Touching Base--Volume 4 Issue 1

April 2011 — Volume 4 Issue 1

"… to help launch this effort, Michelle will … urge … every American to join a new national campaign to support our military families."
–President Barack Obama, announcing the Presidential Study Directive, Strengthening Our Military Families, in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 24, 2011

New Program Provides College and Career Readiness

On March 11, 2011, Secretary Duncan joined Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey at North Middle School in Vine Grove, Ky., to help launch Project Partnership for All Students' Success (Project PASS). Project PASS is a new pilot program to help put middle and high school students on track to earn their high school diplomas. It offers elective Junior Leadership Corps (JLC) courses, after-school activities, and a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program. The aims of the program are to develop character and leadership so that students stay in school and improve their chances for successful lives. The program is a recently formed partnership of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) and the U.S. Army. To learn more about Project PASS visit

U.S. Department of Education Provides Guidance on Public School Attendance Policies for Children of Military Families

As part of the Obama administration's efforts to support military families, the U.S. Department of Education has provided information to superintendents regarding public school attendance policies for children of military-connected families. This release of information reflects Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's commitment to respond to the unique educational challenges facing the children of military families, especially those related to military deployments. Examples of best and promising practices and policies that address the needs of military families while maintaining high standards and upholding established attendance policies are available in Military-Connected Students and Public School Attendance Policies, a publication of the Military Child Education Coalition. In his letter to superintendents, the secretary encouraged districts to review this information and consider putting a well-designed policy in place to address absences related to a parent's deployment to combat zones. Secretary Duncan's communication is one of almost 50 commitments made by federal agencies responding to the president's directive to establish a coordinated and comprehensive federal approach to supporting military families. To read the secretary's letter visit

Education Secretary Arne Duncan Will Make Educational Opportunities for Military Families a Priority as Part of a Presidential Initiative

As part of the Obama administration's initiative to support military families, the U.S. Department of Education will focus on providing educational opportunities for children of military families, particularly during parental deployments and student transitions between schools. Responding to the report, Strengthening Our Military Families: Meeting America's Commitment, released Jan. 24, Secretary Duncan met with other agency heads to find better ways to provide military families with the support they deserve. This report highlights military families' contributions as national and community resources and identifies opportunities to leverage their skills and experience. The report also identifies four strategic priorities that address the primary challenges facing our military families:

  1. Enhance the overall well-being and psychological health of the military family.
  2. Ensure excellence in military children's education and their development.
  3. Develop career and educational opportunities for military spouses.
  4. Increase child-care availability and quality within the armed forces.

The U.S. Department of Education will make supporting military families one of its supplemental priorities for its discretionary grant programs. This priority, when applied, will for the first time ever favor grant applications that meet the needs of military-connected students. The Department has also made the financial aid process, including access to aid, more tailored to military families and more sensitive to the financial fluctuations of Guard and Reserve personnel. Also, the Department is seeking new ways to collect and report data pertaining to the performance of military-connected children. This overall effort aims to assist military families in sharing their concerns and opinions, their unique challenges, and their input on the future direction of related federal programs and policies. To read the White House Report, Strengthening Our Military Families: Meeting America's Commitment, visit

Secretary Arne Duncan Participates in the Investment in America Forum at the Pentagon

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan provided remarks on the state of education in America and the effect of quality education on American competitiveness at the Nov. 10, 2010, Investment in America Forum, Education Initiative: We're Better Than This. The forum, which included an open discussion with the secretary, was co-hosted by the Honorable John M. McHugh, secretary of the Army; Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army chief of staff; Frances R. Hesselbein, president and chief executive officer of the Leader to Leader Institute; and Jonathan Spector, chief executive officer of The Conference Board. The purpose of the forum was to increase national awareness about the crisis in American education and motivate all sectors to take action. Go to for more information.

Assistant Deputy Secretary Jim Shelton Delivers Remarks at the Army Sergeants Major Academy

James H. Shelton III, assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement at the Department of Education, spoke to students, staff and faculty of the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA) on Feb. 8, 2011, about the Department's efforts to improve education in the United States. The USASMA's mission is to develop agile and adaptive noncommissioned officers and enlisted soldiers through professional military education opportunities that meet the challenges of full spectrum operations in an era of persistent conflict. The Academy, located in Fort Bliss, Texas, is acknowledged by military and civilian organizations as the premier noncommissioned officer education institution in the world. For more information, please visit

U.S. Department of Education Staff Participate in the National Guard Youth Foundation Champions Gala

To help celebrate the growing success of the Youth Challenge Program, Department of Education staff from the Office of Innovation and Improvement attended the National Guard Youth Foundation's Sixth Annual Challenge Champions Gala on March 1 in Washington, D.C. The program's mission is to intervene in and reclaim the lives of 16- to18-year-old high school dropouts, producing program graduates with the values, life skills, education, and self-discipline necessary to succeed as responsible and productive citizens. Go to to learn more about the evening's events.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Is on YouTube

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, conducted his third Ask the Chairman: A Virtual Town Hall on Feb.10, 2011. For the month of February, questions were submitted covering a wide range of topics, including current international events and readiness issues that affect the military. Visit to see and hear what the chairman had to say in response.

Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) FY 2011 Grant Program Announced

Over the past three years, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) has awarded $97 million in grant funds to military-connected school districts nationwide. This year DoDEA expects to award approximately $30 million. The first phase of the fiscal year 2011 DoDEA Grant Program was the Request for Consideration (RFC). While the purpose of the funding has not changed, the eligibility criteria, selection process, and funding formula have. The changes have expanded the opportunity to a larger number of LEAs and emphasize funding those LEAs that demonstrate the greatest need to enhance student achievement, expand learning opportunities, and ease the challenges military dependent students face. While the RFC application process ended Feb. 24, 2011, the application and other information have been archived at

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Begins National Math, Science Education Program

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District finalized a blanket purchase agreement (BPA) with Managing Your Information (MYI) Consulting of Chester, Pa., to host educational outreach events under the Corps' National Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Awareness Program. The program's goal is to stimulate interest and academic achievement in science, engineering and math among underrepresented kindergarten through high school students. STEM learning events include one-on-one mentoring with Corps engineers and scientists, guided explorations of Corps projects, such as dam and other environmental restoration efforts, and presentations on Corps career options for students, parents and teachers. MYI is an independent small business that reaches out to the community through information technology and engineering services. It focuses on the areas of microelectronics, automation and controls, and the government sector. The BPA, which functions as a charge card, will simplify the government purchasing process by allowing approved agencies to order and pay for supplies and services from approved vendors several times a year.

U.S. Department of Education Launches Web Page for Veterans and Military Families

As part of the Department's ongoing outreach efforts to military families, a Web page on the Department's website was launched to:

  • Provide information on scholarships and grants to veterans and members of the Armed Forces and their families;
  • Offer veterans and military spouses information intended to help them secure a job;
  • Report legislative changes that affect the military and their families;
  • Give information about collaborative efforts of DoD and ED to assist veterans, military personnel and their families in advancing their educational opportunities; and
  • Supply information about quality education for military dependent children.

The Web page includes links to postsecondary education benefits, the Troops-To-Teachers Program, the Veteran's Upward Bound Program, assistance for disabled veterans, grant and contract applications, external links, and news and publications. Visit

Scholarship Offered for Military Children

The Ketia 4 Kidz Foundation has announced the Adrian & Corena Swanier Scholarship competition for the 2011–12 academic year. The scholarship was established in 2010 to recognize the contributions of and provide educational assistance to military children. The program will award five $1,000 scholarships for use towards four-year degrees, or vocational or technical certificates. The Ketia 4 Kidz Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization created to motivate children of active duty, deployed, and severely injured military personnel to achieve their goals through excellence in academics, arts, and sports-related programs. The organization focuses on school-age children located on worldwide military installations. The scholarship is funded by a generous grant from the Armed Services Mutual Benefit Association (ASMBA) STAR Foundation, a voluntary association of persons dedicated to improving the quality of life for all military personnel, veterans, and their families. The funding for the foundation is provided by a yearly grant from ASMBA and by financial support from other nonprofit organizations and individuals, including the military community and the general public. To learn more about the scholarship, visit

State Department Announces Foreign Language Scholarships

The Office of Citizen Exchanges of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) announces an open competition for the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y).The NSLI-Y provides overseas foreign language instruction for American high school students and recent graduates interested in learning less-commonly studied foreign languages. Scholarships are offered to study seven languages: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Korean, Persian, Russian and Turkish. Applications for 2012–13 programs (for programs in summer 2012 and continuing through academic year 2012–13, fall 2012 and spring 2013) will be available in fall 2011. For more information, visit

Contacts:Carrie Jasper, writer and editor; Charles Boyer, special advisor for military families; Cynthia Hearn Dorfman, advisor; Kathy Facon, Linda Cuffey, Rachel Breslin, Heather Foster, Eric Waldo, Kirsten Webb, contributors.
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Note: This document contains information about and from public and private entities and organizations for the reader's information. Inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any entity or organization or the products or services offered or views expressed. This publication also contains hyperlinks and URLs created and maintained by outside organizations. They are provided for the reader's convenience; however, the Department is not responsible for the accuracy of this information.

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Last Modified: 04/06/2011