COVID-19 Comeback Fund Final Report

In September 2020, with over $2 million in support from the local philanthropic community, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) partnered with The Chicago Public Education Fund (The Fund) and The Chicago Principal Partnership (The Partnership) to launch the COVID-19 Comeback Fund. This opportunity made it possible for over 200 eligible school leaders to receive up to $10,000 in flexible spending for use during the 2020-2021 school year.

In addition to administering grants, The Fund documented data and insights from participants’ projects. This final report includes data from the application process and the two surveys. Our summary of findings and lessons learned include:

  1. Eligibility Criteria and School Characteristics | Grant funds successfully targeted underserved school communities most burdened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Overview of Projects Supported | Principals identified a wide array of projects that aimed to fulfill immediate needs and lead to long-term change.
  3. Overview of Educational Software Considered by Applicants | Principals explored and found value in many software options, but technological solutions required both money and time.
  4. Project Outcomes & Implementation | Principals engaged stakeholders and planned around the needs of their community. As school needs shifted, principals adapted to better support teachers and ensured continuity in learning.
  5. Overall Lessons Learned | Principals were satisfied with the COVID-19 Comeback Fund’s timeliness and flexibility and also provided valuable feedback on how to improve future funding opportunities. Overall, they agreed these small grants were impactful and would likely provide similar benefits to schools in other times of crisis or need.