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Stronger Connections Grant (SCG)

Training Resources Now Available

The application for the Stronger Connections Grant is now open. An application information webinar was held on April 13, 2023.  Please refer to the presentation materials linked below for more information.

PowerPoint | Recorded Webinar

Overview of the Stronger Connections Grant

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), signed into law in June 2022, authorized $1 billion for states to pursue safer communities and healthier outcomes for students through activities that are allowable under Title IV, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Specifically, funds were awarded to State Educational Agencies (SEAs) to support safe and healthy students, by allocating 95% of the state’s allocation to Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) in a manner consistent with the SEA’s established competitive process and to design and implement a statewide support using 4% of the state’s allocation (1% is reserved at the SEA for administration of the competitive grants).  

The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) received a total allocation of $9,356,572 for a three-year performance period, ending on September 30, 2025. The amount reserved for state-level activities is $374,262.88 (4%) for the three-year period. The BSCA bill includes a requirement for SEAs to distribute funds on a competitive basis to “high-need” LEAs to implement allowable Title IV, Part A activities aligned with the Safe and Healthy Students program purpose.

"High-Need" LEA

In defining “high-need” local education agency (LEA), the United States Department of Education (ED) asked states to consider a focus on LEAs with high rates of poverty and with one or more of the following characteristics: 

  1. High student-to-mental health professional ratios; 
  2. High rates of chronic absenteeism, exclusionary discipline, referrals to the juvenile justice system, bullying/harassment, community and school violence, or substance abuse; or 
  3. Where students recently experienced a natural disaster or traumatic event. 

The definition of a “high-need” LEA in Colorado, developed in consultation with stakeholders and with public input, is based on quartile rankings for three criteria:

  1. the percentage of students eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch (FRL), 
  2. the student-to-mental health professional ratio, and 
  3. the rate of chronic absenteeism, for public school districts within the state. 

Points were assigned to each criteria using the ranges in the table below, and a total composite score was calculated for each LEA, including the Charter School Institute, the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind, and any BOCES that serve their own schools. LEAs with at least 10 total points are considered “high-need” LEAs and are automatically eligible to apply for the Stronger Connections Grant. “High-need” LEAs will be notified directly. 

Graph of public comment summary

Alternative Eligibility

An LEA that does not meet the definition of a "high-need" LEA is not automatically eligible to apply, however, based on CDE’s process, the LEA will still have the option to apply.

Under this alternative option, the LEA will be required to present their own data to demonstrate an identified need that aligns with the intent of the Stronger Connections Grant.

Allowable Use of Funds

An LEA that receives a grant under the program shall use the monies to fund activities that are reasonable, necessary, and allowable under section 4108 of the ESEA to provide students with safer and healthier learning environments.

Examples of allowable services or activities include:

  • Drug and violence prevention activities that are evidence-based
  • School-based mental health services
  • Comprehensive health education programs
  • Integrating health and safety practices into school or athletic programs
  • Nutritional education and physical education activities
  • Implementation of schoolwide positive behavioral interventions and supports
  • Bullying and harassment prevention
  • Activities that improve instructional practices for developing relationship-building skills
  • Prevention of teen and dating violence, stalking, domestic abuse, and sexual violence and harassment
  • Mentoring and school counseling
  • Establishing or improving school dropout and reentry programs
  • Suicide prevention
  • Crisis management and conflict resolution techniques
  • School-based violence prevention strategies
  • Reducing exclusionary disciplinary practices
  • Establishing partnerships within the community to provide resources and support for schools
  • Strengthening relationships between schools and communities
  • High-quality training for school personnel in effective practices related to any of the above

Note: Funds may not  be used for food, school construction, or to provide any person with a dangerous weapon or training in the use of a dangerous weapon.  A “dangerous weapon” as defined in section 930(g)(2) of title 18 of the United States Code is a weapon, device, instrument, material, or substance, animate or inanimate, that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury, except that such term does not include a pocketknife with a blade of less than 2 1/2 inches in length.



Application Opens


Application Information Webinar             


Intent to Apply Due (Recommended)

5/24/2023 by 11:59 pm

Application Due

6/7/2023 by 11:59 pm

Grant Award Letters

August 2023

Implementation Years

2023-2024 and 2024-2025 school years         

Expend Funds By


Tydings Period

Through 9/30/2026

Final Request for Funds



Contact Us

  • Send comments and questions via email to:

  • If you are interested in participating in the application review process for the Stronger Connections Grant, additional information is available here


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Updated May 31, 2023