Summer Enrichment

Accelerate CT logoSummer Enrichment is one of the five AccelerateCT priorities, which were formed to identify best practices and offer guidance on how to implement bold, high-leverage strategies, programs, and practices culminating in the development of the AccelerateCT Framework for Learning Recovery and Education Post-Pandemic. Related: Governor Lamont Announces $11 Million to Expand High-Quality Summer Enrichment Programs for Connecticut Children

  • Expansion Grants

    The purpose of the AccelerateCT Summer Program Expansion Grants is to increase the number of Connecticut children who are able to participate in an enrichment program during the summer of 2021, with an emphasis on children who were most impacted by the pandemic. The funding can be used for expanding local existing programs, offering subsidies to offset enrollment costs, or creating a new program to serve students who might otherwise not have access to summer camp/programs. Applicants can apply for up to three grants of up to $25,000 per program site. A maximum of one grant will be awarded per site/location, with a maximum of three per organization. Expansion grant opportunities will be provided by the Connecticut State Department of Education with funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

    Apply Now

    Learn more about the application process and grant award

    Watch the informational webinar for applicants held on April 28, 2021:


    Download the slide presentation

  • Innovation Grants

    The purpose of the AccelerateCT Summer Program Innovation Grants is to provide students, especially those from traditionally underserved communities, with access to bold, highest-quality, and innovative summer programming. The funding can be used for expanding existing programs or creating a new program to serve students who might otherwise not have access to summer camp/programs, with an emphasis on programs that can serve students regionally or statewide. Applicants can apply for grants between $50,000 and $250,000. Programs must be evidence-based and demonstrate, either through available research, prior program data, or by other means, a superior record of improving student outcomes. One application per organization will be accepted. Innovation grant opportunities will be provided by the Connecticut State Department of Education with funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

    Apply now

    Learn more about the application process and grant award

    Watch the informational webinar for applicants held on April 28, 2021:


    Download the slide presentation

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    I. Eligibility

    Does my licensed program need to follow the staff to student ratio of 1:6 outlined in the RFP when students are on or in the water? 

    No, licensed programs may operate at a 1:12 staff to student ratio for students ages 6 or older or a 1:9 ratio for students under age 6 when children are on or in the water. For all other programs, the 1:6 ratio must be followed.  


    Does it still make sense to apply if my license application with the Office of Early Childhood is pending or just recently submitted?

    The process for applying and receiving a license can take several months to complete, and would extend beyond the period when we will have made grant decisions. As such, we do not recommend your program independently apply if it does not currently hold a license and is not a license-exempt program. You are welcome, however, to partner with a municipality or school district (bullet 5 in Section II of the RFP) if your program is still interested in applying for funding.


    What license-exempt programs are eligible to apply for a summer enrichment grant?

    For the purposes of the summer grant application, license-exempt programs that can apply are those that are run by a municipal agency, private or independent school, public school district receiving less than $50,000 in ESSER II funding, or any organization specifically exempted by name in statute (Sec. 19a-77). Additionally, non-profit community-based organizations (CBOs) running programs serving youth ages sixteen or older exclusively are also considered license exempt.


    Can my program receive funding if I serve children aged 0-4? 

    Funding may only be used for students between the ages of 5 and 18, with the exception that programs may serve youth with special needs still enrolled in their school district up to their 22nd birthday. There will be additional opportunities offered through the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) for programs serving preschool-aged children. Programs can learn more about Governor Lamont’s plan to support early childhood and family needs here


    Can for-profit organizations apply? 

    Unfortunately, for-profit organizations are not eligible to apply or receive grant funding through this program. 


    If our site is held at a church, do we still need to obtain a license? 

    Any programs held at (or by) a faith-based organization, if they provide services to children ages 15 and younger, would have to have a license. Church-based programs that serve youth ages sixteen or older exclusively are not required to have a license.


    Can nonprofit organizations that have programs for high-school aged youth (ages 14-21) apply without a childcare license?

    Grant funding may be given to programs that are license-exempt and serve youth ages sixteen or older exclusively. Funding would not be able to be used for children under the age of 16 if the program does not have a license or is not a license-exempt camp as listed in the RFP document. 


    Can I use this funding to serve children during the fall? 

    This funding is for summer programming only. Funding must be dedicated and spent for activities between June 1, 2021 and September 3, 2021. 


    Can I use this funding if my program is based in another state but serves Connecticut students?

    No, only programs that are based in Connecticut are eligible to apply for this funding. 


    If a school district received more than $50,000 in ESSER II funding, does that mean a municipal recreation department within that school district cannot apply?

    The municipality is still eligible to apply, even if the district is not. 


    For Innovation Grants, is my program ineligible if we are not able to get the minimum of 150 children? 

