Most of Youngkin’s Learning Recovery Grants Went to Higher-Income Households

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, center, signs executive orders in the Governors conference room as Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears, left, Suzanne Youngkin, second from left, Attorney General Jason Miyares, second from right, and Secretary of the Commonwealth, Kay Cole James, right, look on at the Capitol, Jan. 15, 2022, in Richmond, Va. Virginia's Department of Education is conducting a review designed to root out critical race theory in schools. The review is the first thing Gov. Youngkin ordered after his inauguration and is expected to conclude later this month. Education officials have been reluctant to discuss what they've found thus far. While critics of the governor say critical race theory is a nonissue, others say there is ample evidence that the concepts have been embraced by administrators. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

By Emily Richardson

July 7, 2023

Youngkin’s K-12 Learning Recovery Grants, first announced in March, mostly flowed to households whose incomes exceed 300% of the Federal Poverty Level — for a family of four, that’s $90,000.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s $60 million initiative to “combat severe learning losses” associated with the pandemic primarily benefited higher-income households, according to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).

The grants came in two amounts, depending on household income, and were given out on a first-come, first-served basis: $3,000 for qualifying students whose family income does not exceed 300% of the Federal Poverty Level, and $1,500 for all other qualifying students. 

Grants were approved for 34,650 students, according to the VDOE. Of that number, only 8,247 students qualified for the $3,000 grant, while 26,403 received the $1,500 grant. 

The grant program was initially announced as a $30 million effort, but Youngkin doubled the funding for it to meet demand. The money for the grants draws from Virginia’s share of federal pandemic relief funds. 

The grants are intended to be used for tutoring services or other educational materials that might help improve students’ performance. 

In a March statement, Secretary of Education Aimee Rogstad Guidera cited Virginia students’ averages in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (The Nation’s Report Card) as a catalyst for the grant program.  The report showed that fourth grade reading scores in Virginia fell by 10 points since the last assessment in 2019, the most dramatic decrease in the country.

The grant program has also faced logistical challenges, with some parents claiming their requests for educational materials on ClassWallet (where the grant funds were deposited into parents’ accounts) were denied. According to VDOE, the department has assigned staff to work with families to resolve these issues.

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