Straight A Fund Frequently Asked Questions

General

Application Questions

Scoring

Use of Funds

Grant Period


General

    Who can apply for a Straight A Fund grant?

    The Straight A Program accepts grant applications from city, local, exempted village, and joint vocational school districts, educational service centers, community schools, STEM schools, college-preparatory boarding schools, individual school buildings, education consortia, institutions of higher education.  Private entities may participate in a grant project by partnering with any of these educational entities. County Boards of Developmental Disabilities may apply as a member of a consortium with a district they serve as the lead applicant.

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    How much can I apply for?

    Individual applicants and partnerships may apply for up to $1 million in funding. Educational consortia may apply for up to $15 million. Applicants may request additional funds, however amounts above these maximums must be recommended by the Superintendent of Public Instruction to the Controlling Board.

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    Are academic need and financial need a consideration in scoring or award?

    No.

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    Can I submit more than one grant application?

    Yes. There is no limit on the number of grant applications per applicant. However, each grant application will be scored and reviewed independently for sustainability and significant advancement in student achievement, spending reduction in the five-year forecast, and/or utilization of a greater share of resources in the classroom.

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    When will I know if my Straight A Fund application is approved?

    The Straight A Program Governing Board will issue a decision of “yes”, “no”, “hold” or “edit” for every application it receives no later than 90 days after receiving the application.  The Ohio Department of Education will notify all grant applicants of the final decision via CCIP.

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    What happens after my Straight A Fund grant application is approved?

    Once your grant application receives final approval, you are required to enter into a grant agreement with the Straight A Program Governing Board. No Straight A Fund grant dollars will be awarded until this grant agreement is completed and signed by both parties. Straight A Program staff will provide successful grant applicants with a template grant agreement which includes a variety of provisions required by law. This template grant agreement will include a provision specifying that funding will be returned to the Governing Board if the applicant fails to follow the terms of the grant agreement.

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    What kinds of innovative projects can I use a Straight A Fund grant for?

    Eligible educational entities can apply for a Straight A Fund grant for almost any project designed to achieve significant advancement in student achievement, spending reduction in the five-year fiscal forecast, and/or utilization of a greater share of resources in the classroom. However, as lottery funds, Straight A Fund grants may only be used to support elementary, secondary, vocational, and/or special education.

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    Are only school districts eligible to apply? Can universities apply in a consortium with other educational entities (school districts, other universities, corporate partners)?

    Institutions of higher education are eligible applicants for the Straight A Fund. However, the enacting legislation does not allow institutions of higher education to form an education consortium with other eligible applicants like school districts or community schools. As such, institutions of higher education that would like to participate should partner with other eligible applicants like school districts or community schools to share ideas and provide services related to the development and implementation of a grant project.

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    Can ESCs be the lead applicant for a consortium?

    Yes. An ESC may be the lead applicant for a consortium during round 2 because of legislative changes (HB 342). When applying as a lead applicant for a consortium, a client district of the ESC needs to also be a member of the consortium.  An ESC can partner with school districts, school buildings, community schools, or STEM schools that form a consortium to provide services under a partnership agreement.

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    Can an institution of higher education apply as a lead applicant?

    Yes. As an eligible applicant in the enacting legislation, an institution of higher education may apply as the lead applicant on any application in which it is the only applicant or it partners with only private entities. However, as lottery funds, Straight A Fund grants may only be used to support elementary, secondary, vocational, and/or special education.

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    Can a chartered nonpublic school apply for a Straight A Fund grant?

    No. The enacting legislation does not allow the Straight A Program to provide grants to chartered nonpublic schools.

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    Can a chartered nonpublic school partner with an eligible Straight A Fund grant applicant?

    Yes. Chartered nonpublic schools, as private entities, may partner with any eligible applicant to develop and execute a Straight A Fund project within a public school.

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    Can a management company or community school sponsor apply on behalf of a community school?

    No. Because a community school management company is not an eligible applicant, it may not apply on behalf of a community school. However, a management company may partner with a community school to develop and execute a Straight A Fund grant application.

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    Can the application originate from a non-profit organization which services schools?

