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Release Date


Treasury Department Releases Proposed Regulations on Opportunity Zones Designed to Incentivize Investment in American Communities

On October 19, the Treasury Department today issued proposed guidance related to the new Opportunity Zone tax incentive. The tax benefit, created by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, is designed to spur economic development and job creation by encouraging long-term investments in economically distressed communities nationwide.

"We want all Americans to experience the dynamic opportunities being generated by President Trump's economic policies. We anticipate that $100 billion in private capital will be dedicated towards creating jobs and economic development in Opportunity Zones," said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. "This incentive will foster economic revitalization and promote sustainable economic growth, which was a major goal of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act."

The proposed regulations released today clarify what gains qualify for deferral, which taxpayers and investments are eligible, the parameters for Opportunity Funds, and other guidance. The proposed regulations should provide investors and fund sponsors the information they need to confidently enter into new business arrangements in designated Opportunity Zones. The Treasury Department plans on issuing additional guidance before the end of the year.

The Opportunity Zone incentive offers capital gains tax relief to investors for new investment in designated areas. Investment benefits include deferral of tax on prior gains as late as 2026 if the amount of the gain is invested in an Opportunity Fund. The benefits also include tax forgiveness on gains on that investment if the investor holds the investment for at least 10 years. Opportunity Zones retain their designation for 10 years, but under the proposed regulations, investors can hold onto their investments in Qualified Opportunity Funds through 2047 without losing tax benefits.

Working with our partners in State and local governments, earlier this year, Treasury certified 8,761 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. Nearly 35 million Americans live in areas designated as Opportunity Zones. These communities present both the need for investment and significant investment opportunities.

Based on data from the 2011-2015 American Community Survey, the designated regions had an average poverty rate of over 32 percent, compared with the 17 percent national average.

Additionally, the median family income of the designated tracts were on average 37 percent below the area or state median, and had an unemployment rate of nearly 1.6 times higher than the national average.

View the guidance

Opportunity Zone Map:

Release Date


Education Commission of the States Releases "Approaches to State Workforce Development Systems"

An advisory form the Education Commission of the States

This year, about two-thirds of states considered legislation pertaining to the alignment of postsecondary education and workforce needs. To learn more about this growing focus on workforce development, the Commission visited four states that shared their approaches and policies. Through interviews and qualitative analyses, the Commission identified five common themes in workforce development systems (data utilization, coordination and collaboration, leadership, outcomes alignment and funding) to date, and we detail them - with state examples - in this new report.

Release Date


Career and Technical Education: Data Quality Institute Scheduled for February 12 - 13, 2019

The 2019 Data Quality Institute (DQI) will be held on February 12-13, 2019, in Washington, DC. Hosted by the Division of Academic and Technical Education, part of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, the DQI provides state career and technical education leaders an opportunity to share information and strategies, and to tackle common challenges in using data to improve student and program outcomes.

The conference organizers are finalizing the theme for the upcoming meeting and will update the website at with more information soon.

Release Date


Department of Education Announces Winners of the "Reimagining the Higher Education System Ecosystem Challenge"

A recent advisory from the Department of Education:

We are excited to announce the winners of the Reimagining the Higher Education Ecosystem Challenge. Through this challenge, we called upon educators, students, policymakers, industry leaders, technology developers, and the public to develop bold ideas to reimagine what the higher education ecosystem will look like in 2030 and concrete actions that we can take today to move us in that direction. These bold ideas would ensure all learners, regardless of background, could acquire the skills they need to find meaningful work and live fulfilling, economically stable lives. The concrete actions would be pilots or partnerships that could be implemented immediately and would make transformative impact on the way we work and learn.

We focused on three opportunity areas that we consider ripe for innovation: (1) curating lifelong learning pathways that support learners in obtaining rewarding work; (2) creating a marketplace for learning that enables students to effectively track and share the skills they acquire; and (3) leveraging emerging technology to improve individual learning.

Announcement link:

Communication toolkit link (talking points):

The 10 winning projects are:

  • Apoll01 (pronounced "Apollo One"), a "user-centric management platform" that curates personalized work and education experiences based on websites students visit.
  • Competency Catalyst, an effort to establish competency credentials that instructors can assign to elements of their courses and that students can carry with them as evidence of specific skills they obtained in pursuit of a degree.
  • EdRec: Next Gen by Design, a "permanent education record" that travels with students across "institutions, applications and platforms."
  • FutureFit AI, an interface akin to Google Maps that allows users to visualize their career trajectory, acquired skills and professional opportunities.
  • FlexchainEdu, a student-owned skills map that would be universally recognized among employers.
  • IT for Everyone, Google's plan to expand the reach of its certificate program on the Coursera platform, and to ensure at least a job placement and promotion rate of at least 50 percent among enrolled students.
  • JetBlue Inspire! The company proposes to widely share its model for offering degrees to employers. More than 1,000 of the airline company's employees have participated in the JetBlue Scholars program, and more than 100 have earned a four-year degree by taking courses from JetBlue's alternative credit partners including StraighterLine and, as well as courses offered by Thomas Edison State University. By January 2020, the company hopes to develop more internal courses and open the program to prospective employees, improving their chances of getting hired.
  • Modern Campus, which offers getaway opportunities for online students to meet, interact and learn in an unfamiliar face-to-face environment.
  • PCQX from Paul Quinn College, a growing suite of certificate and credential programs offering new skills to adult workers. This project grew out of a realization, according to the proposal, that in many cases MOOCs and other sources of alternative credentials "do not originate with minority-serving institutions (MSIs) or primarily serve under-resourced students." Once the institution develops credential opportunities of its own, it plans to expand its definition of "alumni" to include anyone who pays to join the institution's alumni association and passes through a credentialing process that tests data and digital literacy.
  • Southern New Hampshire University's STEMagination, "an intelligent system for learners to find sources and paths for learning," helping students connect their self-motivated learning experiences to credentials that demonstrate their progress.

Release Date


Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program: Social Security Administration Publishes Sixty-Day PRA Notice on Reporting Revision

The Social Security Administration has published the sixty-day PRA notice for The Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program.

SSA's Ticket to Work (TTW) Program transitions Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients toward independence by allowing them to receive Social Security payments while maintaining employment under the auspices of the program. SSA uses service providers, called Employment Networks (ENs), to supervise participant progress through the stages of TTW Program participation, such as job searches and interviews; progress reviews; and changes in ticket status. ENs can be private for-profit and nonprofit organizations, as well as state vocational rehabilitation agencies (VRs). SSA and the ENs utilize the TTW program manager to operate the TTW Program and exchange information about participants.

For example, the ENs use the program manager to provide updates on tasks such as selecting a payment system, or requesting payments for helping the beneficiary achieve certain work goals. Since the ENs are not PRA-exempt, the multiple information collections within the TTW program manager require OMB approval. Most of the categories of information are necessary for SSA to: (1) comply with the Ticket to Work legislation; and (2) provide proper oversight of the program. SSA collects this information through several modalities, including forms, electronic exchanges, and written documentation. The respondents are the ENs or state VRs, SSDI beneficiaries, and blind or disabled SSI recipients working under the auspices of the TTW Program.

SSA characterizes this as a "revision of an OMB-approved information collection." Comment will be due on December 22 (sixty-days after official publication). The notice includes contacts for obtaining the collection and submitting comments.


Updated: October 24, 2018