North Carolina General Assembly Appropriates $7M for Student Support Services
By Book Harvest and Student U
The North Carolina General Assembly has passed a budget that includes $7 million in state funds allocated to the Extended Learning and Integrated Student Supports (ELISS) Grant Program. This decision marks a victory for North Carolina students and families, and the organizations that support them with high-quality programs offered during school hours and in out-of-school time.
According to Michelle Price, Executive Director of Student U in Durham: "This renewal of state appropriations for ELISS will ensure that important services many community organizations provide for students and families from birth to college or career and beyond will not be disrupted. Thank you to all of the legislators and staff involved in making this possible."
Nineteen organizations from across the State of North Carolina, including Student U, received ELISS funding in the most recent grant cycle, serving over 40,000 students. Their programs reached students in 15 counties, from Buncombe to New Hanover and Robeson to Pitt counties.
Another grantee in the most recent grant cycle was Book Harvest. Mary Mathew, the organization’s Director of Advocacy, shares “Our organizations are excited to witness how future grantees will use this renewed investment to expand support for students, particularly in the wake of the pandemic which left significant negative effects on many students' learning and mental health.” The funding also helps to support school districts that continue to face shortages in staffing, dollars, and resources.
The outcomes of ELISS programs are strong. Student U, for example, has increased college graduation rates among first-generation college students participating in its program to 55%, compared to a national average of 11%. (Pell Institute, 2008). Book Harvest provided 39,299 books to 5,122 students to take home and read over the summer months, and to keep forever. Parents reported that their children spent more time reading and were more confident in their reading abilities. Considered together with the outcomes of other past grantees, such as Communities In Schools, a Boys and Girls Club and YMCA, the impact of ELISS for North Carolina students is multiplied.
As this legislative session comes to a close, the need for additional student services and resources to sustain this work does not end. Additional and ongoing funding and effective policies are essential to ensure that every North Carolina child can flourish.
We are immensely grateful to the legislators, including State Senate President Berger, Senator Michael Lee, Senator Natalie Murdock, Senator Graig Meyer and many others who served as champions for ELISS, as well as their legislative staffers. The impact of this investment will be felt by thousands of students, and will benefit all North Carolinians for years to come.
The list of organizations that will receive ELISS funding in the next grant cycle is yet to be known and will be determined by a competitive application process; but we are confident that those that do become ELISS grantees will use these public dollars well, and will continue this essential and transformative work with our students. We look forward to our continued collaboration with the North Carolina General Assembly, community-based organizations, schools, our students, and families, as we work together to create a brighter future for North Carolina.