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The Teacher Mentorship and Retention of Effective Teachers Grant was recently funded by the Minnesota Legislature for the next biennium. Application materials and a question and answer document have been posted to the PELSB grants page.
PELSB will host a virtual information session on Monday, September 13, at 4:30 p.m. Meeting details are below.
The timeline for application submissions is as follows: * September 3: Application materials and FAQ posted on PELSB’s website * September 13: Informational meeting * September 24: Intent to Submit is due (via email) * October 8: Applications are due * November: Awards notifications go out
Please note: * Funding will be allocated through a competitive process with review by an advisory group. * The state reserves the right to offer award amounts that differ from the applicant’s request.
The FCC recently announced that requests for $5.137 billion in funding to support 9.1 million connected devices and 5.4 million broadband connections were received during the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program’s initial filing window.
The window, which closed August 13, 2021, attracted applicants from all 50 states, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia – including schools and libraries in both rural and urban communities seeking funding for eligible equipment and services received or delivered between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022.
Additional information about the demand at the state level can be found here.
In view of outstanding demand and the recent spike in coronavirus cases, the FCC will open a second application filing window for schools and libraries to request funding from the roughly $2 billion in program funds remaining for connected devices and broadband connections for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons for the current 2021-22 school year.
The second window will open on September 28 and run until October 13. Eligible schools and libraries will be able to apply for financial support to purchase eligible equipment and services for students, school staff and library patrons with unmet needs.
Today, Governor Tim Walz announced an allocation of $106 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds, which includes funding to support Minnesota students, drive workforce development, and provide shelter to the most vulnerable Minnesotans before winter.
“President Biden’s American Rescue Plan delivers direct relief to Americans by providing resources to beat this pandemic and build a stronger economy for generations to come. That’s exactly what we’re prioritizing here in Minnesota,” said Governor Walz. “With this funding, we are helping students recover from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, driving workforce development in critical, good-paying fields, and providing safe shelter to the Minnesotans who need it most before our harsh winter months.”
“The COVID-19 virus continues to impact Minnesotans in every corner of the state,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “I am grateful for the federal American Rescue Plan, as Minnesotans need support following one of the most challenging periods in our history. We will continue to prioritize students, families, and Minnesotans experiencing homelessness as we work to recover and rebuild together.”
Highlights of the Governor’s $106 million allocation include $29 million to support students across the state, $35 million to increase the number of workers for critical industries, and $10 million to help homeless shelters respond to COVID-19 outbreaks and keep the most vulnerable Minnesotans safe.
Supporting Students: $29 million of the Governor’s allocation will provide a one-time investment to ensure that enrollment loss in Minnesota’s schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic does not negatively impact students. The per-pupil nature of the education funding formula means that —without additional support — last year’s drop in student enrollment would impact the amount of funding schools receive to operate their schools and support student learning. On average, one student in Minnesota public schools generates roughly $10,286 in general education revenue.
Driving Workforce Development: The Governor’s allocation of American Rescue Plan funds will boost Minnesota’s economy by increasing the number of qualified workers for high-need career areas, like health care, business, education, and industry and technology. The $35 million investment will provide tuition-free paths for students at a Tribal College or public institutions earning a credential or degree for jobs such as nursing, accounting, teaching, engineering, and firefighting. Eligibility for Minnesota Future Together Grants will be determined based on a student’s financial aid profile, and will be awarded starting in spring 2022. For more information, visit the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.
Sheltering the Most Vulnerable Before Winter: $10 million in American Rescue Plan funds will be managed through an interagency, interdisciplinary state homeless shelter emergency response team focused on helping shelters prepare and respond to COVID-19 outbreaks, particularly as the Delta variant increases case counts across the state. The funds will cover staffing and hazard pay to keep shelters operating with the needed personnel, room leasing costs to establish shelter capacity to deconcentrate shelters or create protective or isolation options for people experiencing homelessness, and other costs for supplies needed to sustain congregate shelter operations, including air filtration, personal protective equipment, or food for those residing in isolation space.
In total, President Biden’s plan provides $8.5 billion to Minnesota to support COVID-19 recovery efforts. This includes $2.132 billion to local governments, $2.833 billion to the state government, and $3.505 billion for existing federally-funded programs to help Minnesotans who were impacted the most during the pandemic. State leaders agreed to divide the state’s $2.833 billion into three categories: immediate COVID-19 response ($500 million, which includes Governor Walz’s allocation of $106 million announced today), long-term pandemic recovery ($1.150 billion, to be allocated during the 2022 state legislative session), and state revenue replacement ($1.183 billion).
Additional allocations of the $500 million reserved for immediate COVID-19 response will be announced in the coming months, as the state continues to navigate the challenges brought by the COVID-19 virus.
More information on the state’s recovery funds can be found here.
