BOISE — Nearly 18,500 Idaho families are receiving grants to assist with their children’s education through Gov. Brad Little’s Strong Families, Strong Students (SFSS) program.
Funded with $50 million in federal coronavirus relief dollars, the SFSS grants will benefit nearly 24,600 Idaho students.
Families can use the grants to purchase computer hardware and software, internet connectivity, instructional materials, fees for specific courses, tutoring services, educational services and therapies, and license daycare during working hours. The purchases must be made through the ClassWallet online marketplace, which includes Idaho-based vendors.
Purchases can occur through June 30.
Families can also use the grant for reimbursement of eligible expenses if they purchased items and received services after the state shifted to remote learning last spring in response to the pandemic.
Families seeking reimbursement have until Jan. 8 to file their claim through ClassWallet. The State Board office extended the reimbursement deadline to give families more time to gather necessary receipts. To be an eligible expense for reimbursement, the purchase and receipt of services must have occurred between March 1 and Dec. 30.
“The response to this program was tremendous and the grants are making a big difference for a lot of struggling families,” State Board of Education President Debbie Critchfield said. “The SFSS funds were limited, and unfortunately we could not help all who applied. The Board is working on other initiatives to address this by using coronavirus relief funds to provide mobile devices to students through their schools to help close the “digital divide” between students who have access to technology for remote learning and those who do not.”
SFSS grants were awarded in two waves based on economic need and the time the completed application was submitted. The first wave included families with an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $50,000 or less in 2019; families with an AGI of $75,000 or less were in the second wave.
Here is a program breakdown including costs:
· Grants awarded: 18,465
· Students affected: 24,563
· Wave 1 families: 13,730 - $34,663,500 awarded
· Wave 2 families: 4,735 - $12,693,000 awarded
· Total amount awarded - $47,356,500
· Average AGI for those who received awards : $35,538
· Applications submitted: 39,908
· Applications completed: 26,512
SFSS contract administration costs:
· ClassWallet set up: $250,000
· FACTS application fees ($53 per application, includes processing, customer support, review and verification of documents)
· ClassWallet reimbursement fee ($15 per account set up)
· Total contract administration cost: $2,642,099
Total program costs: $49,998,599