On July 28, the Murphy administration announced that the fiscal year 2024 budget dedicates $35 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding (American Rescue Plan State Fiscal Recovery Funds) to support districts in offering high-impact tutoring interventions for students disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

That represents a $25 million increase in ARP SFRF funds dedicated to this purpose from the $10 million Gov. Phil Murphy initially announced in his budget message. Combined with the $17 million in federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief funds the governor dedicated for this purpose in February, the announcement brings the total amount available for high-impact tutoring to $52 million.

As outlined in the New Jersey Department of Education’s July 28 broadcast memo, the $52 million will be disbursed via a single-year limited competitive grant initiative open to all school districts serving students in grades three or four. Grant funds may be used to compensate district staff for their tutoring services if the tutoring comports with evidence-based requirements detailed in the grant, or for contracting with an NJDOE-approved vendor (the current list of approved vendors may be found on pages 3-4 of the above-linked broadcast memo; the NJDOE has also reopened the request for qualifications to accept additional vendor applications). It is the responsibility of the LEA to contract with the vendor providing tutoring services; all LEAs must follow local policies and procedures for contracting with vendors as well as the Public School Contracts Law and associated regulations.

Maximum award sizes will be based on English language arts and math New Jersey Student Learning Assessments proficiency levels and grades three and four enrollment, capping at $768,000 for districts with 1,001+ students in grades three and four and an NJSLA proficiency level less than 30%. Tutoring services for grades three and four will be prioritized, but grantees may serve additional students as needed.

Programs that meet research-based best practices, such as three or more 30-60 minute sessions per week, conducted in-person during the school day, in groups no larger than four students per tutor will be prioritized. The NJDOE will also prioritize applicants that demonstrate that they will or have obligated ARP ESSER funds toward learning acceleration (beyond the 20% reserve requirement under sections 2001(d) and (e) of ARP) “as a demonstration of ability and commitment to address learning loss and take full advantage of their COVID relief funding.” The grant period will run Oct 11, 2023 – Aug 31, 2024.

The notice of grant opportunity is now available on the NJDOE’s Office of Grants Management webpage. The deadline to apply is 4 p.m. on Sept. 20, 2023. The NJDOE is providing four technical assistance webinars regarding the grant opportunity: two on Friday, Aug. 11 (10-11 a.m. and 2-3 p.m.) and two on Monday, Aug. 14 (10-11 a.m. and 2-3 p.m.). Preregistration is required and open until Aug. 9.

Please note that while preapproved vendors were required to meet the criteria and provide information required in the NJDOE’s February request for quote, inclusion does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the NJDOE; it remains the exclusive responsibility of each district to independently verify and investigate all providers and services prior to contracting to ensure that the providers are apprised of all rules and regulations and can meet goals as specified by the district.

For more information regarding the New Jersey Learning Acceleration Program: High-Impact Tutoring NGO and resources, reach out via email.