State Launches Grant Program for Overcoming COVID-19 Learning Loss Using Federal Funds

The Maryland State Department of Education recently launched the Maryland Leads Initiative to support Local Education Agencies (LEAs) in utilizing federal funds to overcome the learning loss resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerate student learning to narrow opportunity and achievement gaps, and provide more targeted support for historically underserved students and their communities. 

As Maryland prepares for an influx of federal ESSER grants to help local jurisdictions address learning loss related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) is implementing the Maryland Leads program help streamline the federal funding and to help guide  local school systems’ strategies to combat the COVID gap.

MSDE describes the grant program on its website:

Maryland Leads is a new grant initiative designed to support Local Education Agencies (LEAs) in utilizing federal funds to overcome the learning loss resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerate student learning to narrow opportunity and achievement gaps, and provide more targeted support for historically underserved students and their communities. Maryland Leads also supports LEAs in addressing short and long-term challenges related to the current labor shortage and attends to the longstanding need to establish and strengthen teacher pipelines and development.

Program and ESSER grant details

Maryland’s 24 LEAs will access the state’s allotment of $133 million in ESSER funds through a single, non-competitive grant process. MSDE will provide LEAs with a series of information sessions and workshops beginning in February 2022 and continuing throughout the Spring to support LEAs through the grant submission process. Awards will be announced in Spring 2022 with implementation beginning in Summer 2022 and continuing through the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years.

The grant initiative is centered around seven high-leverage strategies that have been proven to be effective and transformative for schools and school systems:

  • Grow your own staff
  • Staff support and retention
  • The science of reading
  • High-quality school day tutoring
  • Remaining the use of time
  • Innovative school models
  • Transforming neighborhoods through excellent community standards
Each strategy contains a number of focus areas and best practices from the field that LEAs may choose to implement. The LEAs’ choices will depend on the individual needs of their students, schools, and communities. LEAs will have the opportunity to work with best-in-class partners to strategize and execute plans within and across all seven strategies. To participate in this grant opportunity, LEAs must choose at least two of the seven strategies. Choosing The Science of Reading or Grow Your Own Staff will allow LEAs to access a greater amount of grant funding.

 

Application timeline and tips for applicants

  • MSDE will host live information sessions which will be recorded and posted online for asynchronous viewing.

Tips for LEAs considering to apply

  • Identify the primary point of contact and key collaborators responsible for the LEA’s grant submission.
  • Build in opportunities to gather input from LEA stakeholder groups.
  • Utilize the collaboration sessions and office hours hosted by MSDE to pressure test ideas, gain new insights, and refine grant plans.
  • Attend one General Information Session and both the Strategy Information Sessions and Collaboration Sessions related to the strategies an LEA intends to include in their grant submission. (Required)
  • Include a copy of the LEA’s completed budget workbook in the grant submission. (Required)
  • Submit the online grant application. (Required)

Maryland Leads Partner Program

MSDE is also launched program guidance and applications to identify and select a series of vendors that will work with one or more than one of the state’s twenty-four Local Education Agencies (LEAs) as part of the MSDE’s new Maryland Leads program and one (or more) of the program’s seven, high-leverage strategies. The Maryland Leads Partner Program is open to any and all applicants that can, either directly or through its subcontractor(s), provide all goods and services and meet all of the requirements `related to the Maryland Leads strategy(ies) and focus area(s) to which the Applicant responds.

MSDE’s website has more details about the Partner Program and its goal to collaborate with LEAs to implement the Maryland Leads Program.

Have questions on the Maryland Leads Program? Contact: Justin Dayhoff, Assistant State Superintendent, Financial Planning, Operations, and Strategy

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