Federal Ed. Department Launches $3 Million District Grant Program For Disadvantaged Students

Contributing Writer

The U.S. Department of Education will award $3 million in grant money for a program that gives districts flexibility to combine federal, state and local funding streams to educate disadvantaged students.

Monday’s announcement of the new grant program could influence the type of instructional materials needed by any school districts that receive the grants.

Specifically, the department is inviting applications from local educational agencies for federal Well-Rounded Education through Student-Centered Funding Demonstration Grants for fiscal year 2020. 

This is the first time the U.S. Department of Education has offered funding to support a student-centered funding pilot, according to a department spokesperson.

“This is a great opportunity for local education leaders to rethink education funding in a way that puts students and their needs at the center of the decision-making process,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a statement. “This clear and quantifiable way to allocate education funding provides much-needed transparency, predictability, and autonomy at the local level, and helps to ensure the money follows students who need the most support.”

Authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act, the grants will give local education agencies leeway to combine federal, state and local funding streams into a single funding system, giving each school within an agency’s jurisdiction “considerable flexibility” to meet specific needs of students in individual schools, according to the announcement.

Compared with traditional funding frameworks, these grant allocations would provide substantially more funding–and more local control over how it is spent–for students from low-income families, English learners, and any other educationally disadvantaged student group identified by district recipients, according to the release.

The federal government will accept applications from local agencies through July 10.

Federal education officials anticipate awarding one to four grants in FY 2020, totaling $3 million in combined value. But the department said it may make additional awards in future years.

One of the conditions for receiving grant funding is releasing, no later than the end of the grant period, information on academic and other outcomes for students, which could be based on one or more indicators from statewide accountability systems.

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