Tuesday, February 26, 2013

$15 Million in Grants Aimed at Improving School Performance

Americorps has announced the availability of $15 million in grants for the nation’s most underperforming schools, this through a new program called Turnaround AmeriCorps.

According to Samantha Jo Warfield, acting press secretary of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the $15 million -- from both CNCS and the U.S. Department of Education -- will fund nonprofits, civic organizations and local government entities working directly in the schools and utilizing AmeriCorps members.  Grant applications are due on April 23; funding announcements are expected in July.

The NonProfitTimes reports Warfield as saying: “What’s really great about this program is AmeriCorps members will be providing direct services within schools.  It’s an innovative way of tackling some of the pressing challenges facing our communities.”

The Times continues:

Warfield said the number and dollar amount of the grants depend on the number of applicants. There are no target start dates for programs yet. Likely programs include helping students with reading and math, helping them navigate college entry and financial aid applications, raising the graduation rate of the schools and working to improve non-academic success factors such as discipline, attendance rates and school safety.

“The list (of projects) runs the gamut of services and a lot of that will speak to the organizations that seek to apply,” said Warfield.

School Turnaround AmeriCorps will be a new program to which AmeriCorps members can apply, much like FEMA Corps, formed last year. Warfield said her CNCS’s focus at the moment is on ensuring a robust pool of AmeriCorps applicants. “A successful AmeriCorps member is going to be someone really passionate about education at any end of the spectrum, whether ensuring our youngest students are prepared with solid reading skills or helping to build pathways to college for first generation college goers,” said Warfield. “Because it’s a broader scope, there’s going to be something for everyone.”

The program is set up for 650 AmeriCorps members per year for three years. The project’s goal will depend upon the grant applications, but will fit “in line with some of the larger education goals,” said Warfield. “It will seek to increase educational achievement and high school graduation rates and increase college readiness,” she said. “We’ll be looking at all of those factors. Impact and success is demonstrated through grantee-specific performance outcomes.”



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