• How do I know if I am eligible to participate?

    In order to apply for this funding, you (and your team members, if applicable) must be a current high school student (i.e., in Grades 9-12) in Connecticut, and your district and school must be listed on the Participating Districts page.

    The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) presented Voice4Change to school districts and provided the opportunity to voluntarily opt-in to this initiative after considering local circumstances. To maintain the announced funding cap, which was determined by the number of participating schools, we are no longer accepting opt-in requests. Only those schools listed on our website can participate in this year’s challenge. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please know we are exploring other opportunities for engagement for students, educators, and families.

  • I am a senior and plan on graduating in 2022. Can I still apply?

    Yes, you may still apply. However, your proposal must provide a description of how the plan will be carried out in the following school year after you graduate. If you are working in a group, your proposal can also include the names of additional group members who are currently in Grades 9-11 and will be enrolled in school next year to successfully carry out your project.

  • Can I collaborate with others on a joint proposal?

    Yes! You may choose to submit a proposal independently, but we encourage you to work with your peers. Only one proposal can be submitted per group. There is no limit to the amount of group members. However, please be mindful of group size and ensure that all teammates are heard and represented in the proposal, and that only group members who attend your high school can be listed on your proposal. You may of course collaborate with others if appropriate, but only those students who are enrolled in your school may be part of your (or your team’s) application.


    Please note: a student’s name may not appear on multiple proposals. If a student’s name appears on more than one proposal, then that student and all associated proposals will be disqualified.

  • Will each participating school be guaranteed a winning proposal?

    Each participating high school will be guaranteed only one winning proposal as long as the proposals that are submitted are deemed eligible, so be sure to read our funding guidance carefully. We have also reserved funds for five (5) Commissioner Choice Awards, which will provide funding for 5 proposals across the state that are particularly innovative but not successful on their school’s ballot. All proposals will be considered, and no separate application is required.

  • Can I preview the application before applying?

    You may preview a PDF of the application for planning purposes. Please note, however, that applications must be submitted online using our secure link. No paper applications will be accepted.


    Proposals must align with at least one of the CSDE’s ARP ESSER priorities, as outlined in this document (see page 2). This federal guidance is to ensure that district spending falls within the rules set by the U.S. Department of Education.

  • Can I submit my proposal in a language other than English?

    Yes. If a proposal is submitted in a language other than English, the CSDE will use a verified translation service to translate your proposal into English for the purposes of internal review. However, the CSDE is not responsible for ensuring accuracy or rectifying errors in translation.


    A reminder as well that, should your proposal be deemed eligible during the initial review process, you will then have to campaign for your proposal, which will be voted upon by students in your school who may or may not speak or understand the same language as is written in your proposal.

  • Do school administrators or teachers have to approve my proposal before I submit it?

    There is a section of the application where you can upload documentation reflecting the endorsement of your school principal or other administrator. Students are encouraged to share proposal ideas with their school administration before uploading to our portal to make sure their ideas aren’t already being implemented using American Rescue Plan dollars that were previously given to districts.

  • When will I find out whether my proposal passed the initial CSDE review? Can I revise in the meantime?

    All submitted proposals are final and cannot be revised after submission, nor can proposals be changed after CSDE’s review process. Please do not submit a proposal until you are ready!


    We hope to inform students of their initial review outcome by late January 2022. More details will be provided at a later date.

  • If my proposal is approved by CSDE and then wins, when would my project or program go into effect?

    The CSDE will work with your district to disperse the funds beginning in March, but they may not be available before the end of the school year. For that reason, we ask that you plan accordingly and submit your idea with the expectation that your ideas will come into effect next school year (2022-2023).

  • Should I propose something that is a one-time initiative, or long-term?

    There is no preference. At CSDE, we find that innovative, impactful proposals can take many forms. Since your peers will be voting on the proposals in your school, you might consider what they prefer.


    Please also note that there is no guarantee that this funding will be available in subsequent years, so if you envision a long-term project or program that requires more than $20,000, or extends beyond next school year without additional support, then your project may not be sustainable. That said, you could certainly identify a community partner or sponsor who would be willing to support your project. You just have to submit a letter of support from the organization committing funding before you apply, and don’t forget to mention how much you expect to receive from a partner or sponsor and explain what those additional funds will be used for.

