - On March 8, 2014, the disability community hosted the first ever Mayoral Candidates Forum focused on issues impacting District of Columbia residents with disabilities, sponsored by DC Advocacy Partners and Project ACTION!, two local disability advocacy and leadership development organizations. Candidate Reta Jo Lewis attended the event along with surrogates representing Vincent Gray and Andy Shallal. Candidates and representatives gave prepared statements and answered questions generated by the audience of approximately 75 self-advocates, family members, and friends. All candidates were invited and asked in advance to complete a brief questionnaire detailing their platforms on a wide variety of issues important to DC residents with disabilities including access to quality education, employment, and affordable housing. Full questionnaire responses are available at the DC Advocacy Parnters website.

IEL Staff Testifies on College Success for Students with Disabilities to Senate HELP Committee

Screen Cap from Live Feed: IEL staff Dana Fink testifying at Senate HELP Committee Hearing 2/27/2014 - This morning, IEL's Dana Fink testified before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) at their roundtable hearing entitled "Promoting College Access and Success for Students with Disabilities." The roundtable examined barriers to access and completion for students with disabilities and ways to support their success through the Higher Education Act reauthorization. The Committee asked Fink to talk about her experiences as she transitioned from high school in Georgia to the University of Illinois; provide detail on the physical and programmatic access barriers that she experienced on campus, as well as the supports and services she used and valued; and provide policy recommendations. The hearing is scheduled for Thursday, February 27 at 10:00am. Archived video of the hearing and information about the other witnesses is available on the Senate website.

Read Fink's full testimony here.

RAMP Coordinator Participates in Two White House Events in Same Day

Logo: White text in blue oval below The White House: "The White House, Washington" 2/27/2014 - Taavon James, Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP) Coordinator at Humanim, Inc. in Baltimore, MD, is doing double duty at the White House today. James is participating in a panel discussion on the benefits of mentoring individuals of color with disabilities. His remarks focus on the career-focused mentoring activities that he has been providing in the RAMP and the unique aspects of serving young people of color who may still be coming to terms with their own disability. This dialogue is a part of the African American History Month event at the White House and includes co-panelists Taryn Williams, Youth Policy Advisor, U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy; David Johns, Executive Director, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans; Odunola Ojewumi, Founder of Project ASCEND. The moderator is Patrick Cokley, Policy Advisor, Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor and Moderator of the Lead on Update. Both Williams and Cokley are former IEL staff members.

James was also invited to participate in the launch of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. This event brings together individuals and organizations across the country to discuss strategies to support young men of color that will keep them in school and out of the criminal justice system. The initiative will consist of two phases. First, businesses and foundations will join together to test strategies aimed at ensuring youth arrive at school ready to learn and reducing negative interactions with the criminal justice system. Second, the president will launch an internal administration effort to rigorously evaluate what programs are successful at supporting young minority males.

RAMP is a career-focus mentoring program and is a project of IEL.

Executive Order Raising Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors Includes People with Disabilities

President Obama signs an executive order at his desk in the Oval Office2/13/2014 - Yesterday,the President signed an Executive Order that will raise the minimum wage of individuals employed by federal contractors to $10.10 per hour beginning January 1, 2015. The minimum wage hike applies to all individuals working under new service or concession contracts with the Federal government, including people with disabilities. Under current law, workers whose productivity is affected by their disabilities may be paid subminimum wages under certain specialized certificate programs authorized pursuant to Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

The inclusion of people with disabilities in this minimum wage hike is being applauded by the disability community as a tremendous victory for federal contract workers with disabilities. Read the White House Fact Sheet on the Executive Order to learn the impact on the minimum wage for all federal contractors, including those with disabilities.

IEL Commends Investments for Children and Youth in FY14 Omnibus

Detail of U.S. Capital building as illustrated on the back of the $50 bill1/23/2014 - The FY 2014 omnibus-the federal spending package to fund the remainder of FY 2014-was recently approved and contains big wins for programs aligned with IEL’s work. Several of these programs received a significant boost of funding: Head Start, Career and Technical Education, Workforce Investment, and others. One program, Full-Service Community Schools, was restored at $10 million after a hiatus of funding since FY 2010. Review our press release for more information and what these wins mean for IEL’s work.