    We would discourage programs from applying if they are not able to meet the “scale” requirement for Innovation Grants. There are no minimum requirements in Expansion Grants for the number of children served, and that might be a better option for your program. 


    Can overnight camps apply?

    Overnight camps that also run a day camp component can apply to expand the day camp.

    How many Expansion Grant applications can my organization submit?

    Applicants may submit up to three separate applications for three different program sites. “Program site” refers to the physical location in which the program operates. For example, two programs that each operate in different buildings within one broader campus would each be eligible for a separate Expansion Grant application; however, two programs that operate in different classrooms within one building (i.e., the same program site) would need to be included in the same Expansion Grant application.


    II. Budget 

    Can I use the funding to purchase technology/furniture or offer stipends to youth? What about paying staff?

    Funding cannot be used for technology/furniture or student stipends. Funding can be used to pay for staff, however, increasing staff salary without serving a greater number of students is prohibited. 


    Can I use the funding to expand my administrative staff to accommodate the increased number of youth that we would be serving?

    You may apply for the use of this funding as part of your application narrative.

    Can I use the funding to cover transportation costs for students?

    Yes. Up to 40% of requested funds can be used for transportation.

    Can I use the funding to reimburse families who have already paid program fees for this summer?

    No. Per federal guidelines, these grant funds may not be used to make direct payments to families. However, they may be used to offer subsidies to reduce enrollment fees. As noted in the RFP, it is strongly encouraged that programs prioritize students who are eligible for free- or reduced-price lunch (FRL) for subsidies.


    III. Program Quality Requirements 

    What application and program requirements does a license-exempt program need to follow in order to be eligible to receive this funding? 

    License-exempt programs that are operated by a municipal program or a public school district must obtain a letter from a municipal leader or superintendent attesting that the municipality/school district administers the program jointly with the licensed-exempt program and that the municipality/school district retains ultimate responsibility for the management and oversight of the program. Additionally, all license-exempt programs must adhere to the program quality requirements laid out in Section IV of the Expansion and Innovation Grant RFPs. These requirements represent a subset of the Care 4 Kids Health and Safety Requirements for License Exempt Programs. Please note that license-exempt programs are able to use a portion of their grant funding to meet these program quality requirements if they haven’t in the past.


    Is there a minimum duration for Expansion Grants? For Innovation Grants? 

    For Expansion Grants, yes. Programs that serve children ages 13 and older exclusively must be open a minimum of 4 hours each day, 4 days per week. Programs that serve children under age 13 should be open for a minimum of 5 hours each day, 4 days per week. There is no minimum week requirement. Additional points will be awarded for programs that provide more hours/days/weeks of programming to meet families’ child care needs.

    There is no minimum requirement for Innovation Grants although programs will be awarded points based on the duration of their program 


    For Innovation Grants, can you define what you mean by  “student outcomes?” 

    This can mean a number of outcomes, including academic outcomes, social-emotional outcomes, persistence outcomes, college attendance outcomes, etc. 


    IV. Other

    Can I submit letters of support for our organization/program?

    Letters of support will not be accepted or reviewed. The only letters that will be reviewed are those that have been identified in the application, including:

    1. Letters of support from a partner program that describe the partnership structure to implement the proposed program
    2. Signed letter by municipal/school administrator for a license-exempt program applicant that the municipality/school administers the program and retains ultimate responsibility for the management and oversight of such program, for the staff employed at the program, and the children attending the program.


    Where can I find the online application?

    Programs may access the Expansion Grant application or the Innovation Grant application on the Connecticut State Department of Education’s website. All applications must be submitted online. 


    Can I submit more than one application?

    Yes, each organization may submit up to three applications for the Expansion Grants as long as they are for entirely separate sites. Only one application is allowed per organization for the Innovation Grants.


    What about serving special education students?

    Programs that wish to access guidance and resources for students who receive special education services can learn more at the Connecticut State Department of Education’s website


    What if I want to run a half a day of enrichment programming to dovetail with the school district’s academic morning program?

    This is acceptable for expansion grant applicants as long as programs are meeting the minimum requirements of 5 hours per day, 4 days per week.


    Do I have to provide meals?

    Each program should describe how meals and snacks will be provided. Programs are encouraged to coordinate with Summer Meals Program Sponsors in their area for the provision of meals and snacks. Under these federal programs, all children 18 years of age and younger are eligible to receive healthy meals and snacks at no cost regardless of residency, school enrollment, or household income. For more information visit: USDA Summer Food Service Program Fact Sheet.


    Can an organization apply for both an Expansion Grant and an Innovation Grant?

    No, organizations may apply for either an Expansion Grant or an Innovation Grant, but not both. 


    I missed the webinar that was held on Wednesday, April 28. Where can I view it? 

    The webinar can be found on SDE's website in the Expansion Grant and Innovation Grant sections and the SDE YouTube channel.