Erie universities, institutes awarded more than $500,000 in COVID safety grants

ERIE, Aug. 3 – Grant funding of $512,227 will help Erie’s postsecondary education organizations implement plans to keep students learning as schools resume operations this fall, state Reps. Pat Harkins, Bob Merski, and Ryan Bizzarro, all D-Erie, announced today.

The lawmakers said the grants -- part of a package of $28 million in federal funding to organizations statewide – include the following:

  • Edinboro University of Pennsylvania -- $239,640.
  • Erie Institute of Technology Inc. -- $11,797.
  • Gannon University -- $106,418.
  • Great Lakes Institute of Technology -- $20,900.
  • Mercyhurst University -- $133,472.

“With this funding, our universities and tech institutes will be able to implement plans and purchase equipment to keep students learning in the safest possible ways – whether that’s through online instruction, in-person classes, or a combination of both,” Harkins said. “The money can be used for a variety of resources, from protective and sanitizing equipment to structural modifications to online technology.”

“Although learning is most effective when it takes place in a live, energetic environment with real-time questions and demonstrations, the practical concerns raised by the pandemic mean that we have to sacrifice some aspects of that model,” Merski said. “With this funding and creative planning by school administrators, though, I’m confident Erie’s resourceful students and instructors will forge a path forward.”

Bizzarro said, “The safety of students and staff is our No. 1 priority. Without that, the best instructors and lesson plans in the world are irrelevant. Securing this funding means that Edinboro University and our other excellent postsecondary schools will have the resources they need to prepare for all contingencies and ensure our students are protected while they learn.”

Administered by the state Department of Education, the federal funding was based on both the shares of total enrollments by each postsecondary sector and the number of socio-economically disadvantaged students served by institutions.