Grants to tackle education learning deficits will open next week.

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Some Texas County families have the opportunity to tap funding to help student learning — ranging from tutors to internet access.

Applications open Wednesday, Sept. 20, for $1,500 grants for a small percentage of Missouri public and charter school students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

“Close the Gap” grants ( ) can be used for tutoring, computers, internet access, summer camps and other academic and artistic enrichment programs to address disruptions to education during the pandemic.  

The grants funded by $25 million in federal COVID aid could potentially go to 16,700 students or less than 2% of Missouri’s total public school enrollment.

State legislators led by Rep. Cody Smith, R-Carthage, created the grant program during the appropriation process for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Smith is the chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Grants will be prioritized for families with income below 185% of the federal poverty level and then open to all families if there are sufficient funds remaining. 

The deadline to apply for the grants is Oct. 25. The funds will be distributed through the third-party vendor Odyssey of New York.

Test scores in Missouri have yet to rebound to pre-pandemic numbers in most subjects and grade levels. Statewide, 44% of students tested proficient in English, a decrease of 5 percentage points from 2019. In math, 40% were proficient, down 4 percentage points from 2019. Proficiency in science increased slightly to 39% over the last year but still down from 42% in 2019.

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