The Stronger Connections Grant Explained: How K-12 School Districts Can Apply for Funds to Support Student Safety and Wellness 

An illustration showing various education professionals stood beside a giant monitor displaying an application page for the Stronger Connections Grant

Each year, there are dozens of grant opportunities available to public and private schools across the U.S. These include grants administered by the Department of Education, as well as those offered by non-profit organizations, private foundations, education associations, and for-profit corporations. Among the many sources of grant funding currently available, the Stronger Connections Grant awards funds to K-12 school districts to support student safety and wellness.

The Stronger Connections Grant earmarks funds for the implementation of activities and programs that support early identification of student mental health concerns, bullying prevention, and more. The $1 billion in funding was distributed to state education agencies (SEAs) in each of the 50 states, as well as five U.S. territories, in September 2022.

As of the publishing of this article, 25 states had already opened and closed applications. However, there is still opportunity for districts to apply in the remaining 25 states and five U.S. territories that are either accepting applications now or have yet to open their application process.

Read on to learn:

  • If your state is still accepting applications
  • What student safety and wellness programs are eligible for grant funding
  • How to apply for available Stronger Connections Grant funds

What is the Stronger Connections Grant?

The Stronger Connections Grant is the funding available through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), which was signed into U.S. law in June 2022. The BSCA authorized $1 billion in funding to states to support safe and healthy students under Title IV, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as ESEA. 

The BSCA funding available via the Stronger Connections Grant program is limited to activities detailed in Section 4108 of Title IV, Part A, of ESEA. The Department of Education designated BSCA to Section 4108 specifically to distinguish it from the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants program, also available under Title IV, Part A, of ESEA, which funds a broader range of allowable activities.

How can the funds be used?

Funding available through the Stronger Connections Grant is allocated specifically to activities that support safe and healthy students as defined under Section 4108 of Title IV, Part A, of ESEA.

Some of the allowable uses of Stronger Connections Grant funds include:

  • Evidence-based drug and violence prevention activities and programs
  • School-based mental health services, including early identification of mental health symptoms, drug use, and violence
  • Bullying and harassment prevention activities and programs
  • Programs and activities that enhance effective learning skills essential for school readiness and academic success

For a comprehensive listing of the allowable uses of Stronger Connection funding, visit this web page (also shown below). Locate the section titled “Subpart 1—Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants,” then click on the SEC. 4108 link.

A screenshot of the website referenced in the above paragraph with a red highlight and arrow around the relevant link on the site

How are Stronger Connections Grant funds awarded?

Stronger Connections Grant funds are to be distributed through competitive subgrants by SEAs. The funds are to be awarded to “high need” local educational agencies, or LEAs, as determined on a state by state basis by each SEA. 

The U.S. Department of Education announced the Stronger Connections Grant allocations by state and awarded the funds to SEAs in September 2022. Each state’s education agency has developed or is developing its own application process.

Is funding still available in my state?

The table below shows the states that are currently accepting applications as of July 31, 2023, as well as those states that have not yet opened up the application process. Applications for the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands are also still pending at the time of publishing. These territories are not required to award funds competitively or define “high need” LEAs.

Many of the states that have not yet opened up applications are still hosting “stakeholder engagement” sessions and requesting public comment on things like grant program design and how to define “high need” LEAs. If your state is not listed here, it may have already completed and closed the application process.

Stronger Connections Grant Applications
Open and Not Yet Open by State
Current as of July 31, 2023

An image of a text table displaying which US states have applications open and the respective application deadline dates

How can our district apply for Stronger Connections Grant funding?

If you’re in one of the states listed above, you may be eligible for funding. Determining eligibility is just step one, though. Making sure you understand the allowable uses of funds and navigating the application process takes time, not to mention identifying the specific programs or activities to implement. In many cases, the applications are also open for a relatively short time frame, so a quick response is key.

Securly is here to help

We’ve done the legwork for you and are maintaining a current list of the states that are accepting Stronger Connections Grant applications at this link.

If your state is accepting applications, you’ll find a fact sheet with the pertinent details about how to apply. We’re also keeping a close watch on those states that have yet to open up applications so we can quickly compile fact sheets as soon as details become available. 

Visit this link for the latest information on applying for the Stronger Connections Grant in your state.

Securly helps thousands of K-12 school districts support their students’ safety and wellness. Learn more

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