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Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs: FY2018

Strategic Support to Specific Underperforming Schools and Districts
Fund Code: 323Q 220Q

Purpose: The purpose of this non-competitive grant program is to fund specific strategic initiatives that will improve the state's lowest achieving schools and districts, and support their continuous cycle of improvement.

This grant program is aligned with the state's overarching goal:
  • To prepare all students for success after high school

These grant funds will contribute to that goal by supporting the following state strategy:
  • Turning around the lowest performing schools and districts

Eligible schools and districts will be able to apply throughout the year as needs emerge and funds become available. Applications are only accepted from schools/districts that have demonstrated financial need through multiple criteria determined by the Department, including ongoing communication and interaction with the Department relative to school and district accountability status, receivership status, State Board of Education input, ongoing data analysis, accountability site visits, and independent studies. Federal funding used for such grants will conform to Title I Section 1003 School Improvement State Reservation requirements and/or to State Targeted Assistance funding.

To support effective planning and the strategic use of grant funds, ESE requires that eligible schools and districts explain in detail how the strategic initiatives funded through this grant program connect to state standards and indicators of effective practice as well as turnaround practices.

ESEA requires states and districts to implement "evidence-based" practices, activities, strategies and interventions with demonstrated evidence of effectiveness. Evidence-based practices refer to interventions for which there is evidence of significant positive impact that can be found in published research papers, literature reviews, or the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education research briefs. Alternately, evidence-based practices can be those local practices that a district or state has previously instituted, measured, and found to be effective. Additional guidance from the U.S. Department of Education regarding evidence can be found at Non-Regulatory Guidance: Using Evidence to Strengthen Education Investments.

All schools and districts must explain how proposed strategic initiatives connect to indicators for one or more of the state's six district standards (See Appendix A) and to the 2016 Massachusetts Turnaround Practices. The standards, defined in District Standards and Indicators Download Word Document, are:
  1. Leadership and Governance
  2. Curriculum and Instruction
    Tip: If connecting to the Curriculum and Instruction standard, school/districts may want to integrate the Massachusetts Tiered System of Support (MTSS) with their planning.
  3. Assessment
    Tip: If connecting to the Assessment standard, schools/districts may want to integrate the Massachusetts Tiered System of Support (MTSS) with their planning.
  4. Human Resources and Professional Development
    Tip: If connecting to this standard's Indicator 3, Professional Development, school/districts may want to apply the Massachusetts Standards for Professional Development to their planning.
  5. Student Support
    Tip: If connecting to this standard's Indicator 4, Partnerships and Services to Support Learning, schools/districts may want to explain how their proposed initiatives connect to indicators for one or more of the Massachusetts Family, School, and Community Partnership Fundamentals (See Appendix B).

    Tip: If connecting to this standard, schools/districts may also want to integrate the Massachusetts Tiered System of Support (MTSS) and/or The Behavioral Health and Public Schools Framework with their planning.
  6. Financial and Asset Management
The turnaround practices are:
  1. Leadership, shared responsibility, and professional collaboration;
  2. Intentional practices for improving teacher-specific and student-responsive instruction;
  3. Student-specific supports and interventions informed by data and the identification of student-specific needs; and/or
  4. A safe and respectful learning environment for students and a collegial, collaborative, and professional culture for teachers.

Applying schools/districts must also identify the grant program goals and initiatives, and describe how they will monitor progress towards such goals, including identifying and describing early evidence of change, intermediate implementation benchmarks, and long-term evidence of success, which they will use to assess progress for each initiative and for the overall program goals.

Since these initiatives support the school's or district's existing turnaround process, the school/district is not asked to set additional outcome measures for this work. The district's measures under the state's accountability and assistance system and Measurable Annual Goals (MAGS), if applicable, will serve as outcome measures for these initiatives as well.

Priorities: Priority will be given to specific Level 3, 4, and 5 schools and districts that have been identified under the state's Framework for Accountability and Assistance and criteria described in the Purpose section above.
Eligibility: This grant is available to Level 3, 4, and 5 schools and districts only. The Department will list on this grant posting, on a rolling basis, schools and or districts and their designated grant allocations. Grants will only be approved after programmatic and budgetary reviews by Department staff as noted above and upon request of review by the Office of the Governor. The following designated recipients at this time are listed below.
  • Boston Public Schools:
    • Fund Code 323-Q (1) for $400,000 from Title I Section 1003 School Improvement reservation funds for Dever School Turnaround.
  • Holyoke Public Schools:
    • Fund Code 323-Q(1) for $1,465,000 from Title I Section 1003 School Improvement reservation funds for L5 District Turnaround Continuation;
    • Fund Code 323-Q(2) for $160,000 from Title I Section 1003 School Improvement reservation funds for Morgan School Turnaround Continuation;
  • Southbridge Public Schools:
    • Fund Code 220-Q (1) for $197,296 from Title I Section 1003 School Improvement reservation funds for L5 District Turnaround;
    • Fund Code 323-Q (1) for $552,704 from Title I Section 1003 School Improvement reservation funds for L5 District Turnaround.
  • Springfield Public Schools:
    • Fund Code 220-Q (1) for $245,000 from State Targeted Assistance funds for High School of Commerce School Turnaround;
    • Fund Code 323-Q(1) for $100,000 from Title I Section 1003 School Improvement reservation funds for SEZP Continuation; and
    • Fund Code 220-Q (2) for $240,000 from State Targeted Assistance funds for SEZP Continuation.
    • Fund Code 220-Q (3) for $110,000 from State Targeted Assistance funds to support the Teach Western Mass initiative.
The following districts are eligible to receive from $50,000 up to $200,000 in grant funding under fund code 323-Q from Title I Section 1003 School Improvement reservation funds for eligible schools to receive Level 3 turnaround support as part of the Level 3 Turnaround Opportunity in which they are participating:
  • Brockton Public Schools:
    • Fund Code 323-Q(1) for $50,000 up to $200,000 from Title I Section 1003 School Improvement reservation funds for Dr. W. Arnone Community School for Level 3 turnaround support
  • New Bedford Public Schools:
    • Fund Code 323-Q(1) for $50,000 up to $200,000 from Title I Section 1003 School Improvement reservation funds for Alfred J. Gomes School for Level 3 turnaround support
  • Webster Public Schools:
    • Fund Code 323-Q(1) for $50,000 up to $200,000 from Title I Section 1003 School Improvement reservation funds for Park Avenue Elementary School for Level 3 turnaround support
These funds should be aligned with other district funds focused on school turnaround efforts. Applications will be awarded based on the quality of the proposal and with the amount pro-rated relative to the date of submission and its proximity to the funding period end date.

