Proposal includes three initiatives that will offer quality academic options to help minimize learning gaps for students and schools across the state
OKLAHOMA CITY (July 17, 2020) — Gov. Kevin Stitt today announced $30 million from the GEER fund will go toward funding three new education initiatives - Learn Anywhere Oklahoma, Bridge the Gap Digital Wallet and Stay in School Funds.
The Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, is an extraordinarily flexible "emergency block grant" designed to enable governors to decide how best to meet the needs of students, schools (including charter schools and non-public schools), postsecondary institutions and other education-related organizations. The U.S. Department of Education provided a total of $360 million for Oklahoma’s public education systems to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, of which $39.9 million was designated into the GEER Fund.
“These programs will allow for students and families of diverse backgrounds to access the quality resources they need in order to continue their education journey amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gov. Stitt. “These are unprecedented times, but we can’t let our kids fall further behind academically. They are our priority, and we will do everything we can to ensure they have the tools they need to succeed in their academic endeavors.”
The $12 million initiative will allow schools to access high quality digital content, including Advanced Placement courses across grades K-12. Additionally, the funds will allow schools to provide access to online content with a teacher of record virtually. The program will equalize opportunities for all Oklahoma kids, no matter where they live or their socio-economic status.
“During these unprecedented times, while we must take the necessary precautions to slow the spread of the virus and keep our vulnerable populations safe, we must also prioritize our students' learning. Learn Anywhere OK accomplishes both goals,” said Gov. Stitt. “Additionally, should an outbreak occur, this content will allow learning to continue in a distance learning format."
This will be an offering through the Oklahoma Supplemental Online Course Program (OSOCP). Digital content will be purchased via the OSOCP will provide help desk support to schools in selecting the appropriate digital content for students. OSOCP will also provide professional development to schools with a focus on providing instruction to teachers related to best practices in distance learning instruction.
Digital content will be available soon at learnanywhereok.org.
This program will provide $1,500 grants to more than 5,000 low income Oklahoma families to be used to purchase curriculum content, tutoring services and/or technology.
“As our students face disruptions from COVID-19 and schools turn to distance learning, we must ensure all Oklahoma students have the supplies necessary to access virtual courses and curriculum, ” said Gov. Stitt. “By giving families these funds, we are empowering them to choose what materials are most necessary to make their children successful academically.”
In total, $8 million is proposed to go toward these grants.
“We are happy to see Governor Stitt provide grants to these families to assist with their students' learning during COVID-19,” said Joe Dorman, CEO for the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA). “These students need these types of resources to ensure they can be successful. It is crucial as a state we find ways to assist our students during this difficult time.”
Every Kid Counts Oklahoma (EKCO) will be awarding grants to families on a first come, first serve basis.
“Every Kid Counts Oklahoma is excited to partner with Governor Stitt to provide these education grants to our neediest families,” said Ryan Walters, CEO of EKCO. “It is imperative that all Oklahoma students have access to quality virtual learning experiences during these uncertain times, and we are glad to help provide them with this new resource to do just that.”
More information about the grants will be announced soon at everykidcountsok.org.
This initiative will help to stabilize all of Oklahoma’s education system and reduce Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) by providing temporary funds to students currently attending private schools whose continued attendance is threatened by the financial fallout of COVID-19.
“We have great private schools in Oklahoma that serve homeless children and children living in poverty,” said Gov. Stitt. “Assisting those families will be our first priority and greatest focus, followed closely by helping families who have suffered severe financial hardship from COVID-19’s impact on employment and job opportunities.”
The $10 million initiative will allot funds to low-income families who have suffered a COVID-19-related job loss or a demonstrated economic impact due to COVID-19-related factors. More than 1,500 Oklahoma families will be able to access $6,500 funds.
“These children are already living with great personal uncertainty and hardship,” said Gov. Stitt. “To force children from those families to uproot to entirely new schools, separated from their friends and educational support system, will only compound ACEs for many of them. The Stay in School Funds will provide greater stability to those children, and reduce the associated trauma they face from COVID-19.”
Oklahoma Private School Accrediting Commission (OPSAC) has been requested to oversee the distribution of emergency educational relief funding to these families. Families will apply and will complete an eligibility form.
Families can begin applying for the funds on August 1. More information about the program will be announced soon at opsac.org.
“The children who attend Positive Tomorrows are homeless, so they didn’t have extensive financial resources before COVID-19 and the pandemic certainly didn’t increase opportunity for their families. The governor’s decision to use federal funds to help these children continue attending our school is literally life changing and perhaps even life-saving, because we not only provide education but also a wide range of services, ranging from clothing to cleaning supplies to emotional support. With this program, Governor Stitt is making wise use of our tax dollars by investing it in our most precious resource: Oklahoma’s children.”
- Susan Agel, President/CEO of Positive Tomorrows
“For many families, Crossover Preparatory has been a literal answer to prayer. The young men served by this school do not have access to finances that will pay their entire tuition withouthelp, but many of the people who support our school are now struggling with their own financial challenges due to COVID-19. With the Stay in School Funds, Governor Stitt is filling the gap. He’s investing not just in education, but in changing lives and charting a better course for the future of North Tulsa.”
- Philip Abode, Crossover Prep Executive Director
“Cristo Rey OKC opens the door to a brighter future for children, which is why many of my families are so concerned about the financial stress caused by COVID-19. This program helps keeps that door of opportunity open, allowing our students to stay in our school and continue to get a quality education and career skills. We greatly appreciate Governor Stitt’s willingness to take a stand on behalf of Oklahoma children and their families.”
- Chip Carter, President of Cristo Rey OKC Catholic High School
Governor Stitt and Superintendent Hofmeister are working closely on assessing the PPE and sanitation needs for school districts across the state to help students, teachers, and staff return safely to the classroom.