Launch of the Empowering Parents grant program

A new statewide program to meet the educational needs of K-12 students was launched Thursday.

Governor Brad Little spoke to students at Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy in the morning to share news of the $50 million Empowering Parents initiative just before it went live.

“It’s a program for literally every family in Idaho,” Little said.

He said many families in Idaho have faced real challenges through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Empowering Parents is based on Little’s $50 million Strong Families, Strong Students initiative launched in 2020. Through this program, more than 18,000 Idaho families and 46,000 students have been served.

“To build on this success, I signed Senate Bill 1255 into law this year, which injects $50 million into a new program,” Little said. “Today is the beginning.”

Empowering Parents was designed to provide eligible families with grant funds to use for educational services and devices as students continue to recover from learning loss caused by pandemic disruptions.

All K-12 students are eligible, regardless of the type of school they attend. Rewards are determined by parents’ or guardians’ adjusted gross income, with priority going to families earning $60,000 or less per year.

Eligible families can receive a credit of $1,000 per child up to $3,000 per family to use on the Empowering Parents online marketplace. Recipients have 24 months to use the funds. Approximately 16,000 prizes are expected to be awarded.

The governor answered questions from students about government and civics in eighth through 12th grade.

Eighth grade Mason Stevenson, who came prepared with written questions, asked about the funding source.

“Where will the money come from?” Mason asked.

“The money we spent last week in the special session was basically part of the surplus,” Little replied. “For every dollar we thought we would raise a year and a half ago, we raised $1.25.

“We had this big surplus that was sitting there, so I decided with my legislative partners that we were going to give a lot of it back to your parents, to businesses, to whoever paid it, and they were going to put that extra $330 million in K-12 and $80 million in in-demand careers and making that available,” he continued. “Part of his ongoing money, part of it is surplus, but of course that surplus comes from outstanding.”

Mason said knowing where the funding is coming from will help people understand where Little is coming from or why he wants to help.

“I feel like that’s a good thing because I know a lot of families can’t afford a lot of things,” he said. “Helping them with their child’s academic goals is a great thing to do.”

Senior Austin Mahnke said he was proud Little shared the news with Charter.

“I was happy to see that he prioritized education,” Austin said.

The Empowering Parents application window is now open. The first wave of grants will be funded on October 7. The second wave of grants for eligible families earning $75,000 or less per year will be funded on October 12. The third wave of grants, if funding is still available, will be awarded to eligible families earning more than $75,000 per year and will be funded on October 20.

“We’re excited about what we’re doing in education,” Little said. “We’re excited about what’s happening in Idaho.”




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