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More than 18,000 families to receive online learning grants

Posted at 8:29 AM, Dec 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-28 10:29:17-05

This article was written by Clark Corbin of Idaho Education News.

More than 18,000 Idaho families will receive grants designed to help cover the cost of online learning, the State Board of Education said.

And they shouldn’t have to wait long to get the money. By law, it has to be in their new digital accounts by the end of the year.

With award decisions complete, 18,465 families will receive Strong Families, Strong Students grants, State Board spokesman Mike Keckler said.

Overall, the state received 39,908 applications, 26,512 of which were completed.

Families can use the grants to cover expenses such as online learning materials, computers and devices and internet connectivity.

Strong Families, Strong Students is a $50 million grant program paid for from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, a federal stimulus law passed in March.

Grants can total $1,500 per student or $3,500 per family.

The state had enough funding to cover every applicant in the first wave, with an adjusted gross income of $50,000 or less, Keckler said.

But due to overwhelming response to the program, the state did not have enough grant money to for all applicants with incomes of $75,000 or less.

State Board officials expect all successful applicants to be notified by Wednesday.

The state’s vendor, ClassWallet, will follow up this week with emails that have instructions for families to activate their accounts and digital wallets.

ClassWallet has until Dec. 30 to send the money to families. Then, families have until June 30 to spend it.

Here’s a breakdown of the awards:

  • Wave 1 families (adjusted gross income of $50,000 or less): 13,730 families, $34.7 million in grant awards.
  • Wave 2 families (adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less): 4,735 families, $12.7 million in grant awards.
  • Average adjusted gross income of families receiving grants: $35,738.

Here’s a breakdown of contract and program costs:

  • ClassWallet setup cost: $250,000.
  • Application fee of $53 per application: $2.1 million.
  • ClassWallet reimbursement fee setup: $15 per account, $276,975.
  • Total contract costs: $2.6 million.
  • Total program costs: $4.99 million.