When the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) became the nation’s education law in 2015, PMEA began notifying members about the new federal grant program under Title IV of ESSA – know as the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants. Generally known as Title IV, this federal grant program is designed to provide equitable access to a well-rounded education to all students.
The federal law defines a well-rounded education as including a list of subject areas including music and the arts. That means music educators can access these funds to expand their programs. We have provided a variety of resources on pmea.net explaining the program but also explaining how you can access the funds for the program. Now that we’re through a full year of grant applications, we have some success stories of how Pennsylvania districts applied for Title IV funding and used that funding for music programs. This is not a complete list but a sampling of ideas that could help you apply for and use these funds for your program.
Remember, when you are applying for funds, you are required to do a needs assessment of your program (as simple as looking at your district wide program and identifying deficiencies), and then work with your administration and apply for funding for a specific item or project that would provide access and opportunity to music for students in your school.
Here are some of the success stories we heard in Pennsylvania that were funded by federal Title IV dollars in the last year:
- A band and drama camp workshop. This school hired a new band director and felt adding this supplemental camp would be beneficial for the students and the new director to begin the marching band season. The drama workshop allowed for additional drama skills. Prior to the workshop, the only drama skills were those taught for specific roles in the high school musical production. This workshop was supplemental and provided extra drama learning.
- Additional equipment for the band and chorus program. The school districts music program has been growing and some schools were teaching without proper equipment to allow the program to continue to grow and provided a well-rounded music education. Equipment was purchased and used to fill the gaps in schools where there was a deficiency in adequate equipment for all students. By presenting an argument that all students were not receiving equitable access to a proper music education, the district was able to use the federal Title IV money for equipment at specific schools.
- A new piano. One district showed the need for a piano that would benefit students in the band, chorus, and orchestra program. By showing that having a piano would benefit many students and that it was supplemental to the regular budget in the school district, the music department was able to justify the use of Title IV funds for a new piano.
- A pilot theater program with a community theatre. A program between a community theatre and a second-grade glass was designed to introduce the second graders to theatrical performances as well as audience behavior and expectations.
- A variety of things. One district used a part of their Title IV funding for the music program but decided to use that part on a variety of things. In addition to purchasing supplies, they funded arts teachers attending workshops during in service days. In one particular district, in addition to professional development, they realized a need for an additional genre of music that wasn’t initially budgeted for and if one building covered the cost with current funds and another didn’t, then a case was made to use Title IV funds to make sure the course was offered equitably across all schools.
You can tell that some of these examples range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. Each district receives a different allocation based on a formula. And districts have the option on how they spend this money and are able to split up their allocation in a variety of areas.
As a music educator, you can take the first step and begin conversations with the rest of your music department to discuss where you find need for supplemental items, activities or experiences. Once you do that, you should have conversations with your administrators – especially those handling federal funding in your district – about how to access federal funds.
Remember, even if you don’t receive these federal dollars for your program, simply by doing your homework, you may present a compelling enough case that your district will fit your request into their regular budget allocations.