Colorado public schools and universities can apply for financial help from a newly launched $32 million fund created by Gov. Jared Polis that’s intended to support learning institutions and students hit hardest by COVID-19.
“What this $32 million is designed to do is to go to the areas most impacted, because in many ways, COVID-19 accentuated the already existing achievement gap that falls along income, race and geography,” Polis said in an interview Wednesday.
The fund — called Response, Innovation & Student Equity (RISE) — draws from federal dollars in the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, included as part of the CARES Act.
School districts, charter schools, public universities, federally-recognized tribes and early childhood councils can apply for a grant to address learning challenges related to the economic, social, and health impacts of COVID-19 in the state.
Applicants can ask for between $250,000 and $4 million, depending on the proposal. The money will be available for use through Sept. 30, 2022.
Priority will be given to proposals that serve a rural community, serve schools or districts with priority improvement or turnaround plans, or address academic gaps between students based on income, race or ethnic group, status as an English learner, or disability status, the state said.
Applications will be reviewed by a committee of parents, educators, students, education leaders and community members appointed by the governor.
In May, Polis directed $510 million federal CARES Act dollars to be distributed to public K-12 schools in Colorado on a per-pupil basis and $450 million to the state’s colleges.
Distributing funding on a per-pupil basis, however, can mean the smaller, rural institutions that oftentimes serve underrepresented populations hit hardest by COVID-19 receive the least amount of financial assistance.
“In addition, schools and institutions of higher education are facing significant budget cuts and must innovate to respond to these cuts, while maintaining or improving quality, filling learning gaps, and preparing for partial or full remote schooling in the fall,” the state’s informational page on RISE notes.
For more information on how to apply, deadlines and criteria, visit colorado.gov/governor/risefund.