Federal Funding

Accessing federal funds can be intimidating. Let this information guide you on your way to success!

Federal funding is distributed to high-need, high-poverty schools through several different programs. Each program has its own purpose and target group of students, which will determine how funds can be used. Federal funding is distributed in two ways: formula funding and competitive funding. Formula allocations are based on a per-student amount multiplied by the number of students who are eligible. To receive a competitive grant, eligible districts must respond to a Request for Proposal and describe in detail how they would use the grant funding.

A brief overview of key federal funding sources is provided below.

Every Student Succeeds Act

The Every Student Succeeds Act is a US law passed in December 2015 that governs the United States K–12 public education policy. The law replaced its predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act, and modified but did not eliminate provisions relating to the periodic standardized tests given to students.

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EdWeeks Perspective on ESSA

Title I Funding

Title I is the largest source of federal education funding, providing over $15 billion to schools with high numbers or percentages of children living in poverty. Schools may operate a targeted program, in which services are provided to children who are failing or at risk of failing. Schools operating a schoolwide program may provide services to all students.

Distribution: Funds are distributed according to percentages of students from low-income families.Schools with more than 75% of children in poverty must receive Title I funds in ranking order. School districts have the option to lower the poverty threshold to 50% in high schools and/or serve schools with less than 75% poverty by grade span in lieu of a strict ranking order.

How the funds can be used: Schools must use the funds to help students meet state academic standards by supplementing the existing program. Among other expenses, schools may provide extra teachers, intervention programs, supplemental materials, technology, professional development, or programs to incorporate a well-rounded education.

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Title II, Part A: Improving Teacher Quality

Title II funds are intended to improve teacher and leader quality and increase student success by providing evidence-based professional development activities that are sustained, intensive, collaborative, job-embedded, data-driven, and classroom-focused.

Distribution: These federal funds are granted to state educational agencies, which then distribute funds to school districts by formula. Most districts receive some Title II funding, with high-poverty and large districts receiving larger shares.

Use of Funds: Most districts use their Title II funds to provide professional development. In particular, funds are used to provide continuous, ongoing training that helps teachers understand academic subjects and learn strategies to help students meet high academic standards.

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Title III: Language Instruction for LEP and Immigrant Students

Title III provides over $730 million in funds intended to help schools supplement their language instruction programs so students can gain proficiency in speaking, listening to, reading, and writing English.

Distribution: States distribute funding to school districts based on the number of English learners (ELs) they serve. 80% of the Title III allocation is based on the number of EL students served and up to 15% is based on upon the number of immigrant students.

Use of Funds: Districts use Title III funds to provide supplemental services that improve the English language proficiency and academic achievement of ELs, as well as professional development to increase the knowledge and skills of teachers who serve ELs.

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Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

The federal law governing special education, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), provides funding for specially designed instruction for students with disabilities and the monitoring of their progress.

Distribution: Funding is distributed to school districts based on the number of students with individualized education plans.

Use of Funds: IDEA funds are used to provide early intervention, special education, and related services, including assistive technology. Up to 15% of IDEA funds can be used to implement a response to intervention (RTI) program, which provides supplemental instruction to assist students before they are given an individualized education plan.

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Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant

The Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant (SSAE) is a new Title IV program designed to improve access to a well-rounded education, improve school conditions for learning, and improve the use of technology.

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1003a School Improvement Funds

Under the new Every Student Succeeds Act, there is no longer a separate School Improvement Grant program. State Education Agencies will set aside 7% of their Title I funding in order to serve struggling schools. States often refer to this set-aside as “Section 1003(a)” funds.

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Title IV, Part B: 21st Century Community Learning Centers

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program provides before- or afterschool programs for K–12 children attending low-performing schools.

Distribution: School districts, private providers, and for-profit companies can apply for competitive grants that typically have an award length of 3 to 5 years. Grantees must serve public-school students in high-poverty schools.

How the funds can be used: 21st Century programs can provide a wide variety of enrichment activities including academic remediation, tutoring, music, art, technology, health, counseling, and recreation.

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Striving Readers

The Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant is focused on advancing literacy skills for students from birth through Grade 12, including children living in poverty, English learners and children with disabilities.

Distribution of funds: Eleven states have been awarded the latest round of Striving Readers funds: Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio and Oklahoma. States will hold grant competitions among local education agencies. Fifteen percent of the funds will target birth to age five, forty percent will go toward elementary, and forty percent will focus on Grades 6-12.

How the funds can be used: Grantees will use funds to provide high-quality comprehensive literacy instruction to disadvantaged youth through evidence-based interventions and professional development. States’ grant applications may include additional state-specific requirements

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Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant

The Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant (SSAE) is a new Title IV program designed to improve access to a well-rounded education, improve school conditions for learning, and improve the use of technology.

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