LIGHTS ON AFTERSCHOOL
Lights On Afterschool
While the CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, the $30.75 billion Education Stabilization Fund authorized by the legislation is still in the early stages of the implementation process led by the US Department of Education. Four grant programs were created through the CARES Act under the umbrella of the Education Stabilization Fund: the Education Stabilization Fund Discretionary Grants; Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund; Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund; and Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.
This week the Department of Education set up a website for the Fund and announced the application process for the $3 billion Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund. Under the law, the Department has thirty days from March 27, 2020, to publish an application for both the Governors Fund and the $13.5 billion Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. Once a state education agency or Governor’s Office has submitted an application, the Department has thirty days to deny or approve the application. The funds need to be spent by September 2021.
Hopefully states and school districts will begin to see funds from both of these relief programs by May or June. As a reminder, allowable uses for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund include anything already in ESSA (which includes 21st CCLC), IDEA, Perkins-CTE, and the McKinney Vento Homeless Youth Act, as well as the following activities outlined in the CARES Act:
For the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, the law gives governors wide discretion for grants to local districts that the State Education Agency deems most impacted by COVID-19 to continue educational support and ongoing district operations. Estimated amounts for both of the Funds for each state are as follows, and 90 percent of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund amount for each state must be granted to local school districts following the Title I Part A formula:
State-by-State Education Stabilization Fund Amounts, by Type
Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (in millions)
Governors’ Emergency Education Relief Fund (in millions)
Total (including Higher Ed Funds as well)
District of Columbia
To access these funds in support of students and families, local school and community based afterschool programs will need to make the case to Governors and school district leadership that out–of-school programs are playing a critical role now, this summer, and this fall, to help students academically, socially, and emotionally.
Afterschool and summer programs have long provided supplemental education to help close academic and opportunity gaps among students most in need, and the funding from both the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund can be utilized at the school and community level to support students this spring, summer and into the new school year.
Over the past several weeks as the pandemic has shuttered schools and programs, afterschool programs have been continuing to offer support for a wide range of students and families, including support for the full day learning and enrichment activities for the school-age children of essential workers. Unfortunately, learning gaps between demographic groups and special populations are exacerbated by time out of school, as shown by the increased academic achievement gaps during summer learning. And, in the current virtual learning environment these gaps are expected to become more extreme.
A survey of the afterschool field by the Afterschool Alliance in late March, showed that 2 in 3 respondents reported that they are at risk of losing staff due to funding loss associated with COVID-19, and approximately 3 in 10 said that they are at risk of closing. Professional afterschool staff that have been supporting students’ academic and social and emotional gains for years are being forced to find other work as programs shut down. Additionally, academic content that was not delivered due to school closures can best be supplemented by afterschool and summer programs with a demonstrated expertise in how to keep students engaged in learning and supported socially and emotionally. Students, including those who need the most support will need teachers and program leaders who have the ability to teach academic content while engaging students through their interests and specialized needs.. Returning to learning, when done well, should feel like a reward to students.
If the state’s education system and future workforce is to rebound quickly from learning loss as a result of school closures, using federal and state supports such as the Education Stabilization Fund included in the CARES Act will be essential. These funds will be critical to maintain staff to keep afterschool and summer programs operational in order to better serve additional students.
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