Indiana schools officials believe $1,000 grants will help school children recover from learning disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Qualifying students can use the funds for tutoring or other academic programs in math and English/Language. Grants will begin Oct. 1.
Learning levels are stabilizing or recovering for many Indiana students in the wake of COVID-19 disruptions, according to a recent study commissioned by the Indiana Department of Education. But more targeted effort is needed to keep momentum going, Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner said last month.
The two-year tutoring program, dubbed Indiana Learns, allows a grant for $500 per qualifying student. That amount may be matched with up to $500 from the student’s school. All funding for the program comes from the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.
The program is operated on behalf of the Indiana Department of Education by Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit.
To qualify for the program, a student must legally reside in Indiana; be enrolled at a traditional public, charter or accredited nonpublic school; qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch; and have scored below proficiency in both math and English/language arts on ILEARN as a third- or fourth-grader in 2022.
To receive funding, families must create an account at IndianaLearns.org, where they will also find approved tutoring service providers by Oct. 1.
The funds can be used for either virtual or in-person learning enrichment activities such as private tutoring, small group tutoring or academic-focused camps held during school breaks.
School superintendents around the state praised Wednesday’s announcement of the program.
“In MSD of Decatur Township, we strongly believe that investing resources into increased instructional opportunities for students will equal greater academic achievement,” Matt Prusiecki, superintendent of MSD of Decatur Township said in a statement. “With our district matching grant funds, Decatur students will have the resources necessary in support of their continued learning as an extension to the school day.”
Aleesia Johnson, superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools, said, “As the superintendent of the state’s largest school district – and a former classroom teacher myself – I know that tutoring strengthens subject comprehension, boosts confidence, and builds important learning skills.” She added, “I’m especially proud that IPS was among the first of the school districts to partner with the IDOE to provide matching grants for students and families.
“At Muncie Community Schools, we are already seeing the benefits of additional resources going toward individual student needs through our City Connects program, and I expect this new Indiana Learns program will have a similar effect,” Lee Ann Kwiatkowski, MCS director of public education and CEO said in a statement.
This article originally appeared on The Center Square.