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Our country’s systemic racism combined with inequities exacerbated by COVID-19 threaten a 15-year trend of improving educational advancements of low income and minority students. Unless we take bold action, we are on the precipice of creating a lost generation of students, without secure pathways to adult success, further increasing racial injustice and economic dislocation.

A key, immediate step is to expand AmeriCorps to enable all students to receive the supports they need when schools reopen.

We’ve learned that national disasters, when overlaid on existing racial inequities and economic challenges, have negative consequences on education that are long-term and far-reaching. After Hurricane Katrina, it took students in New Orleans nearly two years to recover from the learning disruption and negative consequences stretched on for a decade or more. We can now anticipate a similar “COVID-19” effect with three particularly worrisome impacts: Elementary students will have the largest academic losses; middle and high school students will be at an increased risk of falling off track to high school graduation; and high school juniors and seniors who lost essential college or postsecondary training transition supports will increase the ranks of out of school and unemployed youth. These effects will be further exacerbated for students of color and those from low income families.

Left unaddressed, these challenges will also weaken our communities. Research shows that elementary school achievement strongly affects long-term outcomes like labor market participation and health. Success in grades six to nine greatly influences the odds of adult success. Once young adults are out of school and out of work, the road back is long and uncertain, with significant negative lifetime consequences and wider social and economic costs that affect all of us.

Fortunately, there are high-impact, evidence-based responses for these challenges — all of which require additional person power to reach all students who need them. AmeriCorps programs can provide an efficient and cost-effective way to respond because they are already partnering with schools and communities across the country with established relationships, infrastructure and a track record of results. AmeriCorps provides a vehicle to turn the commitment, compassion and competencies of recent graduates into effective actions.

The most effective strategy to reduce learning loss in elementary grades is providing structured, one-on-one or through small group tutoring. Using trained AmeriCorps members to add capacity within existing literacy and math support programs can make large-scale tutoring support feasible and more cost-effective.

Providing students with ongoing, supportive relationships, and consistently monitoring their progress and adjusting accordingly are evidence-based practices that help middle grade and high school student succeed in school. Deploying AmeriCorps members to work alongside teachers to provide middle and high school students with integrated social, emotional and academic supports — in the role of Student Success Coaches — enables a personalized and thus more effective response, preventing students from falling off track.

College access programs can bring on AmeriCorps members to augment the efforts of high school counselors to help students transition to college or career. The evidence is clear: Comprehensive guidance, application and enrollment supports are much more effective than targeted efforts aimed at just one aspect of the transition from high school to college or training. Investing in AmeriCorps to support high school seniors in the transition to postsecondary schooling or training would bring significant long-term individual, community and economic benefits.

While the impact of the pandemic and current unrest in our country threaten learning and life outcomes for this generation of students, it is within our power (and it is in fact our national duty in a land where we are all created equal) to do something. Strategic expansion of AmeriCorps by tapping the powers of our nation’s most recent graduates and channeling their idealism, energy and skills is how we can rapidly and more equitably provide the additional capacity to enact what is needed — and what evidence says will work — to support our students through the impact of COVID-19 and continued racial injustice. This ensures we can all benefit from their fully realized talents and contributions in the future.

Robert Balfanz ( is the director of the Everyone Graduates Center and a research professor at the Center for Safe and Healthy Schools at Johns Hopkins University School of Education. He wrote this for the Baltimore Sun.


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Robert De Niro's lawyer says the actor's finances have been ruined by the coronavirus

Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower were together for 21 years. John Lamparski/WireImage

  • Robert De Niro's finances have been badly hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to his attorneys.
  • De Niro is battling his ex-wife Grace Hightower in court, and appeared via Skype at an emergency hearing after he cut her monthly credit card limit from $100,000 to $50,000.
  • According to the Daily Mail, De Niro's lawyer Caroline Krauss told the judge that he was forced to make this cut as his finances have been impacted so badly.
  • Krauss said that De Niro's restaurant and hotel chain, Nobu and The Greenwich Hotel, have made huge losses over the past few months, while his earnings from "The Irishman" have almost dried up.
  • Krauss said: "He is going to be lucky if he makes $7.5 million this year."
  • Hightower's attorney responded by saying that De Niro "has used the COVID pandemic, my words would be, to stick it to his wife financially," Page Six reported.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Robert De Niro's attorneys said that the actor's finances have taken a huge hit over the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

The actor is battling a divorce case against Grace Hightower, his ex-wife who he was with for 21 years, in Manhatten Supreme Court.

De Niro appeared via Skype at an emergency hearing, which was called after De Niro cut Hightower's American Express credit card limit from $100,000 to $50,000 a month.

According to the Daily Mail, Hightower's lawyer told the judge that she and her two children with De Niro, Harvey (8) and Elliot (21), had been banned from his New York compound, which is where De Niro has been staying during the pandemic.

However, De Niro's lawyer, Caroline Krauss, reportedly told the judge that De Niro was forced to make this cut to Hightower's credit card limit because his finances have been so badly affected by the pandemic.

Krauss told the judge that Nobu and The Greenwich Hotel, the restaurant chain and hotel that De Niro owns, have both been badly hit by the pandemic as they have been closed or partially closed for months with next to no income.

Krauss said that Nobu lost $3 million in April and a further $1.87 million in May, while De Niro was forced to borrow money from business partners to pay investors $500,000 on a capital call "because he doesn't have the cash," according to the New York Post.

"His accounts and business manager… says that the best case for Mr. De Niro, if everything starts to turn around this year… he is going to be lucky if he makes $7.5 million this year," Krauss told the judge, according to the Daily Mail.

Krauss said that the 2004 prenuptial agreement between De Niro and Hightower means that De Niro is only required to pay $1 million a year to Hightower as long as he is making at least $15 million a year. The terms, Krauss said, state that if his income falls, hers will proportionately fall too.

Robert De Niro starred in Martin Scorsese's Netflix film "The Irishman" last year. Netflix

Krauss said that the money De Niro has earned from last year's "The Irishman" has largely already been paid out, meaning he will only receive $2.5 million this year.

"These people, in spite of his robust earnings, have always spent more than he has earned so this 76-year-old robust man couldn't retire even if he wanted to because he can't afford to keep up with his lifestyle expense," Krauss told the judge, according to Page Six.

In response, Page Six reported that Hightower's lawyer, Kevin McDonough, told the judge: "Mr. De Niro has used the COVID pandemic, my words would be, to stick it to his wife financially.

"I'm not a believer that a man who has an admitted worth of $500 million and makes $30 million a year, all of a sudden in March he needs to cut down [spousal support] by 50 percent and ban her from the house."

McDonough said that "the idea that Mr. De Niro is tightening his belt is nonsense."

The judge issued a temporary ruling that the credit card limit is kept at $50,000 a month, but that De Niro pays Hightower a $75,000 lump sum so she can find a summer home for her and their two children, while De Niro stays in his compound with his other three children.

De Niro and Hightower were married in 1997 but filed for divorce two years later. However, their divorce never finalized, and they patched things up and renewed their vows in 2004. They officially separated in 2018.

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