Grant Details

CARES Act: Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) (Illinois)

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    Funder Type

    State Government

    IT Classification

    B - Readily funds technology as part of an award


    Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)


    This emergency block grant empowers Governors to decide how best to meet the current needs of students, schools (including charter schools and non-public schools), postsecondary institutions, and other education-related organizations in their State so that faculty continue to teach and students continue to learn. Governors are encouraged to focus these resources on ensuring that all students continue to learn most likely through some form of remote learning. Grant funds awarded under the Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund may be used to—

    1. provide emergency support through grants to local educational agencies that the State educational agency deems have been most significantly impacted by coronavirus to support the ability of such local educational agencies to continue to provide educational services to their students and to support the on-going functionality of the local educational agency; 
    2. provide emergency support through grants to institutions of higher education serving students within the State that the Governor determines have been most significantly impacted by coronavirus to support the ability of such institutions to continue to provide educational services and support the on-going functionality of the institution; and
    3. provide support to any other institution of higher education, local educational agency, or education-related entity within the State that the Governor deems essential for carrying out emergency educational services to students for authorized activities described in section 18003(d)(1) of the CARES Act or the Higher Education Act, the provision of child care and early childhood education, social and emotional support, and the protection of education-related jobs.

    A Governor must award funds to eligible entities (i.e., LEAs, IHEs, and education-related entities) within one year of receiving the State's GEER Fund allocation from the Department, although the Governor should use every effort to award funds to eligible entities on an expedited basis to address student needs. Subgrants should be prioritized for LEAs and IHEs within the State that have been most significantly impacted by coronavirus in order to support their ability to continue to provide educational services to students and to support their on-going functionality.

    • In providing support to IHEs, the Governor determines those IHEs that are most significantly impacted by coronavirus.
    • In providing support to LEAs, the State educational agency (SEA) determines those LEAs that are most significantly impacted by coronavirus. The Department encourages SEAs to consult with the Governor when making this determination.

    A Governor may also award funds to any other LEA, IHE, or education-related entity within the State that the Governor deems essential to carry out emergency educational services to students, provide childcare and early childhood education, provide social and emotional support, and protect education-related jobs.


    History of Funding

    The state's GEER allocation was awarded as follows:

    • Illinois Board of Higher Education - $30,298,879 total, further distributed as:
      • 12 State Universities - $27,023,879 (see
      • Emergency Fund - $3,000,000 (see
      • Illinois Math & Science Academy - $250,000
      • University Center of Lake County - $25,000
    • Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) - $18,048,879 total, further distributed as:
      • 48 Illinois Community Colleges - $17,832,837 (see
      • East St. Louis Higher Education Center - $200,000
      • ICCB - $16,042
    • Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) - $60,149,999 total, further distributed as:
      • Digital Divide - awards will be listed at once decisions are made.
        • Competitive Grants for Devices - $32,500,000
        • Competitive Grants for Connectivity - $7,500,000
        • Competitive Grants for Remote Learning - $7,500,000
      • Early Childhood Education - $10,000,000
      • ISBE Student Care Department - $2,500,000
      • Abraham Presidential Library Museum - $149,999

    Additional Information

    Governor J.B. Pritzker has partnered with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to have it serve as the fiscal agent for GEER funding. ISBE will be the awarding agency for Early Childhood through grades 12 Education. The Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) will be the awarding agency for Community Colleges and, lastly, the Illinois Board of Higher Education will be the awarding agency for State Universities and the Illinois Math and Science Academy. Funding will be distributed across the state as follows:

    Higher Education (State Universities) - The state has allocated funds to the state's public universities based on a formula that distributed more per student to those schools that had the highest concentration of Pell students. Each public university will receive an award based on its proportion and number of Pell students. Funds must be used to provide supports for students already at risk of not completing their degree — low income, first-generation, students of color, or rural students — either first-time freshmen or returning students. Institutions will be asked to submit a plan to demonstrate how they will use the funds to achieve the GEER Fund's goals. It is anticipated all grant agreements for funds allocated by formula to public universities will be finalized in July 2020.

