CNMI ELIGIBLE FOR $12 MILLION U.S. ‘RECOVERY’ GRANT

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Would bring total received to $61 million

By Junhan B. Todeno SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Sept. 29, 2010) - U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has announced that an additional US$11,994,405 is now available for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. To date, the CNMI has received US$48,922,625 through the ARRA.

"With this application, CNMI provided us with basic information on what is working in their classrooms," said Duncan. "This data is a critical tool in helping us work together — with students, parents, teachers, administrators, community leaders and elected officials at every level — to improve education for CNMI’s students."

The application required applicants to provide data that will lay the foundation for reform including:

The application, requirements and summary of the requirements can all be found at: http://www.ed.gov/programs/statestabilization/applicant.html

In addition to the nearly US$12 million announced today, the ARRA has provided US$36,928,220 in funding through 7 different programs to the CNMI. Prior to today’s announcement, CNMI had received:

1. US$32,439,190 in State Fiscal Stabilization funds through their successful completion of part 1 of the application. The State Fiscal Stabilization Fund program is a new one-time appropriation of US$53.6 billion distributed directly to states to:

• Help stabilize state and local government budgets in order to minimize and avoid reductions in education and other essential public services.

• Help ensure that local educational agencies and public institutions of higher education have the resources to avert cuts and retain educational personnel and staff.

• Help support the modernization, renovation and repair of school and college facilities.

• Help advance reforms, from early learning through post-secondary education, to benefit students and families.

2. US$191,229 in IDEA funds. The ARRA provides US$12.2 billion in additional funding for Parts B and C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Part B of the IDEA provides funds to state educational agencies and local educational agencies to help them ensure that children with disabilities, including children aged three through five, have access to a free appropriate public education to meet each child’s unique needs and prepare him or her for further education, employment, and independent living. Part C of the IDEA provides funds to each state lead agency designated by the governor to implement statewide systems of coordinated, comprehensive, multidisciplinary interagency programs and make early intervention services available to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.

3. US$270,196 in Vocational Rehabilitation Funds. The ARRA provides US$540 million in additional funding for the Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants program. The VR State Grants program provides grants to states to help individuals with disabilities, especially those individuals with the most significant disabilities, prepare for, obtain, and maintain employment.

4. US$128,723 in Independent Living Services Funds. The ARRA provides US$140 million in additional funding for the Independent Living programs. The IL programs support services to individuals with significant disabilities and older individuals who are blind to maximize their leadership, empowerment, independence, and productivity, and to promote the integration and full inclusion of individuals with disabilities into the mainstream of American society.

5. US$1,797,780 in Consolidated Grants to Insular Areas grant, which combines a number of Elementary and Secondary Education Act grants. An insular area may elect to consolidate certain grant awards it receives. The insular area selects which program the awards are consolidated under and may use the consolidated funding received for purposes specified by that program’s requirements. ARRA funding provided under Title I, School Improvement, Educational Technology, and Education for Homeless Children and Youths is eligible to be consolidated.

6. US$2,093,209 in Pell Grants have been awarded to students attending schools in CNMI. Pell Grants are awarded based on student applications, not by state. The ARRA provides US$17.1 billion in additional funds for students across the country in need of Pell Grants. The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain post-baccalaureate students to promote access to postsecondary education. Students may use their grants at any one of approximately 5,400 participating postsecondary institutions. The additional funding allowed the Department of Education to raise the maximum Pell award from US$4,731 to US$5,350.

7. US$7,893 in Work Study funds have been awarded to students attending schools in CNMI. The ARRA provides an additional US$200 million to the Work-Study program, providing colleges and universities with additional funding to provide jobs to students to help with their college and living expenses.

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