In view of outstanding demand and the recent spike in coronavirus cases, the FCC announced in a recent press release that they will open a second application filing window for schools and libraries to request funding from the roughly $2 billion in program funds remaining for connected devices and broadband connections for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons for the current 2021-22 school year.
The second application filing window will open on September 28 and run until October 13. Eligible schools and libraries will be able to apply for financial support for eligible equipment and services received or delivered between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, for students, school staff and library patrons with unmet needs.
The FCC also recently announced that requests for $5.137 billion in funding to support 9.1 million connected devices and 5.4 million broadband connections were received during the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program’s initial application filing window. The window, which closed August 13, 2021, attracted applicants from all 50 states, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia — including schools and libraries in both rural and urban communities seeking funding for eligible equipment and services received or delivered between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022.
Coming Soon: Service providers will have access to the ECF Portal through their OnePortal dashboard. They will be able to see any funding requests that they are associated with through the ECF Portal. Applicants and service providers who agree to invoice on behalf of applicants will also use the ECF Portal to submit requests for reimbursement (i.e., FCC Forms 472 or 474) for the ECF Program.
Need Help? Applicants and service providers can contact the Emergency Connectivity Fund Customer Support Center (CSC) with questions at (800) 234-9781 Monday – Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CDT or submit a case in the ECF Portal.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will it take to hear back about my application? Currently, we do not have an exact timeline on the application review. Once a decision has been made, you will receive an email with the final decision. Please keep in mind you may still receive an Information Request email regarding an application, if further information is needed. The FCC has set a goal to process 50% of all workable applications filed within 60 days after the close of the filing window. In general, ECF FCC Forms 471 are reviewed as they are received, but many other factors can cause some reviews to take longer than expected. Please be assured that we are working on the review of all applications as expeditiously as possible.
Will I have visibility in the ECF portal for the committed version of my application? Yes — applicants will be able to see the committed version of the funding requests submitted within an application.
I was unable to certify my application prior to the deadline on August 13, 2021, but I still want to get reimbursed — is there anything I can do? File and certify the ECF FCC Form 471 as soon as possible, if you have not already. You will receive a notification that your form was filed outside of the filing window.
ECF FCC Forms 471 certified after the close of the application filing window will be put in an out-of-window status and will not be reviewed by USAC. The applicant must request – and FCC must grant — a waiver of the application filing window deadline for USAC to be able to move these applications to an in-window filing status.
Note that USAC cannot approve an appeal or waiver request that asks for a waiver of the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program rules — you must file a request for waiver with the FCC.
You must file your waiver within 30 days of the date when USAC issued the out-of-window status notification. The FCC will consider electronic appeals as filed on a business day if they are received before 10:59 p.m. CDT. If you have questions or comments about using the Commission’s electronic comment filing system (ECFS), please contact the FCC directly at (202) 418-0193.
Will application and pricing information be made available through USAC’s Open Data platform? Yes. The Order provides that Emergency Connectivity Fund Program application and pricing data will be made available through Open Data within 160 days after the initial application filing window closes and we are making every effort to make this data available earlier, if possible.
If the service provider is invoicing on behalf of the applicant, does it need a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) for ECF? Yes.
Can applicants change the make or model of their equipment after they file their applications? Yes, applicants may make service and equipment substitutions after receiving a funding commitment.
Does an applicant using SPI invoicing need to register with SAM.gov? No, applicants who are only using service providers who will file invoices on their behalf for ECF reimbursement (SPI invoicing) are not required to register in SAM.gov.
In accordance with a proclamation issued by President Joe Biden, Governor Tim Walz has directed all United States and Minnesota flags to be flown at half-staff at all state and federal buildings in the state of Minnesota effective immediately until sunset on August 30, 2021, to remember, mourn, and honor the United States service members and other victims that were killed or wounded in a terrorist attack carried out in Kabul, Afghanistan.
“On Thursday, August 26, 2021, a terrorist attack was carried out in Kabul, Afghanistan. The United States service members that were killed or wounded, and other victims of the attack, deserve our honor, respect, and remembrance,” reads the proclamation issued by Governor Walz.
Students, parents and school professionals can use the See It, Say It, Send It app to send a tip to the BCA using their cell phones or other mobile devices. The BCA will notify local law enforcement and assist as needed with the response to criminal activity.
The BCA will work with the Minnesota School Safety Center, the Minnesota Department of Education, and the school to determine the appropriate response to tips that aren’t about criminal activity.
Visit the BCA website to access materials that schools can use to communicate about the BCA tip app with students, parents, and staff.
