Funding alert + partnership request: U.S. ED opens grant competition with family literacy as a priority

The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) was successful in advocating to include family literacy as a competitive priority in a new grant competition hosted by the United States Department of Education, creating an advantage for those entities including family literacy as a key part of their overall strategy. The Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFEC) program seeks to promote high-impact cradle-to-career family, school, and community engagement by funding centers that build the capacity of all stakeholders—including families, State educational agencies (SEAs), local educational agencies (LEAs), school-level staff and personnel, and community based organizations—to engage in effective partnerships that support student achievement and school improvement and increase the number of high-quality educational options available to families.

NCFL wants to partner with organizations, states, and LEAs interested in working with us on family-literacy oriented applications. We believe that using the SFEC competition to seed and support family literacy programs across the US will maximize this opportunity for low income children and families. Please review the competition criteria and contact us at with the subject line “SFEC partnership inquiry” if you are interested in partnering on this funding opportunity. Please read on for high-level information related to the grant.

Competitive Preference #1 includes a federal definition of family literacy:

The Secretary gives priority to projects that are designed to—

(a) Create SFECs that will provide direct services to parents and families through evidence-based (as defined in this notice) activities.

(b) Provide families with evidence-based (as defined in this notice) strategies for promoting literacy. This may include providing families with access to books or other physical or digital materials or content about how to support their child’s reading development, or providing family literacy activities (as defined in section 203(9) of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act).


Lead applicant must be a statewide organizations (or consortia of such organizations) defined as:

A public or private organization that—

(1) Provides family engagement support or services;

(2) Demonstrates capacity to provide such support or services statewide to all States participating in its proposed project; and

(3) Is not an SEA or LEA.


Funding information:

Estimated Available Funds: $9,700,000.

Estimated Range of Awards: $500,000–$1,000,000 per project year.

Estimated Number of Awards: 10

Project Period: Up to 60 months


Matching Details for Grant Renewal: Each grantee must contribute non-Federal matching funds or in-kind donations equal to at least 15 percent of its SFEC grant award (years 2-5)


  • Preliminary MOU signed by all parties needed at application submission.
  • Final MOU must be signed by all parties and submitted by the end of the first year.

SEA Partnership: While each SFEC grantee must partner with at least one SEA, no SEA may partner with more than one SFEC grantee.

Other important funding details:

Must use not less than 30 percent of the funds received under this competition for each fiscal year to establish or expand technical assistance for evidence-based (as defined in this notice) parent education programs;

Use not less than 65 percent of the funds received under this part in each fiscal year to serve LEAs, schools, and community-based organizations that serve high concentrations of disadvantaged students, including students who are English language learners, minorities, students with disabilities, homeless children and youth, children and youth in foster care, and migrant students;

All family literacy and engagement strategies must be evidence-based. Federal definition of evidence-based:

Evidence-based, for purposes of this notice, means an activity, strategy, or intervention that demonstrates a statistically significant effect on improving student outcomes or other relevant outcomes based on promising evidence from at least one well-designed and well-implemented correlational study with statistical controls for selection bias.

Projects are supported by evidence and two robust evaluations.

Deadlines: notice of intent to apply is Friday, July 13, 2018, and the deadline for transmittal of applications is Monday, July 30, 2018.