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ED Announces $300 Million Grant Competition to 'Rethink Education'

The United State Department of Education has launched a new grant program offering $307.5 million in funds for states to "create adaptable, innovative learning opportunities for K-12 and postsecondary learners in response to the COVID-19 national emergency." The Education Stabilization Fund Discretionary Grants, announced this week by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, will be funded through the recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

"If our ability to educate is limited to what takes place in any given physical building, we are never going to meet the unique needs of every student …. We must rethink education to better match the realities of the 21st century. This is the time for local education leaders to unleash their creativity and ingenuity, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they do to provide education freedom and economic opportunity for America's students," said Secretary DeVos, in a statement.

The grants will be distributed via two competitions: Rethink K-12 Education Models Grants (offering $180 million in total funds) and Reimagining Workforce Preparation Grants ($127.5 million).

The Rethink K-12 Education Models Grants are focused on access: coming up with innovative ways for students to access K-12 education, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. State educational agencies can apply for funds in one of three categories:

  • Microgrants for families, to support access to technology and educational services;
  • Statewide virtual learning and course access programs; and
  • "Field-initiated models for providing remote education not yet imagined."

On the higher ed side, the Reimagining Workforce Preparation Grants are designed to "expand short-term postsecondary programs and work-based learning programs in order to get Americans back to work and help small businesses return to being our country's engines for economic growth." More information on specific eligibility and selection criteria is forthcoming in a supplemental notice from ED.

"Current students and displaced workers will be navigating a very different job market and economy once America reopens," commented Secretary DeVos. "This competition is a tremendous opportunity for states to think creatively and strategically about what their workforce needs will be and how to support entrepreneurs and small business in order to get the economic engines in their states firing on all cylinders again."

Application packages for both grant competitions will be available within two weeks, with a 60-day application deadline. For more information, visit the ED site.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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