On Thursday, July 29, the House of Representatives passed an over $600 billion spending package to fund the federal government and related programs for the coming 2022 fiscal year (FY22) set to begin October 1, 2021. The spending measure includes seven of the required 12 spending bills that together compose the federal budget, including the Labor-HHS-ED bill which provides funding for the U.S. Department of Education (USED) and the programs that it oversees. The so-called “minibus” spending bill was passed largely by party lines within the chamber on a margin of 219-208 and would provide $102.8 billion for USED—a 41 percent increase over current funding levels for the Department. Over 200 separate amendments were considered during the debate of the bill, but none substantially changed the funding levels approved earlier this month by the House Appropriations Committee. If enacted, the measure would significantly increase funding for critically important programs such as Title I-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and a slew of other federal education programs.
Despite this new development, the Senate has not yet advanced any of the necessary FY22 spending measures. As the FY22 deadline of October 1 approaches, the likelihood of a stopgap measure to extend current funding levels for a short period of time (known as a continuing resolution) increases. NSBA’s advocacy team will continue to engage with lawmakers in both chambers as FY22 funding continues to take shape in order to ensure a robust investment in the K-12 community.
Senators Announce Deal on Narrow Infrastructure Package
On Wednesday, July 28, a bipartisan group of Senators announced that they had reached agreement on a Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF)—a legislative proposal that would invest nearly $550 billion in physical infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, waterways, and broadband connectivity. While the legislation does not include dedicated funding for school infrastructure projects it would, if enacted, invest approximately $65 billion in funding for broadband projects and $2.5 billion for the development and deployment of electric buses. The same day the agreement was unveiled, the Senate voted 67 to 32 to move forward with an affirmative procedural vote advancing the proposal for further consideration in the chamber.
Congressional Democrats, in the meantime, remain committed to a wider “two-track” legislative strategy whereby the BIF would be passed with bipartisan support while a much larger $3.5 trillion infrastructure proposal, containing many other Democratic priorities such as school infrastructure, childcare, and other priorities, would be passed via a separate budget reconciliation process. As these processes unfold in the coming weeks, NSBA’s advocacy team will remain engaged to ensure lawmakers appreciate the substantial infrastructure needs of the K-12 community.
House Holds Hearing on Nutrition Programs
Also on Wednesday, July 28, the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services held a hearing titled “Food for Thought: Examining Federal Nutrition Programs for Young Children and Infants.” Witnesses provided a range of recommendations for how to improve federal nutrition programs including updating technology, simplifying the paperwork burden for providers and parents, removing outdated requirements, expanding the number of meals that are allowed to be provided/reimbursed, and increasing the reimbursable rate among other suggestions. A recording of the hearing, including witness testimony, can be found here.
USED Releases Additional Funding for Students Experiencing Homelessness
On Wednesday, July 28, USED announced the disbursement of $600 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan for the Homeless Children and Youth Program (ARP-HCY). These funds follow USED’s approval of state applications for this funding in order to be used ahead of the coming school year to identify children and youth experiencing homelessness and providing support services to enable them to participate fully in schooling. In a statement, NSBA interim Executive Director and CEO Chip Slaven praised the $600 million as “vitally important funds,” noting that many of the approximately 1.3 million homeless students disappeared from classrooms—both online and in person—during the pandemic.
USED published one notice for a discretionary grant program within the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education:
“Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Program – Early-Phase Grants” – The EIR program is authorized under ESEA and promotes innovation to improve student achievement among high-need students. The early-phase grants are used to fund the “development, implementation, and feasibility testing” of a program, to determine if the program would be successful in improving student performance. The estimated available funds for this program total $180,000,000. The applications for the early-phase grants are due by August 27, 2021 and further information is available here.
Governor Tim Walz has ordered order all United States and Minnesota flags be flown at half-staff at all state buildings in Minnesota, from sunrise until sunset, on Monday, August 2, 2021, in honor and remembrance of Red Lake Nation Police Officer Ryan Bialke.
“Officer Bialke was an outstanding police officer who was respected and admired by his colleagues and the community he served, and served with dedication, honor, pride, and dignity,” reads the proclamation issued by Governor Walz. “The State of Minnesota recognizes Law Enforcement Officer Bialke for his dedicated service to, and sacrifice for, his fellow citizens with its deepest gratitude, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and the entire community of the Red Lake Nation.”
Officer Bialke provided six years of dedicated service to the Red Lake Nation as a Police Officer for the Red Lake Nation Police Department. Officer Bialke was killed in the line of duty on Tuesday, July 27, 2021. Officer Bialke is survived by his wife Hester, his four children, his family and relatives, and numerous friends.
Since the spring, negotiations between Congress and the Biden Administration regarding potential significant new investments in the nation’s infrastructure have been ongoing and quite fluid. For the most part, Republican lawmakers have only been willing to consider legislative proposals focused on “traditional” physical infrastructure. On the other side of the aisle, most Democrats favor a much more holistic approach, inclusive of investments in “human infrastructure” such as education, childcare, and workforce development. As a result, Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate have prioritized a “two-track” approach for passing both of these priorities by the end of the year. At present, lawmakers are nearing agreement on a bipartisan bill focused narrowly on physical infrastructure, supported by a bipartisan group of over 20 Senators. At the same time, Senate Democrats have recently announced a separate $3.5 trillion proposal that would purportedly include many other Democratic priorities noted above and which would be advanced solely using Democratic votes in both chambers via a separate budget “reconciliation” legislative process.
