The Department of Defense Education Activity other wise known as DoDEA is a program to help military connected students. They give grants to schools all over the nation to provide programs and opportunities for these children.
Escambia County recently received their 8th grant from the organization. The district has over 40-thousand students and about 10-percent of them are military connected children.
Over the past decade the Escambia County School District has partnered with DoDEA, it has received over $10.3 million going straight to helping military connected students.
Coordinator of Grants Management Joel Hollon says, “Military connected student means different things to different people. DoDEA’s definition is a student that is a dependent and is currently serving in our armed forces. DoDEA’s broader definition is also includes students parents who work as contractors on federal property or reside on federal property.”
The criteria has been usually been a 25-percent threshold of military connected students to be able to receive this grant and this year it’s changed to 10-percent. Each grant focusing on something different.
Hollon says, “Each year the criteria might vary a little bit. For instance one year the DoDEA grant might focus on social and emotional learning. Another year it might be science, math, STEM, or computer science and all of those are grant things we have participated in.”
One of the major uses of the grant money is providing quarterdecks for these kids in participating schools.
“A place where military connected students could come if they needed to decompress or engage with a military life counselor that the department of defense provides for our schools or in some cases we have been able to connect them with a loved one that is serving overseas,” says Hollon.
This year they are focusing on health science projects for the 4-thousand plus military students they have. The district has been able to create many different programs, but Hollon tells me the best part of it… is getting to see it in action.
“The Flighter Deck that is aboard NAS Pensacola has been a wonderful experience for our students to participate in. They get to participate in the week long summer day camps that take place at the elementary school level. We also have students at the middle school and high school level that get to participate in the National Flight Academy, which is a week long residential camp.”
Escambia County has six schools that have never been able to participate in this grant because of the threshold limits. They are excited to see what the money can do for them this year.