The HSC Foundation, PPC, and IEL Release Roundtable Report on Health Care Transition

Logo: The HSC Health Care System: The HSC Foundation (blue diamond with a stylized white heart and three yellow human sillhouettes holding hands)1/23/2014 - In the summer of 2012, The HSC Foundation, in partnership with Physician-Parent Caregivers (PPC), and the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL)hosted a model multi-stakeholder roundtable to discuss how to advance health care transition in an era of post-health care reform, dwindling medical resources, and a struggling economy. The Roundtable discussion topics included: 1) Meeting the health care needs of youth and young adults with chronic conditions and disabilities; 2) Transformation of primary care in health care transition; and, 3) Improving the health care workforce for health care transition. Read the Multi-Stakeholder Roundtable Report.

MENTOR Releases "The Mentoring Effect: Young People's Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availablity of Mentoring"

Cover of "The Mentoring Effect" report1/16/2013 - The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring was commissioned by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership with support from AT&T, and written by Civic Enterprises in partnership with Hart Research. This report is informed by the first-ever nationally representative survey of 1,109 young people ages 18-21 on the topic of mentoring, as well as a literature and landscape review with insight from a variety of key leaders in business, philanthropy, government, and education.

Read The Mentoring Effect.

New York Times Series Profiles Homelessness' Impact in the Life of One Girl

Head and shoulders of 11-year-old Dasani outside at night wearing a pink winter hat12/9/2013 - The New York Times recently published a five-chapter series entitled "Invisible Child," chronicling the daily life, struggles, and aspirations of Dasani, an 11-year-old New York City girl, and her family who are homeless and living in a run-down shelter. The series follows Dasani at home, school, and in her community as it shines a bright spotlight on the stark inequalities persisting in America's largest city.

Chapter 1 Intro: "She wakes to the sound of breathing. The smaller children lie tangled beside her, their chests rising and falling under winter coats and wool blankets. A few feet away, their mother and father sleep near the mop bucket they use as a toilet. Two other children share a mattress by the rotting wall where the mice live, opposite the baby, whose crib is warmed by a hair dryer perched on a milk crate."

Read the whole story.

IEL Partnering to Deliver Webinar on Disability Disclosure in the Recruitment and Hiring Process

Workbookcover: The 411 on Disability Disclosure12/5/2013 - On December 12 at 1:00 pm EST, IEL Youth Development Specialist Jennifer Thomas, as part of her work on the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth), will deliver a webinar with Lou Orslene, co-director of the Job Accomodation Network (JAN). The webinar, entitled "Disclosing Disability: What You Need to Know," will cover how and when to disclose disability during the recruitment and employment process, as well as what employers' responsibilities are to accommodate needs in the workplace. The webinar is sponsored by the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium in partnership with the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (AskEarn). Maria Town with the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) will moderate the webinar. NCWD/Youth, JAN, and AskEarn are all ODEP-funded technical assistance centers. Learn more about the webinar!

NCWD/Youth's disability disclosure resources include:

IEL Selects Five Sites for New 'Right Turn' Juvenile Justice Initiative

Right Turn: Empowering Youth, Transforming Communities11/20/2013 - IEL announced the selection of five sites across the country for the Right Turn Career-Focused Transition Initiative (Right Turn). The project will provide individualized education, exposure to career opportunities, career preparation, and work-based learning experiences for youth ages 14 and up who are involved in the juvenile corrections system and returning to or currently residing in high-poverty, high-crime communities. Following a competitive nationwide application process, IEL selected the following sites: Goodwill Industries of Houston, Houston, TX; KentuckianaWorks, the Greater Louisville Workforce Investment Board, Louisville, KY; Oasis Center/Transitions Program, Nashville, TN; Peckham, Inc., Lansing, MI; and Playa Vista Job Opportunities and Business Services, Los Angeles, CA.

Read the full press release.

Civil and Human Rights Coalition Lauds Second Chance Act Introduction

Report Cover: "A Second Chance: Charting a New Course for Re-Entry and Criminal Justice Reform" - A man with a briefcase walking down a gray hallway with closed doors.11/14/2013 - Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement on the bipartisan introduction of the Second Chance Reauthorization Act and the release of a new report from The Leadership Conference outlining a comprehensive policy agenda to ease the re-entry process entitled A Second Chance: Charting a New Course for Re-Entry and Criminal Justice Reform: "Today’s introduction of the Second Chance Reauthorization Act is another undeniable sign of bipartisan momentum for criminal justice reform. The lead sponsors of this bill, Senators Portman and Leahy and Representatives Sensenbrenner, Davis, Bachus, Scott, Coble, Fudge, Chabot, and Conyers, come from different sides of the aisle but all understand that these reforms to our criminal justice system are both morally right and financially sound.