    No. Nonprofit organizations, as private entities, may only partner with eligible applicants on a grant application because private entities are not eligible applicants. Because all grant applications must be submitted by an eligible applicant, private entities may not submit the grant application. However, non-profit organizations may provide support and services related to developing a grant proposal, as long as an eligible applicant is the lead applicant when the application is submitted.

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    Can a non-profit organization which services school districts in Ohio, apply for the grant, in partnership with the schools that it serves?

    Yes. The schools would be the lead applicant, either individually or as part of a consortium, and the non-profit organization will partner with the school or education consortium.

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    May a private boarding school apply for an individual grant, or would an application with our local public school system be required?

    Private boarding schools, as private entities, must partner with an eligible applicant. Eligible applicants include city, local, exempted village, and joint vocational school districts, educational service centers, community schools, college-preparatory boarding schools, individual school buildings, education consortia, and institutions of higher education. Therefore, the private boarding school would be required to partner with one of these eligible applicants on any grant application.

     

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    Can an individual teacher apply for funds to be used just in his/her class room?

    Teachers should work with their building principal or superintendent as well as the treasurer to prepare and submit an application for Straight A Funding. Ultimately, the application will be submitted by a school building, school district, or community school application on behalf of the teacher.

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    What is a partnership?

    A partnership is an association between a grant applicant and educational stakeholder(s) in which the stakeholder agrees to provide human and material assets or access to academic and administrative resources to the grant applicant to develop or execute a Straight A Fund grant application. However, in a partnership, only the grant applicant is responsible for ensuring the grant is developed and executed according to the terms of the grant agreement with the Straight A Program Governing Board. Grant applicant partners are responsible only to the extent provided in their Partnership Agreement with the grant applicant.

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    Can I partner with multiple schools buildings and/or school districts on different straight A grants?

    Yes.

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    Can an applicant be involved with one or more partnerships and consortiums?

    Yes. There is not a limit to the number of partnerships or consortiums a school or district forms. The important thing to remember is that each application will be judged individually on how the project proposal meets the goals of the Straight A Fund and is sustainable.

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    Can an institution of higher education partner with other eligible applicants?

    Yes. An institution of higher education may partner with school buildings, school districts, educational service centers, community schools, STEM schools, or education consortia to provide services in support of a grant project under a partnership agreement.

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    Can a partner be a non-Ohio entity?

    Yes.

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    What is an education consortium?

    An education consortium is an association of two or more school districts, school buildings, community schools, or STEM schools, ESCs and County Boards of DD pooling resources to share human and material assets and link academic and administrative resources with the objective of participating in the development and execution of a Straight A Fund grant application. A grant application submitted by an education consortium uses the shared resources of its members to achieve the goals of the grant application through cooperative purchasing, course sharing, professional development, information technology integration, and/or faculty and staff networking. Unlike a partnership, each education consortium member is responsible for ensuring the Straight A Fund grant application is developed and executed according to the terms of the grant agreement with the Straight A Program Governing Board. Like individual grant applicants, an education consortium can partner with educational stakeholder(s) to accomplish the goals of the grant application.

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    Can an institution of higher education form a consortium with other eligible applicants?

    No. The enacting legislation does not allow institutions of higher education to form a consortium with other eligible applicants. Only school buildings, school districts, community schools, and STEM schools may form a consortium and act as the lead applicant for a consortium.

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    How do I know if my grant is self-sustaining?

    Self-sustaining means maintaining or able to maintain itself once commenced.

    However, if a project needs increased ongoing spending to maintain significant gains in student achievement, spending reduction, or classroom resource utilization, grant applicants must demonstrate that ongoing spending is offset by verifiable, credible, permanent spending reductions. This means for every dollar of increased ongoing spending on the project, there must be a dollar of reduced ongoing spending elsewhere in the grantee’s budget. The minimum standard for sustainability is a result of the grant dollars being cost neutral.

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Application Questions

    Is there a total page or word limit for the project proposal?

    Applications will be submitted through the Ohio Department of Education’s electronic grants management system, CCIP. The CCIP limits applicant responses for each question to 4,000 characters for questions 8 (part 2), 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 23 and 25.  Questions 2, 8 (part 1), 17, 18, 19, 22 and 24 are limited to 2000 characters.  
     

