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Governor Reynolds designates $11.5 million in COVID-19 relief to support mental health services in pre-K-12 schools, help more Iowans retrain for in-demand careers

Date: Thursday, April 15, 2021

"GEER II funds"DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Education today announced that more than $11.5 million in federal relief funding is available to assist public school districts in providing mental health support and other wraparound services to pre-K-12 students, and support community college efforts in expanding programming to help more Iowans earn short-term credentials needed for in-demand careers.

The $11.5 million is Iowa’s share of more than $1.3 billion in discretionary funds provided through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER II Fund), which is part of the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act passed in December 2020. Governors in each state were granted a share of discretionary dollars to address critical needs resulting from the COVID-19 crisis.

“While the true cost of this pandemic is yet unknown, we’re already aware of the devastating mental health effects on our young people,” said Gov. Reynolds. “Expanding mental health services in our schools is critical to their overall recovery. When we care for the whole child, we secure better outcomes for them and their families.”

The funding announced today will support the following initiatives:

  • Up to $8.67 million in competitive grants to help pre-K-12 school districts coordinate and deliver mental health services and wraparound support to students, youth mental health first aid training and implementation, and suicide prevention services and programming.
  • Up to $2.89 million in competitive grants for Iowa’s community colleges to supplement the state’s GAP Tuition Assistance Program, which will help more Iowans whose jobs were impacted by the pandemic to enroll in short-term training and credential programs leading to high-demand jobs in fields like advanced manufacturing, commercial truck driving, information technology, health care and welding.

“Iowa was not immune to the economic cost of the COVID 19 pandemic and it’s vital to our continued recovery that we offer opportunities for Iowans to retrain and gain the skills needed for rewarding, high-demand careers that promote job growth and fuel our state’s economy,” Gov. Reynolds continued.

“These additional resources will help schools expand services to address growing social-emotional-behavioral health needs and support the overall well-being of students affected by the pandemic,” said Ann Lebo, director of the Iowa Department of Education. “In addition, increasing financial assistance through the GAP Tuition Assistance Program will help more Iowans gain the skills needed for good-paying, high-demand jobs in Iowa, both today and in the future.”

Last fall, Iowa received $26.2 million through the first round of GEER funding within the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Gov. Reynolds designated to expand broadband access and increase internet connectivity for students for the 2020-21 school year.

More information on the process for school districts and community colleges to apply for this round of funding will be provided soon.