    The emergency fund of $3 million will also be made available to public and private not-for-profit Illinois colleges and universities. Institutions will be selected based on demonstrated need and a plan for serving students at risk of not completing or not enrolling due to coronavirus. Funding should  support targeted initiatives to enroll and retain underrepresented, first-generation, and high-need students. Additional details are available at

    Some funding has been set aside for institutions outside the traditional model, including the University Center of Lake County (a joint university collaboration) and the Illinois Math and Science Academy (a residential public high school for sophomores through seniors). Both have experienced significant losses due to the closure of their facilities as part of the COVID-19 pandemic response.

    Community Colleges - Every Community College within the state is expected to receive a GEER allocation. Colleges that have a higher percentage of Pell students will receive more per student. The goal of the allocation methodology is to provide equitable funding based on each institution's student need. Additionally, we also considered how dependent the college is on the state and student tuition for revenue. The higher the percentage of revenue from state and tuition, the greater the share of the per-student amount. ICCB allocations for GEER funds awarded to IHEs have been prepared and grant agreements will be prepared commencing June 16, 2020. Awards will be made by July 1, 2020. Additional details are available at Again, some funding has been set aside for an institution outside the traditional model, the East St. Louis Higher Education Center, and ICCB has also retained a small portion for the administration of all GEER funds.

    K-12 and Early Childhood Education - GEER funds are utilized to provide the greatest likelihood that students from PK through college are able to access high-quality experiences via remote learning, that the continuity of learning of students is not compromised due to lack of devices or connectivity, and that supports are provided to families, educators, and districts. ISBE will utilize competitive grants, contractual agreements, and formula grants to distribute GEER funding.

    • Early Childhood Education: A central focus for the use of GEER funds in Early Childhood is to support high-quality remote learning and intensive supports for parents. Those programs in areas with the greatest needs, as determined by the state's Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity's list of Disproportionately Impacted Areas (DIAs), will receive priority for funding. These DIAs are those with higher than average rates of infection and high rates of at least one measure of family poverty/low income. The GEER funds will support a variety of programs and approaches that include but are not limited to, promoting and supporting the social and emotional development of children though the Pyramid Model, increasing the infant/early childhood workforce in the area of mental health consultation, and increasing parent access to supports and resources via a text messaging system developed by the University of Chicago. Funding will be distributed as a one-time funding opportunity for through the state's Early Childhood Block Grant wherein currently funded programs can apply to receive:
      • Developmentally appropriate hands-on remote learning activity materials that will provide parents with the support they need to continue children's learning remotely within their natural environment. Activities are aligned to the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards.
      • Family resources and support for Prevention Initiative remote home visiting services.
      • The purchase of technology.
      • Stipends for staff members who work beyond contractual hours.
      • Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation.
      • Personal protective equipment and supplies
    • K-12 Education: GEER funding is supporting the work of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum as it digitizes primary and secondary sources for use by teachers and students in remote learning environments. These digitized resources will be available to schools across Illinois. Additionally, GEER funds are supporting two other projects that support districts, communities, and educators. First, GEER funding will support operations of the Student Cares Department at ISBE. ISBE will use this funding to put in place a system that affords all districts access to resources required to comply with extant regulatory requirements as well as those situations that occur as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes, but is not limited to, providing technical assistance to districts and Boards of Education as well as developing and delivering social-emotional professional learning for districts, schools, and teachers, and supporting districts in training requirements, providing technical assistance in training, and application of time out and restraint. With the twin traumas our students, staff, and communities are suffering on account of the COVID-19 pandemic and instances of police brutality, providing supports through the Student Cares Department is a priority for ISBE. Further, a professional development grant will provide supports to Education staff and parents. ISBE understands that in these mitigating circumstances of increase use of technology, trauma and other Covid19 related impacts, we must provide relevant comprehensive professional development opportunities to both Educators and parents. ISBE has intentionally included parents because in Remote Learning situations, parents are carrying a heavier responsibility to educate their own children. Lastly, ISBE is also releasing two competitive funding opportunities -- Digital Equity Grant and Digital Professional Learning Grant. Additional details on both grants are available at
      • Digital Equity Formula Grant - This funding aims to assist districts in reducing barriers to the continuity of education by addressing the technology and home connectivity needs. Applicants can request funding for computing devices, home internet-connected devices, or both. Illinois Local Education Agencies (including state-authorized charter schools, university lab schools, and Regional Offices of Education on behalf of qualifying safe schools and alternative programs) with an FY 2020 or FY 2021 Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) Final Percent of Adequacy level of 70% or lower are eligible to apply.
      • Digital Professional Learning Grant - This funding aims to assist districts in reducing barriers to the continuity of education by addressing professional learning needs related to digital remote learning. As part of the application process, applicants must complete the Illinois School District Technology Survey prior to the submission of the application. In addition, the application will ask districts how they are supporting all students, including, but not limited to, students with disabilities, English Learners, and students from low-income families. Illinois public school districts, state-auth?orized charter schools, and Regional Offices of Education (ROEs) are eligible to apply. 


