Grants of up to $1,500 offered to Missouri families to address learning loss

Funds will prioritize low-income families
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 5:05 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOV) -- The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has partnered with selected vendor Odyssey to administer the “Close the Gap” Grant program.

The program offers a one-time grant of up to $1,500 to eligible families for allowable education expenses such as tutoring, internet access, computer equipment, after-school activities and more.

“We’re talking about things like tutoring, online programs, apps, subscriptions, that might be providing tutoring or other types of learning or study services,” said Mallory McGowin, spokesperson for the Missouri DESE. “We’re also talking about things like before and after school programs that have an educational focus.”

Odyssey is described by DESE as, “a platform that helps states connect families to public funding and education services.”

Applications are available online and must be submitted by October 25. The funds can be used for any education expense that occurred between July 1, 2022 and June 2, 2024.

“To be eligible for the grant, students must be a Missouri resident and be enrolled in grades K-12 in a Missouri public school district or charter school,” the department’s memo said. “Per state statute, the distribution of funds will be prioritized for families whose income is below 185 percent of the federal poverty level. If sufficient funds are available after those below 185 percent of the federal poverty level receive funds, families at or above that poverty level may receive funds.”

According to DESE, more than 1,100 applications had been submitted in the first 24 hours of their availability.

“Every student deserves access to a high-quality education, and Odyssey will provide Missouri families and students with convenient and modern technology to quickly and easily access funds to get what they need to succeed,” said Joseph Connor, founder and CEO at Odyssey. “The pandemic brought on unimaginable challenges for our students and their learning. Missouri’s Close the Gap Program will help support the ongoing efforts to accelerate learning and get students back on track.”

Parents will have to create an Odyssey account in order to submit an application and access the funds.

The list of educational expenses allowed under the program include:

  • 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.

Parents can follow this link to apply for the program.