Starting this week, we will be providing a Friday update about our advocacy efforts, national, state and local government funding for K-12 education and immediate action items. We hope that you will join our efforts, your ideas and feedback, and encourage your institutions to take advantage of every opportunity.
Federal Funding for COVID-19 Education Relief (ESSER Fund)
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education announced that state governments can begin applying for $13.25 billion in the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. Read the OU’s statement welcoming this move. As part of the CARES Act national relief package, the fund provides states with broad flexibility to use these resources to meet all students’ needs, and are required to equitably support nonpublic schools.
An additional source of federal education funds is the Governors Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, also created by the CARES Act and also carrying the requirement to equitably support nonpublic schools. There is nothing for a school to apply to at this time – there are no school applications, the funds were simply made available to the state governments around the country.
Teach Florida will be working with you to ensure nonpublic school students receive their fair share as required by law, and will be asking for your support to convey the message most effectively.
SBA Loans: PPP
Congress approved a second stimulus package including $320 billion for forgivable loans to small businesses and nonprofits. This funding is for the institutions and business that did not receive funding in the initial PPP round. President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law shortly.
Teach Florida urges every eligible school and synagogue that did not yet receive funding to contact their lenders as soon as possible to get their PPP applications in. We are pleased to share recording of our past teleconferences here and here.
State News Highlights
Teach Florida has worked tirelessly to secure kosher lunches from the state. Thank you to our schools for sending out the survey to families. There are at least 1300 students asking for lunches. We will continue to advocate that kosher lunches become available immediately to students in South Florida as part of the state’s grab and go lunch program. We have been working with Commissioner Jared Moskowitz and the Department of Emergency Management, and the Department of Agriculture, to make this happen. Thanks to Teach Florida’s advocacy, another 850 students are receiving lunches through the federal free and reduced lunch programs of the Hebrew Academy Community School and the Lubavitch Educational Center. (They are the only two Jewish schools participating in the federal lunch program.) We want to give a special thanks to Dr. Martin Karp, Alan Sakowitz and Representative Joe Geller who have worked right along side us to advocate for kosher grab and go lunches. A very special shout out to Dr. Karp, Alan Sakowitz and an amazing team of volunteers and donors who stepped up to provide several lunches to North Miami Beach students over the last three weeks.
Reopen Florida Task Force
Teach Florida was asked to participate on Governor DeSantis Reopen Florida Task Force Industry Working Group on Administrative, Education, Information and Technology, Manufacturing, Mining, Utilities and Wholesale, when Governor DeSantis asked our executive director, Mimi Jankovits, to serve. She was able to advocate for relief funding for nonpublic schools during the committee meetings, citing the unprecedented challenges to nonpublic schools, the financial impact on tuition and scholarship programs, and the potential catastrophic effect on public school enrollment if no relief comes to families. Click here for article.
Teach Florida COVID-19 Action Committee
Teach Florida member schools, donors and activists met on Tuesday for an update of national and state activities, and to discuss upcoming action items. In the upcoming weeks, our advocacy will be focused on local school boards and school district superintendents because the federal funding will be going through the school districts. If you have relationships with school board members or high level school district staff, please contact Mimi or Danny right away. If you are interested in being part of the committee to help with our advocacy through this crisis, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meeting with Florida House Minority Leader Rep. Evan Jenne
To kick off the Teach Florida elected officials ambassador network, several Hollywood school and lay leaders met their representative, Evan Jenne, who is the House Minority Leader designate. The video-chat proved to be an effective format to discuss the challenges facing our schools and families, and for Rep Jenne to express his support for our efforts. He shared our concern for the future of nonpublic schools if the State of Florida does not step in to provide relief and committed to working on our behalf in the State Legislature. Teach Florida will continue hosting video meetings with elected officials to build relationships and advocate for relief for our schools and students.
As federal funding starts heading to the states and the state issues it reopen Florida plan, Teach Florida will be working hard to advocate for equitable funding while tackling the new developments that will certainly come up. We look forward to sharing weekly updates and welcome your questions and ideas.