During the pandemic, the federal government passed three relief Acts to help stimulate the economy and help the country continue to thrive. Each Act included funding for schools through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund or ESSER. Learn more about the available funding for schools, including how to access it for your program, below.

What federal relief funding for schools is available?

There is over $200 billion in funding available to schools and districts. The CARES Act (March 2020) included $13.5 billion to LEAs or local education agencies through the ESSER fund. The CRRSA Act (December 2020) funded the ESSER II fund with $54.3 billion, again provided to LEAs, which must be spent by September 30, 2023. The ARP Act (March 2021) provided $130 billion to the ESSER III fund. LEAs must spend their ESSER III funds by September 30, 2024.

ESSER funds are first allocated to state education agencies (SEA). The SEAs must then distribute 90% of the funds to districts or local education agencies (LEA) using the TItle 1, Part A formula. At this point, your school board and/or district office determines how the money will be distributed throughout the schools. For a more comprehensive breakdown of the CARES Act, CRRSA Act, and APR Act, read this helpful blog!

How can the funding for schools be used?

ESSER funds can be used on a broad range of activities, which include but are not limited to:

Kids playing at table

  • Supplemental learning  
  • Addressing needs of at-risk or low-income students 
  • Providing mental healthcare services 
  • Providing necessary resources 
  • Planning for long-term closure 
  • Purchasing educational equipment 
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Training and professional development on PPE 
  • Procedure development 

ESSER III funds can be used on everything listed above, as well as:

  • Implementing public health protocols aligned with CDC and prevention guidance on reopening
  • 5% of funds for “evidence-based activities” to address learning loss
  • 1% of funds to implement a summer enrichment program
  • 1% of funds to implement evidence-based after school programs
  • 0.5% of funds for administrative costs

How do I access the funding?

The best place to start is to have a conversation with your district federal programs director, principal, or program director to understand your district’s top priorities for using this funding. Additionally, make sure you are prepared to discuss how you would like to utilize this funding to support your classroom or program. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • SPARK Early Childhood Physical Activity Program! You know that kids need to move and that they learn better when they’re physically active. SPARK is an evidence-based program that provides you with everything you need to incorporate physical activity and movement for early learners, including more than 300 activities available in print and digital formats! Supplement your curriculum with a content-matched equipment pack and professional development. Learn more about SPARK!
  • Educational equipment to enhance your space! Utilize ESSER funding to meet the unique needs of your program or school. This funding can be used in a variety of ways to help you meet your goals!

Do you still have questions about the funding for schools? We’re here to help! Call us at 1-855-8587-5501 and a friendly and knowledgeable member of our team will be happy to answer your questions!