Amidst the flurry of post-election political news and speculation about K-12 education policy over the next four years, supporters of diverse public schools should not overlook two opportunities to garner federal financial support for their efforts. In its last months the Obama administration has set in motion two competitive grant programs designed to promote efforts to encourage racially, ethnically and socioeconomically diverse enrollments in public schools.
The first such program is the familiar Magnet School Assistance Program (MSAP). Ordinarily, this program has only awarded grants in three year cycles, and last year’s grants were already awarded. But because the Department of Education awarded a smaller number of front-loaded grants last year, it announced a new competition on December 13, 2016. Applications will be accepted from school districts with court-ordered or voluntary desegregation plans. The grants will be awarded to fund magnet programs designed to prevent, reduce or eliminate minority group isolation. The application deadline is April 11, 2017. The Department expects to award several three-year grants ranging from $700,000 to $3,000,000 per budget year and expects to have a total of more than $90 million to award under this program.
At the same time, the Department of Education also announced another program designed to help districts that may not be as far along in their thinking about how to promote diverse enrollments. The Opening Doors, Expanding Opportunities Program has been designed to provide up to 20 grants to school districts or groups of school districts to assist them in efforts to develop plans concerning how best to promote diverse enrollments in their communities. Districts that have already done such planning may use grant funds to support a variety of implementation efforts. The Department expects to award $12 million in grants under this program. School districts that are eligible to receive School Improvement Grants may submit an application. The applications are due on February 13, 2017.
If your district wants to promote diverse school enrollments, these programs offer great opportunities to support those efforts.