If Missouri families need help getting their K-12 public school students to hit the books, a new grant program could give the children a boost.

The Close the Gap grant program is now open to help with things like:

• Instructional resource materials;
• Tutoring;
• Academic day or summer camps;
• Computer equipment;
• Internet connectivity;
• Before- and afterschool educational programs;
• Course fees and textbooks;
• Online access for an academic app or subscription;
• Education, learning, or study skills services;
• Arts-related day or summer camps; and
• Art enrichment.

Mallory McGowin, chief communications officer with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said the grants, of up to $1,500 per student, will be prioritized for low-income families.

“Post-pandemic, students across Missouri incurred a lot of varying levels of learning loss. What the Close the Gap grant program does is allow Missouri families to meet their student’s individual personal needs,” McGowin told Missourinet.

The Missouri Legislature and Gov. Mike Parson approved the $25 million grant program last year. Per state statute, the distribution of funds will be prioritized for families whose income is below 185% of the federal poverty level. If funds are leftover, families at or above that poverty level may receive funds.

Interest is pouring in for the education grants. McGowin said as of September 27, the department has already received applications for more than 36,000 students.

“The team that’s reviewing those applications will be working to get this assistance and this help to the families that need it the most, and then determining how best to spread that money out to the many Missouri families. So there’ll be scoring those applications and moving through those as quickly as they can. So, not necessarily a first come, first serve basis,” said McGowin. Certainly possible that not everyone that submits an application will be deemed eligible or be able to receive funds, but hopeful that it’s going to get to the families that need it the most to support their student’s ongoing learning acceleration post-COVID pandemic.”

For this initiative, Missouri has teamed up with Odyssey, a platform that helps states connect families to public funding and education services. Families awarded funds can select products or services in the online Odyssey marketplace or they can request to be reimbursed. They can be reimbursed for qualifying expenses from July 1, 2022 to June 1, 2024.

The deadline to apply is October 25.

To find out more information and apply, click here.

Copyright 2023, Missourinet