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Remote Learning Grant for Colorado Charter Schools

The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) was approved for a waiver and amendment of its 2015 SEA Charter School Program grant (CSP, Award U282A150018) by the United States Department of Education – Office of Elementary and Secondary Education that is allowing a one-time set aside of available funds for this sub-grant opportunity.

The purpose of this wavier and amendment is to allow CDE to adapt the state CSP program in a way that will help Colorado charter schools respond to new educational demands that have arisen from a national and state emergency. By supporting schools with building and implementing new remote learning models, charter schools will be better equipped to sustain high quality learning opportunities, grow leadership capacity, and inform an evolving understanding of quality learning in a time of emergency.

As approved by the Federal office, the remote learning subgrants would be used to assist charter schools in transitioning from remote learning back to in-person instruction this fall or as soon as practicable and safe to do so based on the guidance of State and local health officials.

CSP - Remote Learning Grant for Colorado Charter Schools Details:

10.20.2020 - Remote learning grant updates:

  1. Decision on pre-award costs: Per Federal instructions received by CDE, charter schools will be allowed to include pre-award costs that were incurred within 90 days of the date a grant award is signed by CDE. This likely means that the 90 day window will be between August 22nd and November 20th.
  2. Guidance on lotteries: During a training call on the grant last week, a school asked if they could update their school policies to specify that they will now use a lottery for any grades in which the demand for seats exceeds the number of seats available. The Schools of Choice unit advised the school that if they update their lotter policy to meet the federal definition prior to submission of signed assurances, they would be deemed eligible for the grant. SOC wanted to make sure all schools were aware of this guidance.
  3. Alert regarding a new signature requirement on the program assurances form: On 10/20, CDE learned that there was a mistake on the program assurances form for the Remote Learning Grant. On the signature page of the assurances form, a signature from the charter school’s fiscal manager was requested. That was a mistake and the signature that is needed is from the authorizer’s fiscal manager. The reason this signature is needed instead is because the authorizer's fiscal managers are required to sign off on federal grants. Both the Printable Application and the Program Assurance Form have been updated to reflect the new signature. 
    • Please know that if we receive the wrong signed assurances form, it will not disqualify you from the grant. CDE will work with the charter school to confirm receipt of the correct signature prior to a release of grant funds.

Application contents that you will need: 

Instructions for Submitting an Application:

  1. Visit the Smartsheet Application Form site
  2. Complete all application questions that are included on the form
  3. Attach the following files to your submission (a file upload section is included on the form)
    1. Signed Program Assurances Form
      • Note: only the signed assurances may be submitted after the application deadline (via email to paga_p@cde.state.co.us) if signatures are not complete by time of submission.
    2. Complete Budget Workbook in original excel format
  4. To be considered for the grant, all submissions must be submitted through SmartSheets by Friday, October 30, 2020, at 11:59 PM MDT 
  5. It is highly recommended to check the box at the end of the submission to have your final response emailed to you as a confirmation 

Given the finite source of funds, CDE will rank order applicants based on the percentage of the school’s total enrollment eligible for Free and Reduced meals in the 2019-20 school year as measured by the Colorado Department of Education Pupil Membership report.

Grant and Application Training

Interested schools are encouraged to attend a training on the grant application. We currently have two live, web-based trainings scheduled. The training content will be the same, so it is not necessary to attend both. We also plan to provide a recording of both trainings once they are complete.

Eligibility

An existing charter school may be eligible if it demonstrates that the school:

  1. Meets the "federal definition" of a charter school,
  2. Demonstrates financial need,
  3. Has never provided remote learning prior to the COVID-19 emergency, 
  4. Is not a part of an active CSP grant or sub-grant, and
  5. Satisfactorily completed any previous CSP grant or sub-grant if it was a previous recipient of such a grant.

A more detailed list around eligibility can be found on pages 3-4 in the Printable Application.

Use of Funds

To allow both for an efficient administration of the grant program and ensure meaningful investment of resources related to COVID-19 impact, grant funds can only be used for the following expenses/activities:  

  • Expenses for the purchase of hardware and software deemed necessary to provide remote, blended, and/or socially distanced learning for all students during the COVID-19 crisis;
  • Expenses for the purchase of FERPA-compliant technology licenses through the 2020-21 school year deemed necessary to provide remote, blended, and/or socially distanced learning for all students during the COVID-19 crisis;
  • Purchase of student emotional support materials (curriculum, subscriptions, software, etc.) that respond to needs resulting from the impact of COVID-19;
  • Expenses for professional development or consultation services associated with implementing remote, blended, and/or socially distanced learning for all students during the COVID-19 crisis;
  • Expenses to expand education in the areas of counseling, social work, and/or family engagement services for students and staff with new or greater needs resulting from the impact of COVID-19 to ensure all students are able to stay actively engaged in remote learning activities during the COVID-19 crisis;
  • Expenses to conduct family engagement services to connect with students who have been hard to stay in contact with as a result of remote learning implemented in response to COVID-19; and/or
  • Offsetting of one-time costs related to COVID-19 for implementing strategies to safely deliver services to students with disabilities and other special populations during distance learning.

Although funding is anticipated to help offset remote learning costs and strengthen capacity for high quality remote learning, schools must also demonstrate a plan for transitioning from remote learning back to in-person instruction this fall or as soon as practicable and safe to do so based on the guidance of State and local health officials.

Total Funding Amount 

The total amount of funding available for the CSP Remote Learning Grants for Colorado Charter Schools project is approximately $2 million.

The subgrant awards will have a maximum award of either:

  • $35,000 for single-site charter schools with a student population under 699 students in 2019-20;
  • $60,000 for single-site charter schools with a population over 700 students in 2019-20; or
  • Tiered funding for charter schools that are part of an organization that oversees multiple campuses, regardless of the size of student enrollment for any individual campus, as outlined in the Printable Application (PDF).

Federal Funds: CFDA #84.282A – Title V, Part B, Subpart 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Timeline and Review Process

The applicant’s submitted cover sheet, assurances, narrative, and budget will be reviewed by CDE staff to ensure they contain all required components and are in alignment to the requirements of the grant.

Note: This is a non-competitive process. Applicants that submit all required application elements and meet the eligibility requirements as outlined above, will be approved for funding. Approval will be based on a successful departmental review consistent with the checklist provided in Appendix A, a determination of allowable expenses, the school’s rank order for funding, and the availability of funds at that point in the rank order.

The applicant will be notified no later than Friday, November 20, 2020 on the status of their application.