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Rep. Chu, Sen. Booker Introduce DIPLOMA Act

March 5, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) today introduced the Developing Innovative Partnerships and Learning Opportunities that Motivate Achievement (DIPLOMA) Act, which would provide federal support for partnerships between public schools and community organizations designed to meet student’s holistic needs beyond the classroom, such as their housing, nutrition, safety, and health care needs. The DIPLOMA Act would help schools become community centers, offering a full suite of social, health, and continuing education services to improve the lives of students and their families.

In the last four decades the U.S. has plunged from first in the world in high school and college graduation rates to 21st and 14th  respectively. A driving force behind this fall is increasing drop-out rates, which is caused in part by students not always having their holistic needs met by their school and community. The DIPLOMA ACT aims to address those needs, creating a more comprehensive learning experience. A number of studies have shown that when these needs are met, students are more likely to succeed.

“As a former teacher, I know that a good education is the best path to future success,” said Rep. Chu. “But a child’s needs go beyond the classroom. For too many students, hunger, problems at home, disabilities, or other obstacles hold them back. That’s why I’m proud to be reintroducing this bill with Senator Booker to support community schools – schools that use partnerships to become full-service community centers for students and their families. Ensuring our students are as successful as possible means ensuring they have the services and support they need. Professionals, universities, non-profits and more have so much to offer students and parents alike, but often the resources are not there to bring them together. This bill not only encourages those partnerships, but provides the grant funding necessary to make them successful.”

“In order for our children to be successful academically, we need to ensure they are in environments where they are fully supported by their whole communities,” Booker said. “This legislation will enable schools to provide essential support services, such as nutrition programs, healthcare, and counseling to students. By turning schools into community hubs we can empower students and better prepare them for academic success and life after graduation.”

The DIPLOMA ACT would provide federal grants to states, which would award subgrants to local partnerships, in which a school works with a community partner. An eligible community partner can be any one of a number of local institutions, such as local governments, institutions of higher education, nonprofits, businesses, or foundations. The grants could be used for a number of services including, but not limited to:

  • Early childhood education, reading programs, child care, home visiting, and parental education
  • Tutoring, afterschool programs, and summer learning 
  • Services for students with disabilities
  • Health services including primary care, speech and hearing, nutrition, and mental health 
  • Leadership development and civic learning, job training, career counseling, and college preparation 
  • Parent and adult education 

The DIPLOMA Act is endorsed by the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL), the National Education Association (NEA), and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

“Currently, the significant demand across the country for community schools far outpaces the ability of local leaders to fund them with their own dollars,” said Dr. Johan Uvin, President of the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL). “The DIPLOMA Act is an innovative bill that would help grow community schools at the same time it would strengthen state-level support for school-community partnerships. This bill would mobilize local and state leaders to practice cross-sector collaboration through the development of a comprehensive child and youth strategy and encourage more places to implement the community school strategy as a vehicle for equity. Here at IEL, we are committed to helping expand community schools to any community-and particularly the most opportunity-constrained communities- that want to implement it to unite school, family and community for young people’s success. We are grateful to Representative Chu and Senator Booker for helping us to get there faster with this excellent bill.”