Governor Lamont Announces 150 Proposals Submitted by Connecticut High School Students Are Under Consideration for COVID Relief Funding
Connecticut’s Voice4Change Initiative Empowers High School Students to Decide How $1.5 Million in Relief Funds Are Spent
HARTFORD, CT (STL.News) Governor Ned Lamont and Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker today announced that 150 proposals submitted by high school students across Connecticut have been deemed eligible by the Connecticut State Department of Education to be voted on as part of the Voice4Change initiative, a first-of-its-kind campaign that is empowering students to decide how $1.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding for schools will be spent.
The governor launched the initiative in November, explaining that its goal is to increase student engagement by challenging students to think critically to solve real-world problems, while also giving them a voice in how these relief funds will be used. The Connecticut State Department of Education set aside funding from the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund to support the initiative.
Students in participating high schools were required to submit proposals to the state outlining how they would spend up to $20,000 in their schools. A total of 201 proposals were received and thoroughly reviewed by staff from the Connecticut State Department of Education to ensure they meet federal rules for ARP ESSER investments, as well as alignment with the department’s state-level priorities. From those, 150 proposals from 54 high schools were deemed eligible.
Students from participating high schools will vote on the proposals on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. The Connecticut State Department of Education will announce the winners in early April and begin working with districts to disperse funds and bring the proposals to life.
Student proposals had the option of aligning with more than one state-level priority. As a result:
- 71% (107) of the proposals address the social, emotional, and mental health of students and school staff;
- 52% (78) of the proposals address learning acceleration, academic renewal, and student enrichment;
- 38% (57) of the proposals address building safe and healthy schools;
- 35% (53) of the proposals address family and community connections; and
- 17% (25) of the proposals address the strategic use of technology, staff development, and the digital divide.
“This is the first time that any state has conducted an initiative of this kind, and I am very excited by the number of responses we received and the interest that was shown by Connecticut high school students,” Governor Lamont said. “Next, they will cast their ballots to decide which ones should be approved. This is their opportunity to help make a change in their schools, and I look forward to seeing the results.”
“The Connecticut State Department of Education is immensely pleased with and proud of the innovation and creativity present in the student proposals,” Commissioner Russell-Tucker said. “Students responded to our call-to-action with a focus on their social-emotional well-being. Our students are not only our future leaders – they are the changemakers of today.”