  • Are you saying that my school could potentially receive $1.5 million?

    Not quite—$1.5 million is the total amount for this initiative, split between every school that chose to participate. Students in participating districts can submit proposals to the CSDE outlining how they would spend up to $20,000 USD in their school.


    This money is made available through the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) federal funds that were received by the Connecticut State Department of Education in August 2021.

  • How do I create a budget for something like this? I'm only in high school?

    We strongly encourage you to do some outside research and talk to your school official when considering costs. Think about each item carefully and consider things like quantity and cost per unit. You may wish to use software such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets for planning purposes. Check out this free online course for some helpful tips and tricks.


    In general, the more detailed and specific your budget is, the easier it will be for us to review, and the better prepared you will be to utilize the funds if selected!

  • Can I work with students at another participating school and design a joint project for $40,000?

    No. Even if two schools are part of the same district, they may not submit a joint proposal for $40,000 or one that exceeds $20,000. This is because there is no guarantee that both teams will win. For example, if a $40,000 proposal were submitted and only one school wins, then you would not have the funding to carry out your project.

  • My budget is less than $20,000. Should I overshoot and make the budget $20,000 anyway?

    Every budget will be different based on the programs or projects you and/or your team members wish to implement. If your budget is less than $20,000 and your proposal wins, but you later realize you need the full amount, unfortunately your request will not be granted. Winning proposals will only receive the amount requested in their submitted application.


    For this reason, we recommend that you take time to really think through every expense that your project or program might incur, and account for the full grant amount when submitting your proposal. Be sure to talk to a district official, teacher, or mentor about possible expenses, and work with them to calculate everything carefully. Part of your budget may include an amount for unexpected or miscellaneous expenses (this is very common!), although this figure is usually quite small compared to the rest of the budget, and you should be prepared to explain your reasoning in your application.

  • Can sponsors and/or partners provide extra funding? Do we need to include that in our proposal?

    Yes, you can! There is a spot for that on the application. You just have to submit a letter of support from the organization committing additional funding before you apply. Any additional funding must be separate from the $20,000 budget, and you should mention how much you expect to receive from a partner or sponsor and explain what those additional funds will be used for.

  • My proposal was deemed eligible! What happens next?

    Congratulations! All eligible proposals will be put onto school-wide ballots and voted by your peers on March 29, 2022. You may begin campaigning for your proposal between now and then. We have provided several campaigning guidelines that all students must adhere to. For more information on voting day procedures and school-specific campaigning policies, please follow-up with your principal or school administrator.

    We are also hosting two (2) webinars with CT Elected Officials about the campaign process—a prime opportunity to learn from successful campaigners! Register for one below:

  • How does the voting process work? Will it be online or are there physical ballots?

    All eligible proposals will be put onto school-wide ballots, which will be made available using each school’s own secure online system. Students will “head to the polls” on Tuesday, March 29, 2022 to cast their vote. Please contact your school administration for more information.

  • When will winners be notified?

    Voting will close at 2:30pm EST on March 29, 2022. Votes will be collected by LEAs and then shared with CSDE staff for final review. CSDE plans to officially announce the winners by early April, including the Commissioner Choice Awards. These awards will provide funding for five (5) proposals that, although they may be unsuccessful on their school’s ballot, are particularly innovative and creative and worthy of funding on their own merit. All proposals will be considered, and no separate application is required.

  • My proposal was deemed ineligible. May I re-submit another proposal?

    Unfortunately, no. Please note that all proposals have been thoroughly vetted by CSDE’s review team and checked for permissibility under ARP ESSER federal guidelines and alignment with CSDE’s state-level priorities. That said, you are by no means barred from participating in the voting process. In fact, we strongly encourage all students—regardless of proposal outcome—to partake in this civic engagement activity and cast their vote on March 29th!

  • No information has been provided by my school or district about voting day. Can I still vote?

    If you attend a school that opted into participating in the Voice4Change initiative but do not see a school-wide ballot, it is either because the CSDE did not receive any submissions from your school, or those proposals that were submitted were unfortunately deemed ineligible.