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Marc Morial
Marc Morial

Hoyer, Cardin, Van Hollen, and Brown Announce Nearly $10 Million in American Rescue Plan Funding to Support Bowie State’s Public Health IT Workforce Program

WASHINGTON (Oct. 4, 2021)—Today, Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) along with Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Congressman Anthony Brown (MD-04), announced $9,899,758 in American Rescue Plan funding for Bowie State University to improve COVID-19 data collection and boost participation of underrepresented communities in the public health workforce through the Public Health Information and Technology (PHIT) Workforce program.

This funding comes from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the American Rescue Plan, and will help Bowie State University recruit and train participants, get paid internships and placement into public health agencies for those participants to enter and diversify the PHIT workforce. The PHIT Workforce program specifically sought to award funds for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions to hire public health workers from the hardest-hit and highest-risk communities the institutions serve.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the systemic health inequities in our country. We have seen large gaps in public health reporting especially around race and ethnicity data, bolstering the need for a public health workforce representative of its community,” the lawmakers said. “The best way to ensure that we are equipped for the next public health emergency is to increase skilled training and to diversify our future workforce to truly reflect those they are serving in the health care system.”

The lawmakers previously called on the state of Maryland to release complete COVID-19 demographic data on race and ethnicity, broken down by zip code, to ensure Maryland’s response targets towards those most heavily impacted.

The PHIT Workforce Program aims to train more than 4,000 individuals over a four-year period through an interdisciplinary approach in public health informatics and technology. Under the $80 million PHIT Workforce Program, ONC will award up to $75 million to cooperative agreement recipients and use the remaining $5 million to support the program’s overall administration. Award recipients will need to ensure their training, certificate, degree, and placement programs are sustainable to create a continuous pipeline of diverse public health information technology professionals.

 

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 Marc Morial, President and CEO National Urban League

To Be Equal: Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and Build Back Better Agenda Are the Essential Remedy for Decades of Tea Party and Trumpist Neglect

“These bills are about competitiveness versus complacency. They’re about opportunity versus decay. They’re about leading the world or continuing to let the world pass us by, which is literally happening. To support these investments is to create a rising America, America that’s moving. And to oppose these investments is to be complicit in America’s decline. To support these bills is to pursue a broader vision of our nation. And to oppose them is to accept a very cramped view of our future.”  —President Biden, October 5, 2021, Howell, Michigan.

 

Filibuster. Cloture. Reconciliation. The chatter surrounding President Biden’s landmark infrastructure investment and Build Back Better agenda seems endlessly focused on the legislative process, on political maneuvering, on faceless numbers taken out of context.

What we’re not hearing enough about: parents desperately searching for child care only to encounter year-long waiting lists and abrupt shutdowns due to understaffing.  School children forced to do their homework in parking lots because they have no internet access at home, and their school buildings are closed because they have no heat. Senior citizens who rely on Medicare skipping life-sustaining medications because they can’t afford their prescriptions. The millions of homes and businesses stranded without electricity because storms knocked out an inadequate and shoddily-maintained power grid.

Decades of neglect and failure to investment in America’s physical infrastructure and public institutions – a trend that accelerated when Tea Party members of Congress forced drastic cuts to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and intensified during the Trump era—have left us with dilapidated schools and crumbling bridges. Childhood asthma linked to poor air quality causes 13.8 million missed days of school annually.  A water main breaks every two minutes, losing enough treated water each day to fill over 9,000 swimming pools. We’re the only developed country in the world that doesn’t mandate paid family leave, and our failure to invest in child care costs us $57 billion a year.

Black Americans have borne the brunt of this neglect. Income inequality grew at a faster rate during the Trump era than during any of the last five administrations. The typical Black family holds about $12.50 in wealth for every $100 held by the typical white family. The Black unemployment rate remains nearly twice the rate for whites, and Black women are the least recovered from pandemic job losses.

The infrastructure investment and Build Back Better agenda—which largely incorporate the National Urban League’s Main Street Marshal Plan—represent a historic opportunity to transform our economy while enhancing racial equity.

There are five million fewer Americans working than in February 2020, and 2.7 million people have been out of work for six months or more, even as employers struggle to fill a record number of job openings. Taken together the infrastructure and budget reconciliation packages, could create 2 million jobs by mid-decade, according to Moody’s Analytics.  Over the course of the 10-year budgeting window, the combined legislation would provide fiscal support for more than 4 million jobs per year, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

In fact, Moody’s found that the educational provisions of the legislation—universal pre-K, two years of free community college, expanded Pell Grants and other education benefits—would boost the economy beyond the 10-year budget window “given greater educational attainment and higher labor force participation.”

