Governor Ned Lamont and Connecticut Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker today announced the launch of Voice4Change, a first-of-its-kind campaign administered by the Connecticut State Department of Education that will empower high school students to decide how American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funds are spent.
A total of 43 districts encompassing 77 high schools across Connecticut have opted-in to participate, representing more than 55,000 students.
The governor explained that the goal for the initiative is to increase student engagement while fulfilling the Connecticut State Board of Education’s vision of ensuring students thrive in a global economy and civic life by challenging students to think critically and solve real-world problems. A first-in-the-nation statewide student civic engagement initiative, Voice4Change is empowering high school students to propose and vote on how more than $1.5 million of the ARP ESSER state set-aside will be invested to reimagine schools across Connecticut.
Students from the participating schools will submit proposals to the Connecticut State Department of Education outlining how they propose to spend $20,000 in their school, aligned with the department’s ARP ESSER priorities. Proposals deemed eligible to receive ARP ESSER funds will ultimately be voted on by their high school peers on March 11, 2022, one year after the historic American Rescue Plan Act was passed. The Connecticut State Department of Education, students, and the school district will then work together to carry out the winning proposals in each school. Also reserved are five Commissioner Choice awards, which will be given to fulfill five innovative student proposals across the state that are not victorious in their elections.