The Second Chance report outlines a policy agenda for easing the re-entry of formerly incarcerated individuals into society, leading to a nation that’s safer, more economically sound, and more humane. A prison system that focuses primarily on punishment, rather than rehabilitation—and creates barriers to family unification, employment, education, and civic participation—makes it increasingly difficult for people to reintegrate into their communities. Passing the Second Chance Reauthorization Act is among a number of concrete policies outlined in the report that our nation can implement with bipartisan support. All we must find is the will to do so.”

IEL and AERA to Host Forum on Future of Teaching

Headshot: National Board for Professional Teaching Standards president Ron Thorpe11/6/2013 - On November 22, IEL's Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP) and the American Educational Research Center (AERA) will host a forum entitled "The Future of the Teaching Profession : The Unique Role of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)" at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education from noon until 2:00 pm EST. The forum will feature NBPTS president Ron Thorpe. Space is limited, and reservations are required.

California State Senator Carol Liu Hosts Community Schools Bus Tour

A group of community schools advocates gather in front of a bus with CA State Senator Carol Liu on the Pathways to Partnership Bus Tour.California State Senator Carol Liu (Chair of the Senate Education Committee) recently hosted a bus tour called Pathways to Partnership - Community Schools Strategies in Action. The bus tour was a three day statewide tour of effective cross-agency partnerships in California that are having dynamic impacts connecting students, parents and schools to local resources so that families and communities thrive.

The bus tour was a significant vehicle for state level advocacy for community schools. It brought together a diverse set of stakeholders, including California’s education leaders from school districts, various school boards and school board associations, and Association of School Administrators, as well as leaders such as James Mayer, CEO of California Forward, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, who are all working to bring government closer to the people and to transform the government into an efficient, effective body, focused on performance, accountability, and transparency.

“Senator Liu is very engaged and passionate in addressing issues of poverty across the state. Her bus tour, Pathways to Partnership – Community School Strategies in Action, reflects her passion and understanding of community schools as a vehicle for addressing these poverty issues. Many of the community schools we visited are on the vanguard of what’s happening systems-wide in California. We had a remarkable time, even nicknamed the bus “Liu-mobile for children and families,” says Robert Mahaffey, Vice-Chair, Coalition for Community Schools Communications; Marketing Director, Rural School and Community Trust

Media Attention


For more information, visit the Coalition for Community School's website.

Join this Week's #PTchat on Twitter: "What Parents Want Teachers to Know" (10/30 @ 9pm EDT)

#PTchat logo: Parents & Teachers; #PTchat on twitter; Wednesdays @ 9pm ET10/28/2013 - This week's Parent Teacher Chat (#PTchat) will focus on "What Parents Want Teachers to Know." Join us Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 9:00 pm EDT!

#PTchat is is a social media professional development conversation that enables parents, family engagement practitioners, teachers and others to develop new and innovative approaches to partnerships. Follow and tweet at the Twitter hashtag #PTchat to participate.

Learn more about #PTchat or visit the archived chats!

IEL's Helen Malone to Speak at Gutman Library Distinguished Author Event on Global Lessons for Education Reform on Nov. 12

Headshot: Helen Malone10/24/2013 - On November 12, IEL's Director of Institutional Advancement Dr. Helen Janc Malone will participate in a panel discussion entitled "Leading Educational Change: Global Issues, Challenges, and Lessons on Whole-System Reform." The event is part of the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Gutman Library Distinguished Author Series and will include co-panelists Pasi Sahlberg, Director General for the Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation in Finland; Sherry L. Deckman, Assistant Professor of Social and Cultural Foundations of Education at Ithaca College; Andy Hargreaves, Thomas More Brennar Chair at the Lynch School of Education at Boston College; and Dennis Shirly, Professor of Education, also at the Lynch School of Education.

The event will be November 12 from 5:00 - 7:00 pm EST at the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Monroe C. Gutman Library in Cambridge, Mass.

Dr. Malone recently edited a book, Leading Educational Change: Global Issues, Challenges, and Lessons on Whole-System Reform through Teachers College Press. She is also a contributor to Education Week's International Perspectives on Education Reform blog.

