Daisy Garcia Montoya
Missouri families will have the opportunity to receive a one-time grant to aid in educational expenses thanks to the new Close the Gap Grant program. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education alongside Odyssey, the platform that will administer the applications and help states connect families to education services and funds, announced applications for the grant of up to $1,500 would be open for a month, from September 20 through October 25, 2023.
The grant will be available for students who are Missouri residents enrolled in grades K-12 at a Missouri public school district or charter schools. Based on state statute, applications from families with an income level below 185% of the federal poverty level will be prioritized. Families with means at or above the poverty level may still receive funds if funds are still available after prioritized families have received the grants.
The grant applications will be administered on Odyssey’s website, missouri.withodyssey.com, where parents or guardians will need to create an Odyssey account in order to submit the application. Parents and guardians will be asked for their name, Social Security Number, current address, and contact information, as well as the student’s name, date of birth and school.
After submission, they will be reviewed for the eligibility criteria to see if it is approved. If the system cannot verify income levels or Missouri residency automatically, parents and guardians will be asked to submit additional information for verification purposes. If the application does not require a manual review, parents and guardians can expect to hear back within five business days of submission whether their application was approved via email.
If the application is accepted, and dependent on available funds, the grant funds awarded will be deposited into the Odyssey account used to submit the application.
Approved applicants should hear back about the amount they were granted by November 1. The amount granted will then be available to use within the Odyssey Marketplace for educational products and services or for reimbursement of allowable costs.
Among those allowable expenses includes tutoring, academic day or summer camps, computer equipment, educational resources, internet connectivity, and arts enrichment or arts related day and summer camps. All purchases of goods and services are exempt of sales tax, but grant funds will need to be used by June 1, 2024.
Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven said that the Close the Gap Grant program will serve as an additional support to increase education opportunities for Missouri students.
“In partnership with Odyssey, we are providing families a platform to search for and purchase the resources, tools, and enrichment their student needs to be successful inside and outside of the classroom,” Vandeven said.
“Every student deserves access to a high-quality education, and Odyssey will provide Missouri families and students with convenient and modern technology to quickly and easily access funds to get what they need to succeed,” said Joseph Connor, founder and CEO at Odyssey. “The pandemic brought on unimaginable challenges for our students and their learning. Missouri’s Close the Gap Program will help support the ongoing efforts to accelerate learning and get students back on track.”
For more information and application, visit: https://support.withodyssey.com/hc/en-us/categories/17977737767835-Missouri-Close-the-Gap