American Rescue Plan funding given to AZ orgs to help students

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The Arizona Department of Education has announced that more than two dozen organizations in the state will receive millions of dollars in post-pandemic support. Joining us to talk about where the funds are going and how they will be used, we welcome State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman.

How many organizations are receiving grants?

Hoffman said that 27 organizations are currently set to receive funding, but more are expected to come.

“It’s not a done deal,” Hoffman said.

What was the selection process, and what is the money going toward?

In Fall 2021, the Arizona Department of Education created a task force to help decide how federal COVID-19 funds were going to be spent. This led to the creation of a grant program, with over 140 groups applying for funding, including school and community-based organizations as well as post-secondary institutions. 

According to Hoffman, potential candidates were looking to spend the money on endeavors “above and beyond” what happens in Arizona classrooms in their current state. The task force was also looking for an emphasis on math, after a study found that kids in Arizona were falling behind.

“The big goal set by the task force was ‘we need to accelerate learning in Arizona. That’s why you’re seeing investments in STEM, in literacy, civics, in special education, in mental and physical wellbeing, so everything that goes above and beyond what’s happening in our classrooms.”

Hoffman also noted that the federal government has been a bit flexible when it comes to how the money is spent, allowing for investments in student mental health services and new programming by universities like ASU.

Is the big goal here to get kids caught up?

According to Hoffman, the federal government mandated that the funds provided through the American Rescue Plan must go toward summer learning opportunities, as well as before and after school programs.

 “It’s really meant to build upon our students’ typical education program,” Hoffman said.

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