IEL to Present on Nov. 6 Webinar on Pathways to Postsecondary Education for Youth in Juvenile Justice

Cover: "Making the Right Turn: A Guide About Improving Transition Outcomes for Youth Involved in the Juvenile Corrections System"
10/24/2013 - On November 6, Patricia D. Gill, Senior Program Associate in IEL's Center for Workforce Development, will participate on a webinar entitled "Building Pathways to Postsecondary Education for Youth Involved in the Juvenile Justice System." The webinar, hosted by the American Youth Policy Forum, will also include Yelena Nemoy of the Washington, D.C.-based National Youth Employment Coalition andSophia Morel of the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services in New York City. Gill will present on the "Guideposts for Success for Youth Involved in the Juvenile Corrections System," enumerated in Making the Right Turn: A Guide About Improving Transition Outcomes for Youth Involved in the Juvenile Corrections System," published by the IEL-led National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth.

IEL to Host National Discussion on Family Engagement in Individualized Learning Plans on Oct. 23

Logo 1: "Parents and Teachers: #PTchat, twitter, Wednesday @ 9pm EST; Logo 2: National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth10/21/2013 - As part of the IEL-led National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth's work on Individualized Learning Plans (ILPs), IEL will host it's next Twitter-based Parent-Teacher Chat (#PTchat) on "Family Engagement in ILPs."

The discussion begins on Wednesday, October 23 at 9:00 pm EDT. Login to Twitter and follow and post to the hashtag #PTchat.

Students ILPs to define career goals and postsecondary plans and inform their decisions about courses and activities throughout high school. As a process, the ILP provides students and their families with opportunities for career development, including self-exploration, career exploration, and career planning and management skill building activities. Typically, schools require family engagement in the ILP process, including reviewing and updating the plan each year.

Here are three facts you should know:

  1. Interviews with state and local officials indicate that the ILP provides an important opportunity for students, families, and school staff to discuss students’ goals for the future.
  2. Families find the ILP experience to be valuable and reported stronger positive regard for the school and stronger relationships with their youth as a result of the ILP process.
  3. When schools use electronic vs. paper ILPs, they are able to link to web-based career information systems. For families this makes it easier to view the student’s ePortfolio as information becomes accessible from home.

Currently, 25 states and the District of Columbia require ILPs. The remaining states still implement ILPs in a variety of ways. Learn what term different states give to ILPs and how they use them.

IEL to Host Nov. 19 Webinar on Fiscally Strong Nonprofits

Three Dimesional Objects: Standing Orange Question Mark Surrounded by four blue arrows pointing away at 90 degree angles. In between each blue arrow is a gray shadow arrow, also pointing away from the question mark.10/21/2013 - IEL, the Wallace Foundation, and Fiscal Management Associates (FMA) are hosting a webinar entitled "Strong Nonprofits: Build Your Fiscal Fitness," on November 19 from 3:00 to 4:00 pm EST. Participants will learn about an online resource,, that provides support on financial sustainability, and how to connect strong financial program operation to the delivery and sustainability of high-quality services to children and youth. Topics will include winning grants, realistic financial planning, and maintaining a resourceful and mission driven focus.

The webinar will feature Michelle Morrison, CEO of Chicago-based Youth Guidance, and John Summers, Manager of Consulting Services at FMA.

Register for the webinar online.

For more information, contact Reuben Jacobson, Senior Associate for Research and Strategy, Coalition for Community Schools at the Institute for Educational Leadership via email at or by phone at 202-822-8405 ext. 131.

Join IEL & AERA for the ED Policy Forum: "New Assessments, Better Instruction?” on Oct. 18

Report Cover: "New Assessments, Better Instruction?"10/8/2013 - The next AERA/IEL Education Policy Forum Luncheon on the topic of “New Assessments, Better Instruction?” will be held on Friday, October 18, 2013 from noon until 2:00 pm at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education in the ground floor conference room (1307 New York Ave. NW). Thirteen dollars for the subsidized lunch will be collected at the door. Required reservations may be sent by email to Christy Talbot at AERA.

Everyone knows how testing advocates, including advocates of the Common Core Assessments, answer this question. What seems to be missing from the debates over assessments, however, is a review of the research that would inform our thinking in this area. Happily, others also thought this would be a timely activity, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation provided funding to enable RAND Education scholars to develop a comprehensive review of the literature, one that encompasses research in other countries and in learning arenas other than K-12 traditional schools.

