Navigating Arts Education Funding: Updates on the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) program

As you may know from one of GIA’s previous webinars, “New Horizons in Arts Education: The Student Support and Academic Enrichment program,” the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) program provides key federal resources that can be used by States, school districts, and schools to provide access to and courses in the arts for our nation’s public school students. This program is part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and provides support for the following three areas of activities – well-rounded educational opportunities, which specifically includes the arts; safe and healthy students; and effective use of technology.

Under the most recent Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 appropriations bill providing funds for the U.S. Department of Education, SSAE received a $40 million increase, from $1.17 billion to $1.21 billion. This is on top of previous increases including a $70 million increase in FY2019 and a $700 million or 175% increase the program received in FY2018. Congress clearly has shown its support for this program by prioritizing increases while other programs are flat funded or receive more modest increases.

What does this mean for you as a funder group or organization engaged in arts education work?

SSAE grant funds flow to States and are then distributed to school districts based on their student need (share of Title I formula – another ESEA program). Within the SSAE program, districts may utilize funds within the “well-rounded education” bucket to develop and implement arts programs and activities, as well as improve access to the arts by working with a variety of partners, e.g. nonprofit organizations, community-based organizations, or other public / private entities with demonstrated records of success in implementing these activities.

Seize this opportunity now to leverage this increased funding available in the SSAE program by reaching out to your state department of education or local school districts to see how you can help schools use these funds to augment an existing arts program or to start a new effort. The increased funding provided in the last two appropriations bills means new funds will flow into virtually every school district under this program. These funds have not yet been obligated to be spent on a particular activity or need, and therefore represent a great opportunity to start or expand the use of these funds for the arts.

To learn more about how your State is using federal funds under ESSA to support arts education and programming and learn how you can engage, please visit GIA’s Guide on use of Federal Funds for Arts Education. To revisit GIA’s webinar on the SSAE program, including effective strategies to engage districts and engage in this work, click here.

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