By Terri Jo Neff
Starting this Friday, low-income families with K-12 students will be able to apply online for up to $7,000 in immediate relief to support educational opportunities which will close the achievement gap and better equip underserved students.
Gov. Doug Ducey announced Tuesday an initial $10 million investment for Arizona’s COVID-19 Educational Recovery Benefit program. The funding – on a first come, first serve basis – will provide choice for families facing financial and educational barriers due to unnecessary closures and school mandates which do not comply with state law.
“Our COVID-19 Educational Recovery Benefit will empower parents to exercise their choice when it comes to their child’s education and COVID-19 mitigation strategies,” Ducey said. “It will also give families in need the opportunity to access educational resources like tutoring, child care, transportation and other needs.”
According to the governor’s office, Ducey has been working for weeks to create an additional program to provide more education options for families.
Eligible families can have a total household income up to 350 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. In addition, applicants must demonstrate the student’s current school is isolating, quarantining, or subjecting children to physical in-school COVID-19 constraints such as mask mandates or preferential treatment of vaccinated students.
“We know that historically disadvantaged communities bear the brunt of excessive and overbearing measures, and we want to ensure these students are protected,” Ducey said.
The COVID-19 Educational Recovery Benefit program has the full support of Senate President Karen Fann and House Speaker Rusty Bowers.
“Educators, families and state leaders are working hard to get students back on track, and the Educational Recovery Benefit program will make sure kids have every opportunity to grow and thrive,” said Fann.
Bowers noted the desire to keep children “safe, healthy, and achieving” during the pandemic, adding that with the new program, “we can do it all at the same time.”
Grant applications can be submitted starting Friday. Additional information is available at https://arizonatogether.org/educationalrecoverybenefit/