State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler announced that 20 North Dakota education sites have been awarded $41.8 million in grants, to be distributed over five years, to help students across the state improve their skills in reading, writing and speaking.
The Comprehensive Literacy State Development grant program is designed to strengthen literacy skills in children from birth through 12th grade, while emphasizing assistance for disadvantaged students, including those in low-income households; students with disabilities; students who are learning English as a second language; and those who are homeless or in foster care.
The grants are going to 19 sites and a collaborative group of three school district communities in southeastern North Dakota – Richland 44, Northern Cass, and Milnor. A site is defined as one or more school districts and the site’s respective community partners.
Collectively, the school districts in those communities educate 67 percent of North Dakota’s almost 114,000 public school students. As part of a competitive process, sites were awarded grants based on their numbers of disadvantaged children, and the percentage of disadvantaged children each site had when compared to its total student enrollment.
A focus of the grant money is to pay for technical assistance and literacy-related professional development for educators. For example, teachers will get instruction to improve their ability to teach literacy skills in the classroom.
“This grant will benefit students of all ages across North Dakota,” Baesler said. “It will have a lasting, sustainable impact, and it will encourage family and community engagement and non-traditional learning opportunities for all children.”
The 20 education sites are to receive their grant funds according to the schedule.
The U.S. Department of Education administers the grant program nationally. Grants are awarded to state education departments for distribution to local schools, which are invited to apply for a share of the money.
State lawmakers have authorized the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction to distribute two years’ worth of grant funds, totaling $16.9 million, to the 20 education sites. Subsequent grant rounds will be included in the NDDPI’s proposed two-year budgets for legislative review.