Since 2001, $29.9 million dollars has been allocated by the Florida Legislature for the School District Education Foundation Matching Grants Program which has leveraged more than double that in private matching dollars.
After raising funds from business, individual, civic organization and foundation contributions, each local education foundation aligned with Florida’s 67 county-wide school districts can access the matching funds annually through the CFEF. Funds can be used in six programmatic areas determined by local education foundation leaders as priorities for advancing student achievement in Florida: Increasing Graduation Rates; Teaching Quality; Literacy; Low Performing Students; STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Education and Career/Technical Education.
Because the projects funded are "home grown” with input from local school system leaders, they allow education foundations to address needs and goals specific to their community. They avoid the pitfall of imposing a "one size fits all” mentality by prescribing a particular program or approach. This system fosters greater private-sector involvement, creative problem solving and a sense of ownership by everyone involved.
One-on-one tutoring for struggling second grade readers, support for low-income students to complete career/technical education industry certification programs, tuition assistance for paraprofessionals seeking to become teachers, and mentoring programs targeting at-risk students are all examples of matching grant funded projects. For the 2013-14 school year alone, nearly 1.4 million students in 53 counties were directly impacted through 124 matching grant funded projects.
Florida corporations from all sectors of our economy have increased their commitment to local foundation initiatives, making the School District Education Foundation Matching Grants Program a highly effective public-private partnership that is held up as a model of success for other states seeking greater resources for their students in critical academic areas.
The Legislature recognizes the matching grants program as a proven strategy for increasing private-sector interest, investment and involvement in public schools. For the coming year, 2014-2015, the State Legislature has appropriated $4.5 million to continue this powerful incentive for Florida’s local education foundations.