CARES Act Resources for K-12 Private Schools

In the week since Congress passed the CARES Act,  informational materials and resources have been made available to help schools, families, and small business navigate the complicated process. We have compiled some resources in case they can be helpful to your families, staff, or schools during this challenging time.

Support for Schools

Equitable services for private schools

The CARES Act allows private schools to receive fully or partially subsidized “equitable services” from their local educational agencies. You can read more about the available services here.

Accessing the maximum amount of support will require both state education agencies and local school districts to fairly assess the needs of private schools and allocate resources accordingly.

To best advocate for your school to receive the equitable services you need, private schools need to contact their state Equitable Services Ombudsmen as soon as possible. Tell them about the challenges your school is facing, and encourage them to advocate strongly for you to receive the help you need and deserve.

Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Loan Program

$350 billion in federal loans are available to all employers (including nonprofits) with 500 or fewer employees. Many of these loans can be forgiven if funds are used only for required purposes. 

Note that the loans may, in some cases, include requirements related to federal employment and non-discrimination law. We encourage you to review the below items—and the terms of the loans—with your boards, finance teams, and legal counsel.

Here are some resources you may find helpful:

Additional charitable giving incentives for 2020
The CARES Act makes several changes to incentivize giving to nonprofits for the duration of 2020. These changes are as follows:
  • Increases the percentage of income that itemizing taxpayers can deduct for charitable contributions from 60 percent to 100 percent
  • Increases the percentage of income that corporate taxpayers can deduct for charitable contributions from 10 percent to 25 percent
  • Adds a “universal deduction” of up to $300 for taxpayers who do not itemize (i.e., those who take the standard deduction)
Potential access to funds through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund
We have been advised by several national partners that the U.S. Department of Education is considering rules (to be released next week) that would allow private schools to access direct funding made available to states for educational support.

This funding would be in addition to the equitable services private schools can access through their local school districts under the CARES Act (please see here for more details on equitable services access).

While final guidance from the U.S. Department of Education will be needed to confirm the availability of cash funding, we encourage any of you who are interested to share your stories of need with your governor. Please see below for contact information by state:

Governor Asa Hutchinson   Contact | Social
Governor Jared Polis   Contact | Social
Governor Laura Kelly   Contact | Social
Governor John Bel Edwards   Contact | Social
Governor Mark Parson   Contact | Social
Governor Steve Bullock    Contact | Social
Governor Greg Abbott   Contact | Social
Governor Mark Gordon  Contact | Social

Support for Families and Staff

More Resources?

If you have other resources that you think that other schools would benefit from, please feel free to send them to Katrina Yoshida at we can disseminate the information. 

Related Articles:

COVID-19 Stimulus Package and What It Means For K-12 Private Schools

Earlier today, the United States House of Representatives used a voice vote to pass an enormous $2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package—the largest such bill in United States history. The bill will now head to President Trump for signature, which is expected to happen quickly.

We know that many of you have questions about what the stimulus might mean for your schools. With that in mind, the ACE Policy team has conducted an initial analysis of those portions of the bill that affect K-12 private schools.

The bill is 880 pages long, but private schools will want to pay particular attention to Sections 18002, 18003, and 18005, which begin on page 754. These sections deal with how emergency education funds (totaling $30.75 billion) will be allocated across states and local educational agencies.

Below is an initial overview of all three main sections and how they connect to private schools.

Overview of CARES Act Provisions Related K-12 Private Education

Section 18002 (p. 754, line 12) – Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (about 10 percent of the total funding available)

This section allows states to submit applications for grant money from the federal government. That grant money will be allocated based on states’ relative population of students between the ages of 5 and 24, as well as the relative number of school-age children counted for federal funding purposes under the current Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA).

States can use the funds awarded under this section for the following purposes:

  • Providing emergency grants to local educational agencies (school districts) that the state education agency (state department of ed) deems to have been most significantly impacted by coronavirus
  • Providing emergency grants to institutions of higher education serving students that the governor deems to have been most significantly affected by coronavirus
  • Provide support to “any other institution of higher education, local educational agency, or education-related entity within the state that the governor deems essential for carrying out emergency services to students for [higher education], the provision of child care and early childhood education, social and emotional support, and the protection of education-related jobs.”
Section 18003 (p. 756, line 12) – Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (about 40 percent of the total funding available)

This section allows states to apply for emergency relief grants from the federal government. Funds will be allocated by the proportion of Title I, Part A funding received by states under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

States can use these funds to provide subgrants to local educational agencies (school districts) for the following purposes:

  • Any activity authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (NOTE: this would include services for low-income and at-risk students), the Individuals with Disabilities Act, the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, and a variety of other existing federal laws.
  • Coordination of preparedness and response efforts of local educational agencies to fight coronavirus
  • “Providing principals and other school leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools” (i.e., unrestricted block grants)
  • Activities to address the unique needs of low-income children or students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, homeless and foster students, etc.
  • Training and professional development for staff of the local educational agency on sanitation and infectious disease suppression
  • Purchasing sanitizing and/or cleaning supplies
  • Planning for and coordinating long-term closures, provision of meals to eligible students, provision of technology for online learning to all students, provision of services to students with disabilities, etc.
  • Purchasing educational technology for students that aids in “regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors”
  • Providing mental health services and support
  • Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental after-school programs, including summer learning for low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, homeless students, and foster students.
  • “Other activities that are necessary to maintain the operation and continuity of services in local educational agencies”
Section 18005 (P. 764, line 11) – Assistance to Non-Public Schools

This is the big one—the section that allows K-12 private schools to access the assistance under the CARES Act.