The report is the very model of a modern literature review and challenges many well-loved assumptions (e.g., what is learned is what is tested). Conditions that make assessments conducive to improved instruction and achievement are explored. Additionally, there is a comprehensive review of factors that determine how educators respond to assessments – old as well as new – and the conditions that seem to be required if educators’ actual practices are to be modified. The conclusions include discussion of the impact of educator capacity and beliefs about assessments, assessments for accountability, and specific conditions of district and school assessment policy. An Introduction to the report will be distributed at the meeting.

Laura Hamilton, a senior research scientist at RAND, will present an overview of the literature review and answer questions about how assessments do or do not improve instruction. In addition to her role at RAND, she is a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and an adjunct associate professor in the University of Pittsburgh's Learning Sciences and Policy program.

*Required reservations may be sent by email to Christy Talbot at AERA.

Read IEL's Latest Huffington Post Blog on Community School Collaborations and Early Childhood Education!

Huffingtonn Post Logo: black "H" in a green box above "The Huffington Post"10/8/2013 - IEL's Janet Brown, Senior Early Childhood Program Specialist and Kwesi Rollins, Director of Leadership Programs, recently wrote a blog for the Huffington Post entitled "Community School Collaborations - A Lifeline for Early Learning Program Success." The blog highlights the societal benefits identified in longitudinal studies of Perry Preschool and Abecedarian early childhood programs, as well as IEL's Coalition for Community Schools' Early Childhood/Community School Linkages Project.

Save the Date! Family and Community Engagement Conference April 8-9

Save the Date: National Family Engagement Conference. April 8-9, 2014. Hilton Netherland Plaza Hotel, Cincinnati, OH10/1/2013 - IEL will convene a national conference focused on the intersection between family engagement and educational equity on April 8-9 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Engaging Parents & Expanding Opportunities will bring together various stakeholders concerned with enhancing and expanding opportunities for ALL children and families and strengthening partnerships to improve engagement at all levels. Conference workshops and activities will address four aspects of quality engagement practices: parent leadership for school improvement, parent-teacher partnerships, families and inclusion, and family engagement in early learning and literacy. School administrators, early childhood, elementary and secondary teachers, parents, and parent advocates will find that this conference provides a range of opportunities to share and learn new family engagement knowledge and to network with others. Family engagement practitioners, parent centers, and family advocacy organizations will find like-minded professionals and quality resources to enhance their family engagement practices and school-family partnership efforts.

IEL's Helen Malone Publishes Education Week Article on Looking Overseas for School Improvement Ideas

Headshot: Helen Malone10/1/2013 - Helen Malone, IEL's Director of Institutional Advancement, recently published an article in Education Week entitled "Looking for School Improvement Ideas Beyond Our Borders." The article urges us to examine education paradigms beyond our borders for ideas to strengthen our domestic education system. She puts forth why we should look globally for inspiration and ideas, suggests what lessons we might draw from other nations, and how we could apply international ideas inside the U.S. Malone also has a book available through Teachers College Press, Leading Educational Change: Global Issues, Challenges, and Lessons on Whole-System Reform. She is also a contributor to the Education Week blog series International Perspectives on Education Reform.

NCWD/Youth Releases New Report on Using Social Security Work Incentives to Promote Work-Based Learning

Report Cover: Use of Social Security Work Incentives to Promote Work-Based Learning in Youth Employment and Training Programs9/30/2013 - The IEL-led National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth just released a new report entitled Use of Social Security Work Incentives to Promote Work-Based Learning in Youth Employment and Training Programs. This report examines AmeriCorps as a model that includes an income exemption that allows youth with disabilities who are Social Security beneficiaries to participate in work-based learning experiences and receive a living allowance or stipend without it impacting their benefits. An overview is initially provided about the importance of work-based learning experiences, including service learning, particularly for youth with disabilities and the current state of policy and practice regarding the use of the AmeriCorps income exclusion. Recommendations are then provided for increasing the scope and utilization of the existing AmeriCorps exemption and for the expansion of similar incentives to other youth employment and training programs serving transition-age youth with disabilities such as those funded under the Workforce Investment Act.

PBS American Graduate Day Series Highlights Community Schools Model

American Graduate Day logo over red, white, and blue bars9/30/2013 - The second year of the PBS series American Graduate Day premiered Saturday, September 28. This year the IEL-championed community schools model was featured. IEL President Martin Blank participated and highlighted how community schools positively transform students, families, and entire communities. The ongoing series marks a long-term commitment to helping communities tackle the nation’s dropout crisis and preparing students for success with a high school diploma.

DC Advocacy Partners Accepting Applications for 2014 Class

Group shot of DC Advocacy Partners above program logo9/30/2013 - IEL's DC Advocacy Partners for its 2014 class. DC Advocacy Partners is a free leadership training program for self-advocates and family members of individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities in the District of Columbia. Through this program, community members gain leadership skills and techniques to help develop positive partnerships with elected officials, school personnel, and other community leaders. They become policy influencers, and interact with policy makers and policy implementers. Participants also engage in interactive learning experiences and gain valuable information about current issues, services, and policymaking and legislative processes at local and national levels. DC Advocacy Partners is accepting applications through November 18, 2013.

Download the DC Advocacy Partners brochure.

Harkin Releases Report on 'ADA Generation'

Head and shoulders photo of U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA)9/28/2013 - U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released a report entitled High Expectations: Transforming the American Workforce as the ADA Generation Comes of Age. The report focuses on the young men and women who have come of age since the Americans With Disabilities Act was enacted. The report also offers steps to improve the employment of these young Americans as they seek competitive employment. Chairman Harkin was the Senate author of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act.

“The enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 23 years ago, helped grant the promise of equality to Americans with disabilities. But today, more work remains to be done to knock down one of the last remaining barriers—the gap in workforce participation that exists for millions of young adults,” Harkin said. “A ripe opportunity exists for Congress, the federal government, and the business community to work hand-in-hand to make competitive, integrated employment the first choice for individuals with disabilities. The goals of equality of opportunity, full participation in American society, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency are the birthright of this young generation, and we must work together to ensure this promise is met.”

Read the HELP Committee's press release.

Secretary of Education and IEL Staff Share Stage to Celebrate 40 Years of Learning Under Section 504

IEL Associate Program Coordinator Dana Fink and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne DuncanU.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan engaged current and former students with disabilities on the impact that Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 has had on their lives. The event, featuring Secretary Duncan, included a student panel and IEL’s own Dana Fink, an assistant project coordinator working on the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth and DC Advocacy Partners.

The “Forty Years of Learning Under Section 504” celebration emphasized the importance of accommodations, specifically in education, and highlighted today’s leaders in the youth disability communities and individuals who worked to help pass the law as youth in the 1970s. Throughout the event, the U.S. Education Department highlighted its work in supporting the implementation of Section 504 over the years.

“When we set high expectations for young people with disabilities, more often than not, they achieve them. And if they’re not achieving them, maybe we need to look at why,” says Fink. “Maybe they don’t have the necessary accommodations, maybe they don’t have a mentor that can show them what’s possible. Maybe they haven’t had an opportunity to explore what they want to do for a living and so they’re bored with their studies.”

Section 504 is widely recognized as the first civil-rights statute for persons with disabilities. It prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in federally funded activities. Schools must afford students with disabilities with equal opportunities "to obtain the same result, to gain the same benefit, or to reach the same level of achievement" as students without disabilities.

Call for Applications: IEL's Center for Workforce Development Hiring for Two Positions

Right Turn: Empowering Youth, Transforming CommunitiesIEL's Center for Workforce Development (CWD) is hiring for two new staff positions: the Right Turn Program Manager and the Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP) Program Coordinator.

The Right Turn Program Manager is responsible for helping design and implement the Right Turn Program, a career-focused transition initiative funded by a multi-year grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Through the program, the organization will serve as an intermediary with local sites to help improve outcomes for youth offenders in high crime, high poverty areas based on IEL/CWD's research and experience. The Right Turn Program Manager will assume primary responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day implementation of the grant, including providing technical assistance to sites; lead all research, data collection and evaluation, and reporting; and, conducting monthly calls and annual meetings. 

RAMP(TM): Ready to Achieve Mentoring ProgramThe RAMP Program Coordinator is responsible for working with the RAMP Program Director to help design and implement the RAMP Program a high-tech, career-focused mentoring program for youth involved with or at risk of becoming involved with the juvenile justice system. The RAMP Program Coordinator will assume primary responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day implementation of the program; deliver technical assistance to sites; complete reports and research collection; and plan and conduct monthly calls and annual meetings.

To see the full job descriptions and to apply, please visit the Right Turn Program Manager and Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP) Program Coordinator pages.

Applications are due September 23, 2013.  Please submit a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to Jason Farr, or fax: (202) 872-4050.

The Institute for Educational Leadership is an equal opportunity employer.

