March 17, 2017

March Government Relations Report: "Skinny Budget" Edition 

This morning the Trump administration released its so-called "Skinny Budget" for fiscal years 2017 and 2018. This abbreviated budget (hence the nickname "skinny") highlighted several administration initiatives and an extensive list of budget cuts to non-defense discretionary programs that are intended to pay for those initiatives.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the budget would cut non-defense discretionary funding for FY 2017 (which expires on September 30) by $15 billion and another $54 billion in FY 2018. All of these funds are shifted to defense.

The Trump budget increases only the Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Departments. Every other department is cut by an average of about 15 percent below current levels. The budget does not offer any guidance about where the FY 2017 cuts are to come from.

There is much that this budget does not tell us. Many cuts are, as yet, unspecified. The budget cuts funds for the Department of Education by about $9 billion or 13.5 percent below the level in the continuing resolution now in effect, but the document identifies $4.9 billion of cuts, so that is about $4 billion in cuts which the administration assumes but doesn't name.

Outcomes Rate Card Development Competition

March 5, 2017

Social Finance is offering free technical assistance to develop outcomes rate cards, a PFS contracting approach that tackles pressing challenges for people in need by defining outcomes and paying providers as those outcomes are achieved. 

This approach shifts government payments toward outcomes and allows for projects that can serve many people in need. 

Learn about the competition here.

The competition is open now and runs through April 10, 2017.
Social Finance will select up to three service recipients to receive technical assistance to develop an outcomes rate card. Service recipients and Social Finance will then use the rate card to run a procurement process to launch PFS projects focused on outcomes, selecting service providers to serve those in need at scale
We have an information webinar on Wednesday, March 15 at 3 p.m. ET. Sign up here.
Attached to this email are some overview slides from our first webinar. You can watch a recording of that webinar here.

About outcomes rate cards. An outcomes rate card is a procurement tool through which government defines a menu of outcomes it wishes to "purchase"-such as improving student achievement, completing a degree/training program, boosting earnings-and the amount it is willing to pay each time a given outcome is achieved. The rate card is used to procure and contract with service providers to standardize outcomes-based financing.
With one outcomes rate card, governments can launch multiple PFS projects, selecting multiple service providers to deliver against the same rate card and serving more of the most vulnerable citizens.
About Social Finance
As one of the first PFS intermediaries in the US, Social Finance has extensive experience designing and implementing PFS projects with our government, nonprofit, and funder partners. We believe outcomes rate cards, which have been used widely in the UK, represent a significant opportunity for governments promote the same values as PFS-supporting high-quality services, ensuring effective programs have access to capital to scale, measuring results, and paying for what works-while increasing both the speed of project development and the number of people served by outcomes-based projects.
Learn more about outcomes rate cards on our website. This project is supported by a grant from the Social Innovation Fund, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

COABE Membership Update March 2017

March 1, 2017

Stay up-to-date on what is happening with COABE by reading the March issue of the membership update. In this issue, you can register for the the COABE 2017 Conferencesign up for a FREE Professional Development Webinar, read the latest issue of the COABE Journal for free, learn more about the March VIP Vendor-GED Testing Service, read COABE’s Government Relation Report, find out more about the Research to Practice Initiative, and much more!


March 1, 2017

Join us for three days filled with informative workshops, engaging speakers and the opportunity to network with fellow educators. You’ll learn the latest teaching and testing strategies from our GED® experts. It’s an opportunity to take your GED instruction to the next level. The final agenda and descriptions will be available in March 2017. Save $50 with promo code COABE50 when you register by March 31. We can’t wait to see you at #GEDTS17!

Library of Congress
Application for Literacy Awards

March 1, 2017

Award-winning author and literacy advocate Stephen King helped the Library of Congress today launch its call for nominations for the 2017 Library of Congress Literacy Awards. The annual awards support organizations working to promote literacy, both in the United States and worldwide, and are made possible through the generosity of David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group.

No one person or group is going to move the needle alone,” King said in a video released through the Library’s social media channels. “But together, we can make a difference.  That is why I am joining the Library of Congress in supporting the thousands of organizations around the world that are working to promote literacy."

According to UNESCO, 757 million adults around the world cannot read or write a simple sentence, and 61 million elementary-age children are not in school.

These awards, which were created and initiated by Rubenstein, encourage the continuing development of innovative methods for promoting literacy and the wide dissemination of the most effective practices. They are intended to draw public attention to the importance of literacy and the need to promote literacy and encourage reading.

The Library of Congress Literacy Awards program is administered by the Library’s Center for the Book. The Librarian of Congress will make final selection of the prizewinners with recommendations from literacy experts on an advisory board.