    Bruce Bennett

    Bruce Bennett
    1 N. Old State Capitol Plaza Suite 333
    Springfield, IL 62701-1377

    CARES Act Contact

    CARES Act Contact
    100 W Randolph St #14-300
    Chicago, IL 60601
    (312) 814-2220

  • Eligibility Details

    State Governors may apply on behalf of their State Education Agency. It is expected that State Education Agencies will then redistribute or regrant awarded funds to Local Education Agencies, Institutions of Higher Education, or other education service providers.

    In Illinois, the bulk of GEER funding was distributed through direct allocations and/or service contracts. A portion of GEER funding was also made available to LEAs via a competitive application process. Please see the Grants Office summaries for those programs for additional eligibility details.

    NOTE: A local educational agency receiving funds shall provide equitable services in the same manner as provided under section 1117 of the ESEA of 1965 to students and teachers in non-public schools, as determined in consultation with representatives of non-public schools. However, the control of funds for the services and assistance provided to a non-public school, and title to materials, equipment, and property purchased with such funds, shall be in a public agency, and a public agency shall administer such funds, materials, equipment, and property and shall provide such services (or may contract for the provision of such services with a public or private entity).

    Deadline Details

    In Illinois, a portion of GEER funding was directly distributed to identified eligible education entities through a closed process.

    The competitive higher education emergency fund deadline for applications is Aug. 20, 2020.

    The competitive grants for LEA deadlines are as follows:

    • ????The deadline for the Digital Professional Learning Grant has been extended until Friday, September 18, 2020. The deadline for the Digital Equity Grant has been extended until Monday, August 17, 2020.

    This is a one-time emergency funding opportunity. Future deadlines are not anticipated

    Award Details

    A total of $2,953,230,000 has been allocated for the Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund. The amount awarded to each State is based on the following formula:

    • 60% on the basis of their relative population of individuals aged 5 through 24 as of 2018 census data.

    • 40% on the basis of their relative number of children counted for FY20 under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (referred to under this heading as ‘‘ESEA'').

    Illinois was awarded $108,497,757 on May 26, 2020. Governors shall return to the Secretary any funds that the Governor does not regrant within one year of receiving such funds and the Secretary shall reallocate such funds. Regranted funds under this program remain available for obligation through September 30, 2022. 

    Related Webcasts Use the links below to view the recorded playback of these webcasts

    • Funding Classroom Technology to Empower Students and Teachers - Sponsored by Panasonic - Playback Available
    • Maximizing Technology-friendly Workforce Development Grants - Sponsored by Panasonic - Playback Available
    • Funding Data-driven Workforce Development Projects - Sponsored by NetApp - Playback Available


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