Save the Date! Employers: What Can We Do? Join the Conversation for Change on September 9 -11, 2013

ODEP - Office of Disability Employment PolicyHelp shape federal strategies to assist employers in creating a diverse workforce that includes people with disabilities

Employers and other interested stakeholders are invited to participate in an online Employer Dialogue being sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). The dialogue will be centered around the main question, "What services do you need to facilitate the hiring, retention and advancement of people with disabilities?"

Employers, human resource and diversity professionals, and all others with expertise and insight into disability employment issues are encouraged to participate in the Employer Dialogue by submitting ideas and comments and/or voting on others' ideas and comments. Submissions will be accepted 24 hours a day, using an online crowdsourcing tool. Together, these contributions will help inform ODEP's work going forward.

The Employer Dialogue is being facilitated through ODEP's ePolicyWorks initiative and will be moderated by ODEP's Employer Policy team. To register and participate, visit

Join the Right Turn: Career-Focused Transition for Court-Involved Youth

Right Turn - Empowering Youth, Transforming CommunitiesAre you looking for a way to improve your work with court-involved youth through better connections to career information, education, and their community? Then consider being a part of the Right Turn Career-Focused Transition Initiative (Right Turn), a high-poverty, high crime communities grant. Participating sites will utilize the Right Turn Career-Focused model to provide 100 youth per year: workforce development, education and training, case management, mentoring, community-wide violence reduction efforts, post program support and follow-up, and restorative justice. Sites will receive a research-based career development model, practical strategies, implementation materials, and technical assistance from experts in juvenile justice, mentoring, disability, and career development, as well as $290,000 per year to enhance their current work.

The Institute for Educational Leadership's Center for Workforce Development (IEL/CWD) was awarded an "Intermediary Organizations Serving Juvenile Offenders in High-Poverty, High Crime Communities" Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (SGA/DFA: PY-12-03; CFDA: 17.203) to implement the Right Turn Career-Focused Transition Initiative. Right Turn will adapt the Guideposts for Success for Transition Age Youth Involved in the Juvenile Corrections System, the three career development phases from the Individualized Learning Plan demonstration project, and lessons learned from the existing Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program for court-involved youth to provide opportunities to juvenile ex-offenders who are returning to and currently residing in high-poverty, high-crime communities. IEL/CWD will work with five local sub-grantees in at least two states. IEL/CWD is currently seeking applications from interested sites. Applications are due September 23, 2013 and can be downloaded at

New White House Rules Aim to Improve Employment of Veterans, Individuals with Disabilities Amongst Federal Contractors

US Secretary of Labor Thomas PerezThe White House announced two new rules that are an historic advancement for veterans and individuals with disabilities. By strengthening longstanding regulations under the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, the new rules will ensure that qualified workers have more meaningful opportunities to find, secure, and keep good jobs. The Section 503 rules will require contractors to establish a 7% utilization benchmark for employment of individuals with disabilities.

"In a competitive job market, employers need access to the best possible employees," said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "These rules make it easier for employers to tap into a large, diverse pool of qualified candidates."

"Strengthening these regulations is an important step toward reducing barriers to real opportunities for veterans and individuals with disabilities," said Patricia A. Shiu, director of the U.S. Department of Labor's (USDOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which enforces both laws.

After more than twenty years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the unemployment rate of people with disabilities remains high at 14.7 percent, nearly double the rate of people without disabilities at 7.4 percent. Further, people with disabilities have a workforce participation rate of only 20.3 percent.

The rules will be published shortly in the Federal Register and will take effect 180 days later.

Call for Applications for Youth Action Council on Transition – Apply by September 27th

graphic of children's silhouettes playing in colored boxesAre you a youth, age 12-25, who wants to develop leadership and advocacy skills and become a leader in your community who improves opportunities and services for all youth?

Are you a professional or organization who wants to increase youth voice, leadership, and youth-adult partnerships within your organization and community?

If so, apply for the Youth Action Council on Transition (Youth ACT)!  

The Youth Action Council on Transition (Youth ACT) is a national project to get more youth involved as leaders and partners with adults and youth-serving organizations to improve youth transition outcomes. NCWD/Youth will select four teams consisting of two emerging youth leaders (youth, ages 12-25, who have disabilities or are allies of the disability community), one adult partner, and a sponsoring organization to participate in this four-year initiative.  Each team will:

  • Attend the annual national training conference in Washington, D.C. (Dates to be announced)
  • Receive training in youth leadership and advocacy skills; youth-adult partnership strategies; youth transition policies; and issues affecting youth with disabilities.
  • Create a local plan for how the team will work together year-round.
  • Form and facilitate their own local youth peer group that will meet regularly to discuss youth transition issues and engage in leadership and advocacy activities.
  • Participate in monthly national conference calls and quarterly webinars or video conferences with all the Youth ACT teams.
  • Partner with NCWD/Youth to create national youth-driven materials and tools on youth leadership and transition topics and to develop a youth-driven national change agenda.

