What is GEER Funding through the CARES Act?
In response to the Covid 19 Pandemic, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) has created an Educational Stabilization Fund designed to support K-12 education as well as institutes of higher education across the country. Of particular interest to K-12 districts and all Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) is the nearly $3 billion Governor’s Emergency Educational Relief Fund (GEER) being distributed to states proportionally based on each State’s relative population of individuals aged 5 through 24. If you’re curious how much money your state is set to receive (or has received), click here.
How it Works:
Funding flows to the state governor’s office which must sign a certification form, request its share, and decide how best to distribute the money.
States have broad discretion to determine how to allocate and distribute these funds to LEAs within their territories.
Each Governor will have one year, from the date of the State’s award, to award funds. Any funds not awarded by the Governor within one year of receiving the State’s award will be returned to the Department for reallocation.
What type of Purchases can Qualify:
GEER funding is the most flexible portion of the Economic Stabilization Fund. The funds can be used to support LEAs of all types, so long as they are deemed by the state to be essential to carrying out emergency educational services.
A direct quote from Secretary of the Department of Education Betsy Devos:
“My Department will not micromanage how you (states) spend these funds, but I encourage you, at a time when so many school boards, superintendents, and institutions of higher education have had to close their brick and mortar campuses for the balance of the school year, to focus these resources on ensuring that all students continue to learn most likely through some form of remote learning.”
Strategies to Obtain GEER Funding for Qualified Purchases:
It varies state by state! Consult your state’s Education Department website for specific resources and / or requirements.
Come up with a (prioritized) wish list of programs and support tools to help support distance learning. The more closely your proposal is tied to the intention of the legislation (supporting remote learning), the more likely it is to gain approval.
Encourage your local and state government to apply for GEER funds! Include why you’re hopeful they acquire the funding and what your intended use is. Include this link to the legislation and certification form. Of course it’s easy to assume our local and state governments have already taken proactive steps, but A) you never know, and B) it never hurts to be eager and proactive yourself!
Ask multiple people, through multiple channels about your state’s process for requesting GEER funding. Go to local and state governmental levels.
Consult your local Chamber of Commerce. Chambers of Commerce have a vested interest in local school districts and LEA’s keeping up with others in the state and capitalizing on this opportunity. See if they can advocate on your behalf.
Power in numbers - partner with neighboring districts to propose a broad, geographically based initiative. Think creatively for how you can convince legislators and administrators that your plan will provide maximum impact for helping students.
This period of distance learning brought on by Covid 19 was unanticipated by all, and these government funds are available to help districts everywhere provide the best instruction possible to their students. Be sure to do all you can to take advantage of the assistance that is available!