With the recent release of the long-awaited Student Support and Academic Enrichment (also now as Title IV, Part A) allocations in Minnesota, districts need to make some decisions quickly on how the funds will be used in their district. These funds are part of a federal grant under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This is the first year that the funds are being received as an allocation in Minnesota, with the previous allocation being made through a competitive grant. The funds can be used to improve students’ academic achievement by increasing capacity to:
- Provide activities and programs that provide all students with a well-rounded education,
- Support activities that promote safe and healthy students, and/or
- Enhance technology to improve academic achievement and digital literacy of all students.
The amount of a district’s allocation can be found on the Minnesota Department of Education website at this link under the Title IV, Part Allocations at the bottom of the page.
These funds provide an amazing opportunity to consider new and creative approaches for meeting student needs. Given the federal requirements that funds need to supplement, and not supplant, current efforts the district is supporting, these funds allow districts to think creatively on how best students needs can be addressed in innovative ways.
I would encourage you to think about Full-Service Community Schools as a strategy the fits perfectly with the purpose of the Student Support and Academic Enrichment funds. Community Schools have been found to be an effective school improvement strategy as outlined in this brief by the Learning Policy Institute. Community schools have found to have gains in student learning, family engagement, school effectiveness and community vitality. They are a strategy that allow you to leverage community partnerships to provide more for students and families than a school can do alone. Partnering with community agencies provides a benefit for students, agencies and schools!
In addition to the funding provided here, there has been legislation introduced in both the Minnesota House and Senate, for an appropriation to support full-service community schools, meaning that districts that start to explore this option with the Title IV dollars now, may be in a good place to apply for grant funds later in the year if this bill is funded. A previous round of grants was awarded in 2016 and full-service community schools was a strategy championed by many candidates during the election campaign, including now-elected Governor Tim Walz.
The Strong Schools, Strong Communities Conference, being held March 14-15th in Bloomington, MN, is a great way to kick off building support for a community schools model in your school. Learn from national experts about the foundations of a community schools, principles for building strong partnerships and strategies for measuring outcomes. On March 13th, there is an optional site visit to see a community school in action and hear directly from partners about their work at the site.
How is your district planning on using Title IV, Part A funds to support students? I would love to hear about the work in your district!