These posts are the opinions of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of A+ Colorado.

Learn about the Colorado RISE Education Fund: $32.7 million toward learning during COVID-19

Image via Christina Morillo, Pexels

Update: On Jan. 25, Colorado awarded the second round of the RISE grands, including $27 million in education grants to 19 programs aimed at helping students in communities hit hard by the pandemic, Gov. Jared Polis and state officials announced. Read the list of these grantees in this article by Chalkbeat Colorado. 

On Wednesday, September 9, Gov. Jared Polis announced the Colorado RISE (Response, Innovation, and Student Equity) Education Fund. Grants ranging from $250,000 and $4,000,000 will be awarded to applicants “to address the learning challenges related to the economic, social, and health impacts of COVID-19.”

As we highlighted in our Stay Sharp newsletter last week, the economic cost of the pandemic is estimated to be between $14-28 Trillion for the US according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The Brookings Institute reported that the “COVID slide” may affect math and reading comprehension for years to come. Estimates already show one year of growth in these subjects may be lost for younger students.  The New York Times editorial board has dubbed this the “COVID generation,” as students may be academically affected for years to come.

Since March, teachers and administrators have been working extremely hard and innovating daily to reach and engage students against extreme challenges. They have been moving mountains to provide an education with restrictions they never would have (nor could have) imagined before.

With Gov. Polis’ announcement, the state of Colorado is stepping up in a tangible way to support these educators who are filling in the gaps for our state’s students.

Here’s what you need to know about the RISE grants: 

1. Federal funding | The fund is sponsored through federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Funds, “to address the learning challenges related to the economic, social, and health impacts of COVID-19.”

2. Incubator of ideas | Gov. Polis’ described RISE as an incubator of ideas that “advance student learning, especially among those who have suffered deeply the economic, social, and health effects of the crisis,” according to Chalkbeat Colorado.

Polis says in the grant announcement that “students who have already faced academic challenges, including low-income students, minority students, English learners, students with disabilities, students experiencing food or housing insecurity, or system-involved students such as those in foster care risk falling further behind or dropping out entirely in the absence of targeted support.” Additionally, “schools and institutions of higher education are facing significant budget cuts and must innovate to respond to these cuts, while maintaining or improving quality, filling learning gaps, and preparing for partial or full remote schooling in the fall.”

3. Who is eligible | Eligible applicants include school districts, charter schools (and institutes), higher education institutions and systems, federally-recognized Tribes, early childhood councils and “consortia of such entities.”

Nonprofits and community-based organizations, early childhood providers, local governments, and workforce partners/employers can partner with an eligible applicant.

4. Who will be given priority? | Priority will be given to those that serve a rural community, serve schools or districts with “priority improvement or turnaround plan types”, or “address significant academic gaps between students based on income, race or ethnic group, status as an English learner, or disability status.”

5. Deadlines | Applications are already open. Two award rounds are anticipated, with deadlines of October 17 and December 19, with fund use being available until September 2022.

More info, including award rubric and application is available via here.

Support | Gates Family Foundation has partnered with with the Governor’s Office and Gary Community Investments (GCI) to provide resources and design support to those interested in applying for the second deadline of December 19.

“RISE Planning and Design Support is intended to help applicants score high on the RISE Education Fund criteria by giving them more time to develop their initiatives, build capacity through small planning grants, and work with strategic design partners to strengthen their applications,” says Mary Seawall about the program. Deadline is Sept. 30 at 5 p.m.

How can A+ Colorado support you?

At A+ Colorado, we know how hard schools, education organizations, and leadership work to serve Colorado’s students. We’re optimistic that amazing innovation will come out of this financial opportunity.

Can any of A+’s research, data, or reports help your organization during this time? Explore our publications here.