title i school funding
Mar 22 2022

What is Title I School Funding And How It Works?

Positive Action Staff
At Positive Action, we understand the funding challenges that educators face. Fortunately, our range of evidence-based programs for educators and families qualify for various funding opportunities.

“‘This,’ I thought, ‘is what school should be for all children everywhere: a place where people want to be; a place where they are safe to learn and grow.’ My experience at that school continued to be positive and uplifting, and I found myself wishing that every school could offer opportunities like this one.”Kristin McMillan, Positive Action staff, regarding her first Positive Action classroom experience

Title 1 is a pivotal aid package for funding educational opportunities. Positive Action meets the requirements for Title 1 funding use. In this guide, we’ll bring you up to speed on everything you need to know about Title 1.

What is Title 1?

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was signed into law back in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. It remains one of the most important education-related pieces of legislation ever passed.

The ESEA has evolved during its existence, but its basic mission of funding schools in need remains the same.

The ESEA funds primary and secondary education, promotes equal education access, and helps to close the education gap between high- and low-income students.

Title 1 (Title One) is a provision of the ESEA. Title 1 consists of a US Department of Education program that distributes funds to schools and school districts.

Funding under Title 1 targets schools and school districts where a high percentage of students are from low-income families. The purpose of Title 1 funding is to help schools establish programs to help these students—programs that wouldn’t be possible without some outside funding.

Here’s how the flow of Title 1 funds works:

  • The US Department of Education distributes funds to State Educational Agencies (SEAs)
  • SEAs distribute funds to Local Education Agencies (LEAs)
  • LEAs distribute funds to specific public schools that are in need

An SEA is a state-level Board of Education or other entity responsible for the supervision of public schools. An LEA is typically a board of education or similar body at the county, city, township, or other local level.

Eligibility for Title 1 Funding

A school is eligible for Title 1 funding if at least 40 percent of students are from low-income families, based on the US Census definition of low-income. From that starting point, complex formulas are used to determine Title 1 funding.

Students that qualify towards a school’s funding eligibility are counted by Title 1 funding administrators as formula-eligible.

Assistance through Title 1 funding can be provided in two ways, outlined in the table below: schoolwide, or targeted towards individual students.

Two Types of Title 1 School Funding

1. Schoolwide Program - Schools can utilize funding resources flexibly in order to serve the entire student body

2. Targeted Assistance Program - Schools use funding resources to assist specific students who are identified as academically failing or at risk of failing

In general, Title 1 is a program for public school students. However, funding may be provided for individual private school students who live in public school attendance areas that receive Title 1 funds.

Dispersion of Title 1 School Funds

Assistance is dispersed through grants, allocations, and reallocations. A school is awarded these funds when its leadership team demonstrates a desire to improve the school’s educational standing.

Requesting a Title 1 grant involves an application process. In the application, a school must describe how the funds would be used to improve academic performance.

There are four types of grants supported by Title 1:

  • Basic Grants
  • Concentration Grants
  • Targeted Grants
  • Education Finance Incentive Grants

Basic Grants make up the biggest piece of the Title 1 pie. In 2015, $6.4 billion Basic Grant funds were allocated. Basic Grants are allocated to school districts in which there are at least 10 formula-eligible students and where at least two percent of the school-age population is formula-eligible.

Concentration Grants made up $1.3 billion in funding in 2015. These grants provide additional funds for districts with large low-income and disadvantaged student populations. Eligibility requires over 6,500 formula-eligible students, or 15 percent of the school-age population.

Targeted Grants accounted for nearly $3.3 billion in Title 1 funds in 2015. These grants use the same criteria style as Basic Grants and Concentration Grants, but provide weighting of data. Data weights allow for more funds to flow towards schools with higher formula-eligible student counts. Funds are available for districts with formula-eligible student counts of at least 10 and at least five percent of the school-age population.

Education Finance Incentive Grants (EFIG) made up approximately $3.3 billion in grant allocations in 2015. These grants are distributed in two phases. Funds are first distributed at the state level, then the state allocates to the district level. States receive funds based on statewide income data. Districts are eligible for EFIG grants when the formula-eligible student count is at least 10 and makes up at least five percent of the school-age population.

Funding Alternatives to Title 1

Title 1 funding is an enormously important federal-level funding resource for schools throughout the US. However, it’s not the only way that schools receive financial assistance. Funding for programs like Positive Action is available through a variety of mechanisms.

State-level funding options change frequently based on budgets and other factors. These opportunities vary widely from state to state.

While it’s difficult to maintain an updated list of state-level funding opportunities, Positive Action highlights important opportunities when they arise. To explore state funding options, your best starting point is to reach out to your State Department of Education.

Finally, private funding may come through for your district when all else fails. Here are a few of the most distinguished charities that provide supplemental funding for schools:

  • Donors Choose
  • Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
  • The Kresge Foundation
  • The Prudential Foundation
  • Verizon Foundation
  • Wells Fargo Foundation

Private grants are typically quite competitive, but they’re incredibly rewarding when earned.

Positive Action does not provide grant writing services, but we have prepared a set of materials to assist our customers with their grant writing processes. Visit our funding page to access these materials and learn more about funding.

Capitalizing on Funding Opportunities With Positive Action

Funding is an unavoidable challenge for educators. These days, this aspect of education seems to take up more and more time and effort.

While educational funding on many levels can seem elusive or shrinking, Federal Title 1 funding remains substantial. As of 2015, over $14 billion per year in Title 1 funds were distributed, or $1,227 per formula-eligible student.

At Positive Action, we have a deep and passionate belief in the worth of our programs. We know that program implementation isn’t possible without funding.

That’s why we stay on top of federal, state, and private funding opportunities and do our best to serve as an informative resource to all of our customers and potential customers.

“Positive Action curriculum has been a great addition to the programming offered at the Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Missouri. Staff have focused on the environment that the kids work in. Our Learning Center staff has had great success in dimming the lights and having members sit on rugs in a laid back environment where they feel comfortable opening up and sharing with each other. Staff say members have enjoyed the activities and look forward to programming. Members have worked hard to bring a positive environment to the club as a whole. One member has struggled with her self image and battled suicidal thoughts. Being actively engaged in the Positive Action programming helped to build a relationship with that staff and help her feel comfortable enough to talk to the staff and ask for help.”

— Staff member, Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Missouri

Positive Action maintains the philosophy that positive self-feelings lead to positive actions.

Our programs work within this Thoughts-Actions-Feelings circle to improve the self-concepts of students. This in turn leads to a more vibrant and successful academic environment.

To learn more about the Positive Action philosophy and program offerings, visit our Introduction page. Or, check out our Success Stories page to learn about schools that have benefited from Positive Action programs.

For more information on our programs, funding opportunities, or for answers to other questions, contact our team today. Reach us by phone, chat, or email to get started.


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