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    How do I access the grant application in CCIP if I am not a school building, school district, ESC, community school, or STEM school?

    Institutions of higher education need to apply for a SAFE account to access the grant application in CCIP. However, private entities will not receive SAFE accounts, but can still provide application assistance to the applicants they partner with using the application materials posted on the Straight A Fund website.

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    Can an application be saved and worked on over multiple days?

    Yes. You can save an application and make edits over these two weeks grant period. However, it is important to remember that once finalized and submitted by your Superintendent, the application cannot be returned for further edits.

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    Can an application be returned for edits after it has been submitted?

    A school or district preparing multiple applications should ensure that ALL applications are finalized before it is reviewed and signed off by the treasurer and Superintendent. Once the applications are submitted to ODE by the Superintendent, they cannot be returned for edits.

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    Are local matching funds required, and if not, would matching funds improve the application score?

    There is no requirement for local matching funds to receive a Straight A Fund grant. Because local matching funds are not a requirement, whether local matching funds improve the application score of a grant application will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

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    Do all members of a consortium need to submit an intent to apply or can one member submit for all?

    For planning purposes, the Straight A Fund administrative staff would like to see one "intent to apply" for each grant application. In the case of an education consortium, we only need an "intent to apply" from the consortium's lead applicant.

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    If a district applies for multiple grants, does each grant application reflect the other?

    No. Each grant application is reviewed individually. If changes/conflicts exist because multiple grants were approved, these will be addressed in the grant agreement process.

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    If there are several grant applications from one eligible applicant, should the Financial Impact Table reflect all of the grant applications?

    Because there is no guarantee the Governing Board will award any one grant, the Financial Impact Table should only reflect the information from the project related to that particular grant application. However, before signing the final grant agreement, the Governing Board may request and review updated financial information based on all the grants actually awarded.

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    For a consortium, does the lead applicant show all of the funding for the grant in their tab of the Financial Impact Table?

    Each member of the consortium uses a tab in the Financial Impact Table to input each individual member's financial information. The lead applicant then describes the overall budget for the entire consortium in the implementation tab of the Straight A Fund grant application.

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    Should letters from stakeholders be included in the application?

    Letters of support from stakeholders may not be included in the grant application.

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    Do partners have a responsibility for forms in the Financial Impact Table?

    No.

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    Can I use the Financial Impact Table even if I do not produce a five year forecast?

    Yes. The financial impact table includes an ESC tab and a non-traditional tab, which can be used by applicants such as institutions of higher education or Boards of DD, which do not produce five-year forecasts. The purpose of the financial impact table is to illustrate the change that a Straight A Fund grant will have on an applicant’s finances and allow both the applicant and the scorer to demonstrate and analyze the changes that will occur in order to sustain any ongoing costs associated with the project proposal.

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    Do we have to fill out both the Financial Impact Table AND the CCIP Budget Grid?

    Yes.

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    Do all grant proposals have to show verifiable, credible, permanent spending reductions?

    No. Some grant projects may be able to achieve the requirements for the Straight A Fund without increased ongoing spending. Straight A Fund grants projects only need to show verifiable, credible, permanent spending reductions when the project will result in increased ongoing spending.

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    Does a district have to have a Teacher Association agreement in order to apply?

    No. There is no requirement for the collective bargaining unit to sign off on a Straight A Fund grant application. However, if your grant application affects a term or condition of employment subject to a collective bargaining agreement with a union, applicants may need to coordinate with the union to demonstrate sustainability. Additionally, applicants will be asked to identify project proposal stakeholders in the implementation section of the application.

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    Will grants be required to have an external evaluator or will ODE provide evaluation services?

    There is not a requirement for applicants to use an external evaluator, but you may wish to contact one if you need too. ODE will not provide evaluation services, however you may be required to provide data for the overall evaluation of the Straight A Fund if you submit an application.

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    Can a grant be approved for a project that has been started? Is it likely for a grant to be approved for an endeavor that has been started, but needs further funding to continue?

