While we all hear “It's the time to act!” and “Don’t wait! There’s something you need to do!” acting on those reminders is a different story. But, you guessed it, the time is now for several federal funding opportunities which all have been extended for the last time. Let’s briefly look at the status of some significant ones and hopefully, if you have not already taken advantage of these funding opportunities, you will very, very soon.
Federal funding that most of us are familiar with is the COVID-19 string of funding with the last one under ARPA (America’s Response Plan Act), which is administrated by the U.S. Department of Education (DoE). In total, the COVID-19 group of funding provided over $126 billion for K-12 schools. This COVID-19 involved funding has meant $3,919 per public school student and $2,513 per non-private school student. The different funding opportunities are under a few main areas through the DoE - the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief and the Governors’ Emergency Education Relief, also referred to as the ESSER and GEER I, II or III. At this time, we are all in ‘phase III’, or ESSER III, under ARPA and EANS (The Emergency Assistance for Non-Public Schools). All of these funding opportunities were supposed to end by this past July and obligated but only a few states submitted their plans to the DoE. Because of this, the DOE has kept the submission window open to allow all of the states to present their plans. As of October 1st, all states have done this except Florida who may lose the over $7 billion allotted to them.
There is great news - all the other states have had their plans approved and the allocated funding is obligated so it’s safe. Each state has different dates for application submissions for their school districts, but most are still open. The EANS funding for the non-profit schools is also still open but each state has a different way of applying but again still open. There are states that have not yet gotten their applications submitted for ARPA, but the important thing is the funding is still there for the following criteria:
- Activities authorized under Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), Perkins Act, McKinney-Vento subtitle B, Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA)
- Activities to address unique needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, foster youth
- Develop and implement procedures and systems to improve the preparedness and response efforts of the LEA (Local Education Agency). This includes sanitation, purchase of supplies and sanitizing facilities, planning for closures, and educational services.
- Purchase educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students served by LEA, including low-income and IDEA
- Provide mental health services and supports
- Plan and implement summer learning and supplemental afterschool activities
- Provide principals and other school leaders with resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools
- Other activities necessary to maintain the operations and continuity of services in the LEA and continuing to employ existing staff of the LEA
Reviewing this list of criteria, Boxlight solutions address many of them including but not limited to STEM integration, education technology hardware and software, and professional development to support the solutions.
There is one funding opportunity that has a new life - the ARPA ECF or Emergency Connectivity Fund, which had over $7 billion allotted but in the first window, it was not all obligated. Another window for submissions has opened from September 28 to October 13, with just over $2 billion dollars available. This fund is administered by the USAC with oversight from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The ECF Program will reimburse schools and libraries so that they can purchase access capability such as laptops and broadband connections to help students and schools stay connected. The focus of the ECF program is to “close the homework gap” for all of our students.
There are specialized grants that have a few months left before grant cycles start again. Again, those educational funding opportunities are still open for schools that are looking to increase STEM teaching and learning, and augment professional development plans. There really are opportunities for grants and funding for schools that really want it. It just takes effort.
I realize that we are still living in challenging times but so do the funding agencies and this is precisely why almost all have kept their application windows open but there will be a close. We need to do what we can for our students so that the likelihood of their success is increased now and in the future. From this past almost two years, we have learned that the methods and products teachers use may change due to external factors but being prepared is key. Funding has provided a great opportunity to be better prepared for any situation. With the extension of federal funding opportunities and availability of specialized grants, I hope that we can take advantage of what can help give our teachers and youth.
Boxlight can answer your education funding questions and navigate the processes of application submission. For more information, go to boxlight.com.