The following districts are eligible to receive grant funding, using fund code 323-Q from Title I Section 1003 School Improvement reservation funds to provide targeted assistance to improve their lowest performing Title I schools (Level 3 Focus schools, Level 4 schools, and Level 5 schools). Assistance should include strategies that align to the 2016 Massachusetts Turnaround Practices Research and promote rapid improvement in student performance and outcomes.

* Eligible districts (listed in the chart below) may receive additional funding beyond their base allocation, up to the amount specified in the chart below, to participate in ESE's Turnaround Plan Development Process. If a district applies and is awarded the opportunity for up to three of their Level 3 Focus schools to participate in the ESE's Turnaround Plan Development Process, then the base grant award will be amended up to provide an additional $16,500 per school to engage in networking, data analysis, root cause analysis, a Turnaround Site Visit by an outside vendor, and Turnaround Plan development in SY17-18 that is expected to be reviewed by the ESE and implemented by the school in SY18-19. Level 3 Focus schools eligible to apply must be in the 1st through 10th percentile based on 2016 accountability data. Eligible schools are listed in Appendix C.

FY18 Grants to Commissioner's Districts

to Improve the Lowest Performing Title I Levels 3 Focus schools, Level 4 schools, and Level 5 schools
Grant Award RangeBase:* Up to:
Boston$450,000$499,500
Brockton$200,000$249,500
Fall River$100,000$149,500
Lawrence$125,000$174,500
Lowell$100,000$149,500
Lynn$100,000$149,500
New Bedford$275,000$324,500
Springfield$275,000$324,500
Worcester$125,000$174,500
Maximum funding available: $2,000,000


Funding Type: Fund Code 323: Federal Title I (CFDA 84.010)

Fund Code 220: State Targeted Assistance

Funding: Funding for the grant will come from federal and/or state funds as described above. The total allocation per grant will be determined by financial needs articulated by eligible schools/districts in meetings and other communication with the Department, spending plans drawn up by the Department projecting financial needs of known underperforming schools and districts, and input from the Commissioner, the State Board of Education, and other Department staff in the Center for Accountability, Partnerships, & Targeted Assistance.

Funding is contingent upon availability. All dollar amounts listed are estimated/approximate and are subject to change. If more funding is to become available it will be distributed under the same guideline as listed in the initial RFP document.

Fund Use: Fund use must be consistent with applicable state and/or federal requirements. Districts are allowed to budget funds at both the district level and school level.

All expenditures will be closely reviewed as they relate to the priorities of this grant opportunity.

Project Duration: Upon Approval - 6/30/2018 (state) and 8/31/18 (federal)
Program Unit: Office of District and School Turnaround, Center for District Support
Contact: Programmatic:
Office of District and School Turnaround Liaison
Abigail T. Slayton
(781) 338-3517

Date Due: To be determined by the Department in consultation with eligible school/district.

Required Forms:
Download Excel Document
Fund Code 220Q: Part I - Standard Contract and Application for Program
Download Excel Document
Fund Code 323 Workbook: Part I - Standard Contract and Application for Program Grants and Part II - Required Program Information for 323-Q funding: Applicants will use this workbook to indicate the amount of funding under this grant attributable to Title I eligible schools and to describe how those grant funds will be used.

Additional Information:
Download Word Document
Appendix A: Massachusetts District Standards and Indicators
Download Word Document
Appendix B: Massachusetts Family, School, and Community Partnership Fundamentals
Download Word Document
Appendix C: Focus Schools Eligible for Turnaround Plan Development Process

Submission Instructions: Submit all required grant materials through EdGrants

In EdGrants, districts are required to create and name the project. Please use the following naming convention for your "Applicant Project Name" in EdGrants:

FY18 323-Q, 220-Q Strategic Support to Specific Underperforming Schools and Districts

All required forms should be uploaded / attached in the Attachments List formlet of the Application Submission. This includes a signed / scanned PDF of Part I / Coversheet with Superintendent's signature as well as the workbook final budget the applicant is requesting will be entered directly into EdGrants as part of the application submission process.

For Guidance Documents regarding EdGrants, visit EdGrants: User Guides and Information.

Please note: It is up to the district to determine who they want to add as EdGrants Front Office users in order to submit grant application as well as payment request information. Please review the EdGrants: User Security Controls to make informed decisions regarding assigning your district level users.



Last Updated: September 15, 2017
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