Specific details on what would be included in this larger package are still forthcoming. While that effort continues, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) moved forward on a separate track this this week by scheduling a procedural vote on the narrower, bipartisan infrastructure package yet to be introduced in the chamber. Although this vote ultimately failed, the effort helped illustrate that the sides are nearing an agreement on this narrower package. Both Democratic and Republican Senators emerged after the vote committed to finalizing and advancing this package sometime next week. As these infrastructure efforts continue, NSBA’s advocacy team will continue to impress upon lawmakers the significant broadband, school construction, and other needs of the K-12 community—especially within the wider package currently under consideration on a separate legislative track.
Legislation to Expand Homework Gap Funding Introduced
Senator Ed Markey and Rep. Grace Meng introduced legislation to extend funding to help close the Homework Gap. The Securing Universal Communications Connectivity to Ensure Students Succeed (SUCCESS)Act would provide $8 billion in annual funding between fiscal years 2022 and 2026 to the Emergency Connectivity Fund , a $7.17 billion program launched under the American Rescue Plan meant to help get students online. NSBA is one of several organizations supporting this legislation.
USED Approves More State ARP Plans
This past March, Congressional Democrats passed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) which provided $122 billion in pandemic relief funding for the K-12 community. After the ARP’s passage, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) distributed two-thirds of this funding to states via a prescribed formula. The Department held back the remainder of these new resources until states and territories submitted plans detailing how these funds would be spent to help learners cope with and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Once a state plan is approved by USED, the remainder of that state’s funding is released for use. On Thursday, July 22, USED announced that it had approved a new group of five state plans that meet the requirements of the American Rescue Plan (ARP). These states included Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, and New Mexico taking the number of approved state plans for this funding to 17 in total. More information regarding these plans, including those that are still pending review, can be found here.
Senate HELP Committee Advances Some Nominees, Not Others
On Wednesday, July 21, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing to vote on the nominations of several recent appointments made by President Biden, including several positions at USED. These nominees included Catherine Lhamon to be Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Elizabeth Brown to be General Counsel, and Roberto Rodriguez to be Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development at the Department. At the hearing, lawmakers advanced Brown and Rodriguez’s nominations out of the committee by voice vote—a key next step before the full Senate must vote on their nominations before they are formally approved.
Llhamon’s nomination along with one other, however, was not considered by the committee Wednesday, ostensibly due to scheduling conflicts. Llhamon previously led USED’s Office of Civil Rights under former President Obama, where she oversaw the development and implementation of a controversial regulatory update to Title IX—an effort that many Republicans on the HELP Committee, including Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) opposed. Inaction on Llhamon’s nomination this week is widely speculated to be related to this opposition as, without Republican support, her nomination will not be able to move forward. As for Rodriguez and Brown, their nominations will be considered by the full Senate sometime in the future although a formal vote has not yet been scheduled.
USED Releases Updated Title IX Guidance
On Tuesday, July 20, USED published a new Questions and Answers document providing additional guidance regarding the implementation of Title IX requirements meant to prevent discrimination on the basis of one’s gender. The guidance document clarifies key concepts and terminology to aid schools and institution’s as they implement current Title IX policies. These clarifications were seen as necessary as the Department undertakes a wider review of these policies, developed under the former Administration, which significantly changed the underlying regulatory framework updated by President Obama’s Administration.
USED Guidance on Improving Ventilation in Schools, Colleges, and Universities to Prevent COVID-19
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has compiled information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to outline ways that schools can use ESSER funds to improve ventilation/ air quality. This guidance addresses the use of portable carbon dioxide monitors, ways to improve airflow in school buildings, use of exhaust fans, and more.
USED published notices on two discretionary grant programs for the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education:
“American History and Civics Education National Activities Program” – The American History and Civics Education National Activities Program is authorized under ESEA and promotes evidence-based strategies to “encourage innovative American history, civics and government, and geography instruction, learning strategies, and professional development activities and programs” – focusing specifically on programs or activities students from low-income backgrounds and underserved populations. The estimated available funds for this program total $2,150,000. Applications are due by August 18, 2021, and further information is available here.
“American History and Civics Education – Presidential and Congressional Academies for American History and Civics” – The Academies created under this program provide workshops for educators focused on American history, civics, and government education and Academies for high school students, to enrich their understanding of these particular subjects. The estimated available funds for this program total $1,700,000. Applications are due by August 18, 2021, and further information is available here.