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Empowering Parents Grant Program funds to hit accounts 'this week'

State lawmakers created the program during the 2022 legislative session to help families catch up on COVID learning loss.

IDAHO, USA — Qualifying Idaho families can expect to see Empowering Parents Grant Program funds hit their online accounts as early as this week, according to Idaho State Board of Education Chief Communication Officer Mike Keckler.

The first wave of payments will be awarded to families earning less than - or equal to - $60,000 of adjusted gross annual income. Families can receive $1,000 per K-12 student, but cannot receive more than $3,000 in total.

The program intends to address learning loss from the COVID pandemic. National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores show learning loss is real in Idaho and across the country.

The money will go into an online wallet where the state will regulate where the money can be spent. The payments can be used to purchase computers, software, tutoring, internet access, curriculum, and educational fees including Advanced Placement courses.

The program is funded through federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). It totals $50 million in total.

After the first wave of applicants, people earning less than - or equal to - $75,000 of adjusted gross annual income will qualify. The program will open up to everyone else for a third wave of payments if funds are remaining, according to Keckler.

The program has received 26,000 total applications. The state must verify each applicant's income and claimed students one-by-one to ensure the funds are not misused.

"It has taken probably more time than initially anticipated, but we have made progress and we're ready to go with it," Keckler said.

Keckler cannot confirm when all qualifying applicants from the first wave of payments will receive their funds.

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