The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III Fund is a federal grant provided to K-12 schools to address the impact of COVID-19 on learning and safety. This fund is part of a larger grant program authorized under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act aimed at enabling local educational agencies (LEAs) to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a comprehensive look at ESSER III funding, why school districts should leverage it, and the benefits that come with it:
Overview of ESSER III Funding
ESSER III Funding aims to help schools mitigate the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund supports a range of activities including enhancing programs, investing in infrastructure, providing support services, and hiring additional staff to ensure a safe and conducive learning environment1
- Allocation: A total of $122.7 billion has been allocated to K-12 education under ESSER III, marking a significant federal investment in schools during the pandemic. The funds are apportioned to states based on their share of Title I funds, and further distributed to local educational agencies (LEAs) including public schools and charter schools2.
- Usage Guidelines: ESSER III Funding comes with guidelines on how the funds should be utilized. For instance, districts are required to spend at least 20% of their allocation on addressing learning loss caused by the pandemic.
Why School Districts Should Take Advantage of ESSER III Funding:
- Addressing Learning Loss: The pandemic has resulted in significant learning loss, and ESSER III funds provide a resource to address this issue. School districts can use the funds to implement programs aimed at recovering lost instructional time and ensuring students are back on track.
- Improving Infrastructure: The funds can be used for making long-overdue improvements to technology and facilities, which is crucial for creating a safe and effective learning environment.
- Supporting Diverse Learning Needs: The grant supports the enhancement of programs to make learning more accessible for students with diverse needs and challenges, ensuring a more equitable education system.
Benefits of ESSER III Funding
- Enhanced Learning Opportunities: ESSER III funds facilitate the provision of additional learning opportunities such as after-school programs, targeted tutoring, and summer enrichment programs to help students catch up on missed learning.
- Support for Mental Health: The funding can also be utilized to provide mental health support for students, which is crucial given the psychological impact of the pandemic.
- Professional Development for Teachers: Investment in professional development for educators is another benefit, ensuring that teachers are well-equipped to meet the evolving needs of students in the pandemic’s aftermath.
- Broadband and Digital Technology Access: Ensuring students have access to necessary digital tools and broadband is critical for modern education, and ESSER III funds can be invested in expanding such access.
With the fund expiration date being September 30th, 2024 technology leaders need to actively pursue these dollars, as many entities learn of their existence only after they’ve been allocated or spent.
You can use this Department of Education Funding Report for ESSER and speak to your District ESSER contact to determine what funding is still remaining as federal reports are not updated live: https://covid-relief-data.ed.gov/
ESSER III Funding presents a valuable opportunity for school districts to address the multifaceted challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. By utilizing these funds judiciously, schools can enhance the quality of education, support the well-being of students and staff, and ensure a robust recovery from the pandemic’s adverse effects on the education sector.
Please get in touch with DOF today to see how we can get you approved for ESSER III funding before the deadline to take advantage of this important federal grant.