U.S. Department of Education Announces New Grant Program

The U.S. Department of Education announced this week that it is establishing a new grant program to provide funding to school districts that have been penalized for implementing safety measures against COVID-19. It will be available to districts that have had funds withheld by the state, or that have been otherwise financially penalized, for establishing policies to prevent the virus’ spread that align with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, such as mask mandates.

The new grant program is called Project SAFE (Supporting America’s Families and Educators) and will draw its funding from within the Department of Education, namely Title IV, Part F, School Safety National Activities, of the Every Student Succeeds Act, according to a news release. Districts can apply for Project SAFE grants to compensate for funding withheld by state leaders, such as salary cuts for school board members or superintendents. The goal is to provide schools with adequate resources to establish strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“Every student across the country deserves the opportunity to return to school in-person safely this fall, and every family should be confident that their school is implementing polices that keep their children safe,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “We should be thanking districts for using proven strategies that will keep schools open and safe, not punishing them. We stand with the dedicated educators doing the right thing to protect their school communities, and this program will allow them to continue that critical work of keeping students safe.”

The news release states that, in the coming weeks, the Department of Education plans to send out a Notice Inviting Applications for eligible schools to apply for the Project SAFE grant. The news release says that the department “plans to make grant awards as expeditiously as possible and on an ongoing basis. The Department will make grant awards directly to local education agencies.”

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Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].