Oklahoma City, OK (STL.News) Governor Kevin Stitt announced today the Bridge the Gap Digital Wallet grant program is changing its eligibility criteria in an effort to further expand the grant funds to Oklahoma families in need. The grant will open up funds to families who were previously denied, and new applications are being accepted as well if families think they now qualify based on the new guidelines.
Digital Wallet is set to provide $1,500 grants to more than 5,000 low-income Oklahoma families. Families must live in Oklahoma and have at least one child in K-12th grade during the 2020-21 school year, regardless of school type (public, private, homeschool, etc. are all eligible). Grant funds can be used to purchase curriculum content, tutoring services and/or technology.
Previous eligibility criteria gave priority to families who made at or below 100% of the federal poverty level. New criteria will open up the grant eligibility. Now, families who make at or below 185% of the federal poverty line will be eligible to apply. This is the same income level used to determine eligibility for free/reduced school lunches.
“We are pleased to be able to provide this support to Oklahoma families who are facing exceptionally hard times,” said Gov. Stitt. “Raising the income eligibility will allow Digital Wallet to benefit more Oklahoma families in need. In these challenging times every Oklahoma student deserves access to the tools and resources needed to succeed.”
This grant is funded by The Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The grant awarding is being overseen by Every Kid Counts Oklahoma, an education focused nonprofit in Oklahoma City.
“We have heard from many families who have already received the grant about what this support has meant to them,” said Ryan Walters, Oklahoma Secretary of Education and CEO of Every Kid Counts Oklahoma. “This grant bridges the gap and can be the reason a child is able to have a device to access learning materials while at home or purchase supplemental materials to assist them in their learning. We are excited to continue working to get these critical funds into the hands of more Oklahoma families.”
Digital Wallet funds are integrated with ClassWallet to connect families to over 30 education materials, supplies, technology and book e-commerce vendors, including Office Depot, Staples, Scholastic, School Specialty, Really Good Stuff and more. Families can purchase what they need for their children using funds in their ClassWallet digital wallet account.
Funds are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis and will only be given up to the max of about 5,000 grant slots. Families who are eligible under the new guidelines are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.
If a family has already applied, they do not need to take any action. All applications will be re-reviewed and if the family now qualifies, they will receive an approval email in about two weeks.
Visit everykidcountsok.org/digitalwallet to apply, learn more, read FAQs and contact EKCO. The deadline to submit an application is Feb. 15, 2021. Families will have until Mar. 31, 2021 to use the entirety of their grant funds.