May 27, 2020.  The COVID-19 Response Fund was organized by the Innovation Fund Foundation (IFF) and the Georgia Foundation for Public Education - the philanthropic arms of the Governor's Office of Student Achievement and the Georgia Department of Education, respectively.

By the time the grant cycle closed May 1, 890 Georgia school districts responded with applications requesting an award of up to $10,000 to support their initiative. The applications pointed to three major focus areas:

  1. Area of Need: Initiatives to support district distance/remote learning (454 district requests)
  2. Area of Need: Initiatives to support at-risk student populations (139 district requests)
  3. Area of Need: Initiatives to support supplemental learning (126 district requests)

Staff from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement and the Georgia Department of Education mobilized to review the 890 applications against a decision-making rubric that included these areas of measurement:

  • Program structure outlined with specific outcomes indicated
  • Specific proof of the need in their school district
  • Clear narrative of how the initiative would be implemented

COVID-19 Response Fund Application Analysis

“These programs go beyond education. We feel confident that they will address the consequences of the pandemic in schools, but also in the community,” IFF Executive Director Jaclyn Colona said. “The selected schools and districts will use this small investment to make a potentially long-term impact on the lives of students, families, faculty and the community. This process helped us identify widespread need; now we are hoping this awareness will encourage additional donations to meet these identified needs.”

In total, the 890 program requests totaled $8,613,598. The total funding available was $100,000, to be awarded as grants of up to $10,000 each. The GFPE and the IFF were able to award 11 schools and school districts during this round, leaving $8,513,598 in program requests that the foundations were not able to fund. Summaries of the winning proposals are below.

The Innovation Fund Foundation hopes to raise more funding to support even more of these schools’ and school districts’ needs. Individuals and corporations can donate in one of two ways:

  1. The Qualified Education Donation Tax Credit allows individuals and corporations to donate to the Innovation Fund Foundation and receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit – not just a deduction - on their state income taxes. Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan describes the tax credit in this Atlanta Journal Constitution article.
  2. A cash donation in any amount can be directed to a specific IFF initiative or school district. More information on IFF initiatives can be found here.

Since 2018, the Innovation Fund Foundation has invested over $1.7 million in grants awarded to traditional and charter schools, school districts, nonprofit organizations and post-secondary institutions across Georgia through four programs: the Community Partnership Grant Program, the Innovation Summit Pilot Grant, the Governor’s Honors Program Educator Fellowship, and the COVID-19 Response Fund Grant Program.


About the Innovation Fund Foundation
The Innovation Fund Foundation (IFF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that was developed to complement the work of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) in supporting innovative education programs. The IFF is committed to investing in innovative partnerships and initiatives to ignite student achievement. The Foundation envisions that it will be Georgia’s resource for making lasting impacts on education through collaboration and innovation. 

About the Georgia Foundation for Public Education
he Georgia Foundation for Public Education (GFPE) exists for the single purpose of supporting educational excellence for students in Georgia. The GFPE provides simple ways for donors to impactfully serve students in Georgia’s K-12 system – by investing in a current GFPE project or working with GFPE to fund their vision. Together, they are creating a better future for the 1.7 million students in Georgia’s public schools.


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Lyerly Elementary School (Chattooga County Schools) – $10,000 – Mental Health Services
Lyerly Elementary School will use CRF funds to provide small-group counseling sessions for high-risk students to mitigate stress responses to the pandemic. In addition, the school will provide Trauma-Based Responsiveness Intervention professional development to faculty prior to students returning in fall 2020.

Decatur County School District – $10,000 – Supplemental Learning Services
The Decatur County School District will implement an eight-week, virtual summer-school program to provide essential academic supports for targeted students before returning to school in the fall. The summer program will serve kindergarten through twelfth grade students who require remediation based on performance from the winter 2020.

International Community School (DeKalb County charter school) – $10,000 – At-Risk Student Populations
International Community School serves students from more than 20 countries. The pandemic and distance learning have presented challenges in serving a diverse student population. The school will use their funds to partner with New American Pathways to source translators and interpreters to communicate more seamlessly with the student body and families. The school will also develop a weekly family newsletter to ensure students and families have access to crucial information during the pandemic and beyond.

Campbell Elementary School (Fulton County Schools) – $10,000 – At-Risk Student Populations
Campbell Elementary School will address the mental health and emotional impacts caused by the pandemic. Specifically, the school will partner with the Atlanta Ballet, South Fulton Dance, Atlanta's Mindfulness Institute, and others to implement a summer program focused on mitigating the stress and trauma caused by the public health crisis.

Gordon County School System – $10,000 – Supplemental Learning Services
The Gordon County School System will implement “Passing the Pandemic: Helping Students Recover," a project which will allow high school students to complete required courses they were unable to complete due to the pandemic. The grant will fund the teachers and materials needed for this extended learning opportunity, which aims to help more than 300 students receive the credits required for graduation.

Jefferson Academy (Jefferson City Schools) – $5,000 – At-Risk Student Populations
Jefferson Academy aims to combat the school's early closure and the summer slide by providing reading material to at-risk students in second through fifth grades. The school will identify at-risk students, select individualized reading materials, and deliver book bags filled with books and instructions for how to log students' reading throughout the summer.

Jefferson County Schools – $10,000 – Professional Learning
As a result of the pandemic, students, families, and faculty have experienced severe mental health and emotional impacts. In response, Jefferson County Schools will implement Resilience Circles, a combination of facilitated face-to-face and virtual professional development experiences for school faculties, over the 2020-2021 school year in partnership with the Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement (GLISI).

Marietta City Schools – $10,000 – Supplemental Learning Services
Although most students from Marietta City Schools have been able to access the district's online learning platform since school buildings closed in March, there are three schools in the district with high populations of economically disadvantaged students and English Learners who have struggled with consistent virtual attendance and coursework completion. The district will employ students from Kennesaw State University's Bagwell College of Education as virtual summer tutors and mentors to encourage remote attendance and course completion for these students.

Mitchell County Elementary School (Mitchell County Schools) – $10,000 – Facilities/Equipment
Mitchell County, identified early as a hot spot in Georgia during the COVID-19 pandemic, will purchase face masks, hand sanitizer, mobile handwashing stations, forehead thermometers, and face shields for the 2020-2021 school year. This grant will provide 355 students and staff with two reusable face masks and increased handwashing options. The school will also use CRF funds to purchase sewing fabric and sewing supplies for students to develop their sewing skills by making recyclable cloth face masks for the student body.

Richmond County School System – $10,000 – At-Risk Student Populations
The Richmond County School System will provide eighth- through twelfth-grade students the opportunity to attend online summer school to recover credits for courses they did not pass in the 2019-2020 school year. In addition, the grant will provide supplemental tutoring services to these students to complement their online summer school coursework.

White County Schools – $5,000 – School Meals
White County Schools' School Nutrition Department, in partnership with the district's Transportation Department, will use CRF funds to deliver breakfast and lunch to students through the end of July, via mobile feeding routes developed in response to the COVID-19 crisis.



Malenka Warner
Director Communications
Governor's Office of Student Achievement