The two initiatives would invest about $4.1 trillion in America’s physical and human infrastructure over the last 10 years—almost exactly what the Main Street Marshall Plan called for.  To put this number into perspective, the cost of the War on Terror since September 11, 2001, is about $8 trillion. The reckless 2017 Trump tax code revisions—which every Republican Senator and all but a dozen Republican House members eagerly supported—carried a $2.3 trillion price tag. What’s more, while the tax code revisions were enacted without a plan to pay for them, the infrastructure and Build Back Better plan would be funded by tax hikes on the wealthy, tougher tax enforcement and other revenue raisers.  A modest tax hike on the wealthiest 0.05% of Americans alone would bring in at least $3 trillion in revenue over 10 years.

The post-World War II Marshall Plan spurred the fastest period of growth in European history. Industrial and agricultural production skyrocketed. The poverty and starvation of the immediate postwar years disappeared, and Western Europe embarked upon an unprecedented two decades of growth that saw standards of living increase dramatically.  We have not only the opportunity but the moral obligation to replicate that success in 21st Century United States.

So when you hear politicians and talking heads opining about Senate and House procedures and legislative vehicles, know what’s really at stake: the future of you, your family, our community and the nation.  It’s time to Build Back Better.


 

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Marian Wright Edelman
ChildWatch: Still Reconstructing

In a recent conversation with Ford Foundation president Darren Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Eric Foner spoke about his book The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution. As Foner discussed the historic ways the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments shaped our nation, he noted how many of the pressing issues in America today are still fundamentally Reconstruction issues. Who is a citizen? Who has the right to vote? How should our nation deal with domestic terrorism? What does being a free American mean?

Many scholars saw the civil rights movement as a second Reconstruction era in the United States and a second try at making this country truly committed to liberty and justice for all. But just as the progress of the first Reconstruction was followed by decades of retrenchment and reversal, we face continued attempts to take us backwards: unjust racial profiling and killing of Black youths and adults by law enforcement officers responsible for protecting them; mass incarceration of people of color; new attacks on voting rights in the name of “election integrity”; and continuing willingness of some political leaders to ignore and condone white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and domestic terrorism. 

Rev. William J. Barber II, I, and many others believe we are in a third Reconstruction moment now, and the long-overdue racial reckoning last year was a leap forward along the way. As Frederick Douglass taught us, however, progress will always be met with new resistance: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” We must keep demanding our leaders ensure all children the freedom they deserve and the future they need.

This month, the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), led by Bryan Stevenson, opened its newly expanded Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration in Montgomery, Alabama. This extraordinary new facility sits on the former site of a cotton warehouse where enslaved people once worked and complements EJI’s National Memorial to Peace and Justice, a monument and sacred space honoring victims of racial terror. The Legacy Museum uses interactive exhibits, video and digital pieces, and the work of dozens of contemporary artists to take visitors on a profoundly moving journey from the transatlantic slave trade to contemporary America.

Visitors enter to the sensation of waves crashing over their heads and narrator Lupita Nyong’o describing the harrowing details of the transatlantic journey for the millions of African men, women, and children who were human cargo, two million of whom died during the crossing. In one exhibit visitors take a historical poll test intended to keep Black citizens from registering to vote with questions about the numbers of jellybeans in a jar and seeds in a watermelon. In others visitors hear first person narratives from enslaved people and the last words of lynching victims. In the Reflection Space visitors use touch screens to learn about 400 Black leaders pictured around the room. An entire museum wing is devoted to mass incarceration. The Legacy Museum seeks to serve as “an engine of education about the legacy of racial inequality and for the truth and reconciliation that leads to real solutions to contemporary problems.” This is the kind of push our nation still needs to move forward.

Bryan Stevenson said in an interview about the new museum’s opening: “I do think we’re at a moment where we’re debating whether we’re going to be honest about our history, about our past, and learn from it, reckon with it, and move forward—or we’re going to double down on silence and these false narratives. What I’m encouraged by is that we’ve had hundreds of thousands of people come to the site since we opened in 2018. And most of them say, ‘I didn’t know this.’ But not only have they come, they’ve left with a new understanding about what we have to do to make progress in this country. I don’t want to talk about slavery and lynching and segregation because I want to punish America. I want us to get to a better place. I want there to be real liberation.”

He added: “I believe there’s something better waiting for us. There’s something that feels more like freedom in this country. There’s something that feels more like equality, feels more like justice. But we can’t get there if we continue believing these false ideas about our greatness, about our failures—that we never made any mistakes, we never did anything wrong. And I actually hope that this moment illustrates the importance of this conversation that we’re trying to have about a time for truth telling.” Amen!


 


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