Colorado Governor Polis Announces $44 Million for Education in Federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Funds
DENVER – Governor Polis today announced $44 million in Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funding for school districts, schools, and institutions of higher education, and other education-related entities to address the impact of COVID-19. The majority of these funds will be utilized for grants to school districts, public schools, and public institutions of higher education serving high-needs students in order to help prevent and address the “COVID slide” and support innovation and equity. In addition, the state will provide significant funding to increase capacity for Colorado Empowered Learning, the state-supported supplemental online program, in order to help school districts and schools access virtual content and professional development for educators in blended instructional models.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created significant challenges across our state, but it has also created new opportunities to support innovation, increase equity, and improve our ability to offer high-quality blended instructional models across our state,” said Governor Jared Polis. “We are grateful to our federal partners for providing flexible funding that we can utilize to support Colorado students from preschool to higher education, increase capacity in rural areas, and invest in innovative approaches to improving student learning that can be replicated and scaled for years to come.”
The State of Colorado will also provide funding to ensure all Colorado students with financial need receive direct assistance and to support educator recruitment and retention in high-needs areas. In the coming weeks, the State will release more information about how to secure funding.
More information about the State of Colorado’s plans for GEER funding can be found below:
Over $33 million in grants to school districts, public schools, public institutions of higher education, and other education-related entities to support equity and innovation to address the COVID-19 crisis. The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated existing achievement gaps for students who already face challenges, including low-income students, minority students, English-language learners, students with disabilities, and students experiencing homelessness or in foster care. With the majority of the GEER funding, the State will accept applications for a P-20 innovation fund to address the learning challenges related to the economic, social, and health impacts of COVID-19 in a manner that creates lasting innovations and improved student learning across both pre-K-12 and higher education. These grants will focus on student-centered learning, rethinking the student experience, strengthening and formalizing linkages between higher education, pK-12, and industry, and catalyzing innovations that can drive long-term impact and be sustainable after the life of the grant. The State of Colorado is pursuing research funding that will allow projects to be evaluated and to inform future efforts to address learning gaps for high-needs students. Priority will be given to proposals that serve children and families who have been disproportionately impacted from the health or economic effects of the virus, or rural areas, or to serve schools or school districts in priority improvement or turnaround. You can find more information about this fund here.
$5-6 million for dramatically increasing capacity for Colorado Empowered Learning. Governor Polis plans to work closely with the Colorado Department of Education to dramatically increase capacity for Colorado Empowered Learning, our state-supported supplemental online program that provides Colorado school districts, BOCES, and charter schools with access to fully-designed online courses, LMS platform options, professional development, and technical assistance for implementing blended and online learning models. These funds will allow school districts, BOCES, and charter schools greater access to this already developed and adaptive virtual content at low or no cost, and will help to build the capacity of our teachers by expanding access to professional development and coaching, whether in person or virtual, in blended instructional models.
$1 million for ensuring that all Colorado students with financial need receive direct support from institutions of higher education. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) provided $144 million to Colorado’s public institutions of higher education, 50 percent of which needed to be utilized to provide direct support to students. However, some resident students with financial need were excluded from such aid. The Governor’s office plans to utilize a portion of GEER funds to help ensure all qualified students with financial need receive the support they need to weather this crisis.
$3 million for investing in educator recruitment and retention to provide stability for school districts. The Quality Teacher Recruitment program provides support to organizations to recruit, select, train, and retain highly qualified teachers in areas that have had historic difficulty in attracting and keeping quality teachers. This program is even more important in an economic downturn, when school districts need support and stability in this area. Ensuring two years of funding for this program will help to support school districts that face significant challenges in the face of even further challenges with educator recruitment and retention this year.