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Funding for Social Studies in 2017 Federal Appropriations

Since 2011 when earmarks were eliminated, Federal advocacy efforts by NCSS and the social studies community (civics, economics, geography, and history) have paid off in significant ways. Most important is the The Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA). Signed into law in December 2015, ESSA included authorization to fund three grant programs specific to the social studies, and one large grant that can be used to fund social studies education. May 5, President Trump signed the 2017 appropriations that included funding for these programs. 

American History and Civics National Programs

ESSA authorized grants to non-profit organizations that promote effective approaches to education in civics, geography and history, particularly for underserved populations. 

  • ESSA Authorized amount: $4.6 million
  • Appropriated for FY 2017: $1.7 million

Congressional Academies and Presidential Academies

ESSA created two programs to provided grants to nonprofit organizations that run intensive summer institutes for teacher preparation in the social studies, particularly American government and history.

  • ESSA Authorized amount: $1.8 million for each program
  • Appropriated for FY 2017: $1.815 million total shared between the programs

Student Success and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) Grants

ESSA provided for grants to school districts that can be used for multiple purposes, including improving instruction in civics, economics, geography and history. Due to small funding amount to be distributed to school districts by competition rather than by formula.

  • ESSA Authorized amount: $1.6 billion 
  • Appropriated for FY 2017: $400 million

Through these appropriations, the social studies education community has an opportunity to continue pushing forward for program funding increases in future fiscal years. While the level of funding is low in comparison to what our community has requested through our advocacy efforts, these funded programs are a critical step forward in providing needed teacher and student supports in social studies classrooms nationwide.


NCSS will continue to update you on federal-level support for social studies education. 

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