    There is no prohibition in the enacting legislation on a Straight A Fund grant funding a project that has already been started. All Straight A Fund grant applications are scored based on sustainability. Sustainability includes a variety of concepts, one of which is fiscal sustainability. The enacting legislation requires that any grant project that results in increased, ongoing spending must offset that spending with verifiable, permanent spending reductions. Whether a grant project requires these spending offsets will not make it more or less likely a grant will be approved as long as the applicant can show the verifiable, permanent spending reductions required.

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    What is meant by the third goal of the Straight A Fund "Utilization of a greater share of resources in the classroom"?

    Utilization of a greater share of resources in the classroom means increasing the percentage of school funding that goes to the classroom as opposed to administration, maintenance, facilities, etc.
     

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    What are some examples of benchmarks?

    Benchmarks are dependent on the goal(s) of the grant proposal. It is hard to give examples not knowing what you intend to apply for. However, such benchmarks may be student achievement data, teacher evaluation, high school graduation rates, gap closing, etc.

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Scoring

    Do small districts have as much of a chance to be awarded a grant as larger districts?

    Yes, proposals will be evaluated on their merits, not on the size of their districts.

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    What happens if one or more members of a consortium do not meet the requirements for receiving a grant from the Straight A Fund?

    Each member of the consortium is held accountable to all the requirements of the Straight A Fund including the goals, sustainability, and substantial value and lasting impact. Therefore, if any one applicant within a consortium fails to meet these requirements, the consortium as a whole would not satisfy these requirements and the grant application will be rejected.

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Use of Funds

    Are there limitations on funds? Are they to be only used for materials and support services or can they be used for building improvements?

    The Ohio Constitution restricts the use of Straight A Fund dollars (because these dollars are lottery funds) to spending for elementary, secondary, vocational, and special education. Additionally, the enacting legislation requires projects achieve significant advancement in student achievement, spending reduction in the five-year fiscal forecast, utilization of a greater share of resources in the classroom and/or the use of shared service delivery model to increase efficiency and effectiveness. Accordingly, Straight A Fund dollars could be spent on building improvements, as long as those improvements relate to elementary, secondary, vocational, and/or special education and achieve significant advancement in student achievement, spending reduction in the five-year fiscal forecast, and/or utilization of a greater share of resources in the classroom.

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    Can we supplant money?

    Federal law prohibits recipients of federal grant dollars from replacing state/agency funds with federal funds. Because the Straight A Fund requires grantees to offset increased ongoing spending with verifiable, credible, permanent spending reductions, it is unlikely federal grant dollars could be used to replace Straight A Fund grant dollars.

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Grant Period

    Can same applicant apply for both FY14 and FY15 funding?

    Yes. There is no prohibition in the enacting legislation on an eligible applicant applying for a Straight A Fund grant in FY 14 and FY 15. However, keep in mind that each grant application will be reviewed independently for sustainability, substantial value, and lasting impact.

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    If you get FY14 funds, are you less likely to get FY15 funds?

    Receiving FY14 funds will have no impact on whether an eligible applicant will receive FY15 funds. However, this may change for the FY15 grant application process if the enacting legislation or grant application process is altered by the Ohio General Assembly or the Straight A Fund Governing Board respectively.

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    Straight A Fund appropriations are for two years. Do two applications need to be made, or if you are successful in being awarded a grant does it extend over two years?

    No. Each Straight A Fund grant will be awarded for one year. However, you may apply for a new grant in the following year.

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    Are there any reporting requirements for funded grantees?

    Reporting requirements for any funded grant project will be subject to the terms of the grant agreement. The grant agreement includes the content of the applicant’s proposal, the project’s deliverables and a timetable for completion, and conditions for receiving grant funding. Depending on the nature of the grant proposal and terms of this grant agreement, the Governing Board of the Straight may request additional information in the form of data, surveys, interviews, focus groups and any other related data.

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    Are there any fiscal reporting requirements for funded grantees?

    All grant agreements must include a provision specifying that funding will be returned to the Straight A Fund Governing Board if the Auditor of State determines the funded grantee failed to implement the grant project according to the terms of the grant agreement. Additionally, because the enacting legislation requires that all grant projects must be self-sustaining, the Straight A Fund administrative staff will periodically review financial reporting data from funded grantees to ensure any increased ongoing spending is offset by verifiable, credible, permanent spending reductions.

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Last Modified: 4/7/2014 1:05:15 PM