There's no cost to participate and each Youth ACT team will receive a small stipend of $3,000 to use for team expenses. Youth ACT is led by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth) at the Institute for Educational Leadership with funding from the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). 

The application deadline is September 27, 2013. Learn more about this opportunity and download the application online. Questions? Contact NCWD/Youth at  or ph. (202) 822-8405 Ext. 145. 

Apply by August 31 for FREE Youth Services Professional Development Demonstration

colorful binderAre you looking for a way to increase your staff's skills, gather new strategies, and improve your services to youth for free? 

If yes, consider applying for the Youth Service Professionals' Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities Professional Development Demonstration and Evaluation (YSP/KSA Demo).

Participating sites will receive: four free full-day trainings in the core competencies that youth service professionals need to work with all youth; content-rich materials and resources; and pre- and post-training technical assistance from experts in youth development, workforce development, and disability. 

With support from the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth) at the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) seeks to demonstrate the value of and further grow a professional development system for youth service professionals to improve program quality and service delivery for all youth, including youth with disabilities. Participation is free*, however each site's lead organization must be committed to professional development and evaluation, provide 25 – 30 trainees, engage two partner organizations, and meet other eligibility requirements (see Application). *Lead organizations will receive a small stipend to cover administrative costs. 

Applications are due August 31, 2013.  If your organization and partners would like further information about participating in the YSP/KSA Demo, visit the webpage or contact Patricia Gill (, 202.822.8405 x154) at the Institute for Educational Leadership.

The Institute for Educational Leadership Launches Two New Leadership Supports For School Practitioners

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) announces the creation of two new and innovative leadership supports: Weekly Parent-Teacher Twitter chats, podcasts, and online video vignettes of best practices in family and community engagement.  Together, these tools will support parents, families, teachers and school leaders as they work to expand and enhance family engagement efforts.

Wednesday night #PTchats

Every week beginning August 21 at 9 pm Eastern Time , Dr. Joe Mazza (@Joe_Mazza), Penn State Graduate School of Education Innovation Coach and Principal of Knapp Elementary School in Lansdale, PA, will lead Wednesday night Parent-Teacher Twitter chats (#PTchat).  #PTchat is a social media professional development conversation that enables parents, family engagement practitioners, teachers, students and others to develop new and innovative approaches to partnerships.IEL will provide new content for #PTchats as well as connect them to national networks of family and community engagement practitioners. Previously, these chats (accessible here) have focused on some of today's most challenging issues for family and community engagement. The weekly conversations will be archived for dissemination while reflections and insights are made available through weekly 10 minute #PTchat Radio Podcasts, created in cooperation with the BAM Radio Network. 

Past guests, in addition to parent and teacher participants, have included education experts and practitioners such as Michele Borba, Steve Constantino, Anne Henderson, Larry Ferlazzo, Jim Dillon, Angela Maiers and others.  This year's #PTchat moderators encompass a cross section of lenses within educational systems around the globe including students, teachers, principals, superintendents, school board members and members of national parent and teacher organizations.  Not on Twitter? Follow our conversation live at

Online Video Vignettes of Best Practices in Family and Community Engagement

IEL will create video vignettes that amplify best practices in innovative family and community engagement happening around the world. IEL will work to build a collection of strategies facilitated by schools that highlight one or more components of Dr. Joyce Epstein's 6 Types of Involvement for school, family, and community partnerships.

Innovation can mean low-tech or high-tech strategies, and we will be working to capture both types when considering video submissions. Schools with innovative practices to share, are encouraged to submit ideas using this form.

About the Institute for Educational Leadership

IEL's mission is to build the capacity of individuals, organizations, systems and communities to work together to prepare all children and youth for post-secondary education, careers, and citizenship. For a half-century, IEL has championed the need for leaders at all levels to shake off their institutional constraints and work across boundaries to address the needs of young people and their families.  IEL serves as a catalyst that helps policymakers, administrators, and practitioners at all levels bridge bureaucratic silos and undo gridlock to improve outcomes for all young people and their families. Visit the IEL website for more information:

Join IEL on Twitter: @IelConnects

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