Section 18005 allows K-12 private schools to access, through their local school districts, “equitable services” under Sections 18002 and 18003 above. Note that, as with current equitable services under federal law, schools CANNOT receive actual funding under those sections. They CAN, however, receive fully or partially subsidized services covered under the CARES Act. 

(UPDATE: Upon further guidance from the U.S. Department of Education, it seems that governors may indeed be able to send funds directly to private schools or families under the Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund should they so choose.)

To better understand how the equitable services process works, please see this white paper. Note that the paper focuses primarily on Colorado. While federal requirements for equitable services cover all states, exact processes may vary in your state and/or locality. For specific questions, the best person to contact in is your state department of education’s Equitable Services Ombudsman. You can find an official directory of all state ombudsmen here

What comes next?

The passage of the CARES Act is a massive step, but the conversation is not over. Both the United States Department of Education and state departments of education will need to have significant discussions about how funding is allocated under these grant programs. And private schools will still need to interface with their local school districts to access equitable services under the act.

Further, which allocation formulae states adopt with regard to equitable services for private schools could have large impacts on how many resources are ultimately made available on the ground. ACE will be watching these conversations closely and will follow up with you as needed.



COVID-19 and Educational Choice in ACE States

It’s getting wild out there! We at ACE would like to encourage all our families, students, and partner schools to take care of themselves during this difficult time.

In the meantime, we know many of you have been anxiously watching (and participating in) legislative discussions related to educational choice in your states. We want to provide a quick update on where each of those conversations stand right now—and what we can expect to come next.


Arkansas does not have a regular legislative session in 2020. Instead, the state is scheduled to hold a fiscal session for several weeks beginning on April 8. That fiscal session will not include discussion of any form of new state K-12 scholarship program at this time.

It remains to be seen whether or how the coronavirus will impact this session, but ACE does not anticipate any direct impact on our Arkansas scholarship programs at this time.


The Colorado General Assembly will temporarily adjourn until at least March 30. Given the expanding pandemic, we believe the adjournment could last even longer.

The shutdown leaves in limbo three separate bills related to the use of 529 educational savings accounts for K-12 tuition. Here’s a quick rundown of those bills:

  • HB 1034 Colin Larson is once again running a bill that would allow families to access their educational savings for K-12 tuition without fear of state tax penalties. Unfortunately, the bill likely does not have the political support it needs to survive the Colorado House of Representatives.
  • SB 073 This bill is a new version of the same bill ACE has opposed and defeated for the past two legislative sessions. It would explicitly forbid parents from using 529 accounts for K-12 tuition despite federal law to the contrary and codify penalties against parents who do so.
  • Potential compromise – ACE has been working with a variety of stakeholders to craft a bipartisan compromise that would allow families to access their savings for K-12 tuition under certain circumstances. Unfortunately, leadership in the House has yet to greenlight the compromise despite support from both sides of the aisle.

How the current shutdown will affect these bills remains to be seen. But at the very least, we can expect a vastly accelerated timeline for hearings, debate, and votes when the legislature reconvenes to finish its business. We know this issue is important to many of you, so please stay tuned!


The Kansas legislature is still considering two changes to student eligibility under the state’s scholarship tax credit program for low-income students:

  1. Expand student income eligibility to better reflect student need in Kansas. The bill would raise income eligibility requirements from the current free lunch line under the National School Lunch Program (130 percent of federal poverty guidelines) to the free and reduced-price lunch line (185 percent of federal poverty guidelines). For an average Kansas family of three, this change would raise the income-eligibility threshold from $28,200 to $40,200
  1. Allow participating students to come from ANY Kansas public school, not only those enrolled in the lowest-performing 100 elementary schools. Currently, access to scholarships is only available to students who happen to reside in the right enrollment zone. This means that in some cases, students from the same neighborhood have their eligibility determined by which side of the street they live on. If the intent of this program is to serve disadvantaged and at-risk students, those opportunities should be determined solely by need, not by arbitrary enrollment zones or invisible geographic boundaries.

These changes are currently included in several bills, including SB 382, all of which have cleared committee and are awaiting a vote by the full Kansas House of Representatives. We had planned for that vote to happen this week, but the state legislature has decided instead to finish budget work and adjourn until April 27.

We do believe the legislature will address pending business when it returns in April, and that business should include these important changes to the Kansas program.


The Louisiana State Legislature also decided to shut down until March 31. While ACE is not currently supporting any legislation in the state, we do closely monitor potential changes to the Tuition Donation Credit program.

We do not anticipate that this shutdown will impact the ACE program directly because the 2020 legislative session is a “non-fiscal session.” In practice, this means that the legislature is constitutionally prevented from making changes to state law that would impact the state’s fiscal situation—including changes to tax credits and other programs.


Missouri is considering several choice-related bills, but ACE has not been directly involved in those conversations. The Missouri legislature takes a regularly scheduled spring break from March 23 to March 27, but the Senate has adjourned early in light of the pandemic.


Has already adjourned its state legislative session on March 12.

Texas and Montana

Texas and Montana, two other ACE states, do not have legislative sessions in 2020.


Related Articles: