Indiana Dept. of Education awards $122M in grants to summer learning programs to get kids caught up

IN Focus: Indiana Politics

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Department of Education is working to get kids caught up on their learning this summer after a challenging year.

IDOE recently awarded $122 million in grants to 110 community organizations and schools running summer learning programs, officials have announced.

“Education doesn’t just mean school,” said Jonathan Jones, executive director of Motivate Our Minds, Inc., a learning center in Muncie.

Motivate Our Minds launched a summer reading camp for children ages 5 to 8 last year. Thanks to a nearly $30,000 grant from IDOE, Jones said he is able to expand the program to serve 90 students tuition free this year — more than double the number of students he had previously.

“It takes away barriers for those communities, those families that really need it the most,” he said.

The funding was awarded under the state’s Student Learning Recovery Grant Program. The Indiana General Assembly set aside $150 million in state funding for the grants earlier this year.

“Our game plan is to also expand that into 2022 and to be able to engage more families, more students and just to make sure that this is not a one-off,” Jones said.

The funding reaches students in 83 of Indiana’s 92 counties, according to the education department.

“We’ve noticed what we would call a significant drop in the reading and math,” said Vicki Bell, executive director of the Wells Community Boys & Girls Club in Bluffton.

Bell said her organization is using its grant to hire more instructors to work one-on-one with children who need to catch up. The grant allows her club to enroll 25% more students this summer, she added.

“We are just excited with COVID kind of being on the decrease right now that we’re able to serve more children and help them with their homework and educational needs,” Bell said.

The education department will monitor the students’ progress under these programs, according to a spokesperson. Roughly $28 million in grants will be awarded at a later time.

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