Three prizes will be awarded in 2017:

  • The David M. Rubenstein Prize ($150,000) is awarded for an outstanding and measurable contribution to increasing literacy levels, to an organization based either inside or outside the United States that has demonstrated exceptional and sustained depth in its commitment to the advancement of literacy.Last year’s Rubenstein prizewinner: WETA Reading Rockets
  • The American Prize ($50,000) is awarded for a significant and measurable contribution to increasing literacy levels, or the national awareness of the importance of literacy, to an organization that is based in the United States. Last year’s American prizewinner: Parent-Child Home Program 
  • The International Prize ($50,000) is awarded for a significant and measurable contribution to increasing literacy levels, to an organization that is based outside the United States. Last year’s International prizewinner: Libraries Without Borders  

The application rules and a downloadable application form may be accessed at Applications must be received no later than midnight on March 31, 2017, Eastern Time.

Research Allies for Lifelong Learning

March 1, 2017

Research Allies for Lifelong Learning has just published the fourth (and last) report in its series of final-year evaluation reports on Adult Learner Leadership in Education Services (ALLIES). 

This latest report, Outstanding Leaders, reveals how being in the program, making a difference, and personal growth matters to new and experienced adult learner leaders.

Numerous leaders were designated as outstanding by program staff or by high self-ratings of leadership. The report investigates characteristics and attendance of new and experienced outstanding leaders, as well as contributions they made to their adult education programs. Topics in this report include ways in which outstanding leaders benefited adult education programs, workplaces, and communities; outstanding leaders' growth in personal attributes associated with leadership; and their assessed growth in critical thinking and writing approaches. 

Catalyzing CTE through PFS Competition

March 1, 2017

With funding from the US Department of Education, Social Finance and Jobs for the Future are holding a competition to select four sites across the country that want to develop PFS projects to expand or launch high-quality CTE programs to serve high-need, under-served youth. Selected sites will receive fully-funded feasibility studies to determine the viability of launching or expanding the proposed CTE program through Pay for Success financing. At the close of the feasibility studies, up to three applicants will receive additional technical assistance to structure and launch their PFS project. [Application deadline: March 17, 2017]

2017 COABE Board Elections

February 15, 2017


Click the "Vote" button below to cast your ballot. You can read the full bios for candidates here. Voting closes by 12:00pm CST on April 4, 2017, and the election results will be made public at the closing session of the COABE conference in Orlando, Florida on April 5, 2017. If you have any questions, or if you need assistance voting, please contact


February 9, 2017

Washington is trying to acclimate to the Trump Administration. The president is acting through a spate of executive orders. The Senate is slowly making its way through confirmation hearings and discussing how to consider the president's nominee for the Supreme Court. The foreign policy establishment is trying to weigh the impact of the president's remarks on our relationships with Mexico, Australia, and Israel, among other countries. Information about the budget and other administration policies has not been revealed. Like so much else with the new administration, including its views on education policy, details will be forthcoming. However, it is definitely not business as usual in the nation's capital!

Foundational Skills in the Service Sector

By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock

Across the United States, millions of men and women with limited reading, math, or digital problem-solving skills are holding down jobs across the service sector. Employed in retail shops and restaurants, hotels and hospitals, these workers not only help fuel the country’s economy — they keep daily life in America humming smoothly along. In the course of their jobs, these workers often need to read vital directions, follow safety protocols, calculate prices, supervise colleagues, and oversee budgets. All of these tasks are made dramatically more challenging for workers who don’t have strong literacy or numeracy skills. Many resort to creative work-arounds in an attempt to compensate for their lack of skills, but others struggle in silence. Their skill gaps carry heavy consequences for themselves, their co-workers, their employers, and our society as a whole. Read the full report.

Does Your Left Hand Know What Your Right Hand is Doing?

February 1, 2017

Tyton Partners is a partner with COABE

Opinion: Trump should make adult education a priority
Thousands of people are on waiting lists in Pennsylvania alone to get the training they need to make a decent living

By Don Block

Daniel Marsula/Post-Gazette

Daniel Marsula/Post-Gazette

Donald Trump was elected president with the votes of millions of disenfranchised and unemployed workers who feel that they are not sharing in the country’s economic prosperity. One method of bringing this group back into the mainstream of working America is as old as the American dream itself, and that is education.

While the value of higher education is widely understood, our nation has overlooked another part of the educational pipeline for far too long. I’m referring to adult basic education. Higher education is out of reach for the 12 percent of adult Americans who do not have a high school diploma. In Pennsylvania, there are more than 1 million people between the ages of 18 and 65, the prime working years, who lack this basic credential.

Due to changes in the workplace, it’s nearly impossible to find any kind of family-sustaining employment without a high school diploma. Job opportunities for the poorly educated are disappearing, as manufacturing becomes more technology-driven. A high school diploma and some postsecondary education are required to begin a conversation about a low-level position in today’s job market.

Rebuild Louisiana Adult Ed Schools

As you are likely aware, Louisiana has been hit hard by flooding. 5 adult schools were completely wiped out. COABE and LAPCAE would like to work together to help these schools. We will each (both LAPCAE and COABE) match up to $1,000 per school.

COABE, Commission on Adult Basic Education 

LAPCAE, Louisiana Association for Public, Community, & Adult Education 

Help spread the word!