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Understanding ESSER Funds

Understanding ESSER Funds

What is ESSER?

Elementary and Secondary School Educational Relief. It is part of the CARES Act, and is designed to address the impact of COVID-19 on Education.

Large sums of money have been appropriated to support Education across the United States. $13.2B (ESSER I) + $54.3B (ESSER II) = $67.5 Billion for K-12 Schools. This is a one-time funding opportunity. Districts must either use it or lose it!

Why should I care?

The money provided can be used to support music programs! Money is on its way to districts March - June 2021. Many schools and teachers are unaware that the money is available to them or how to access it.

Schools must prove that the district (LEA) can conduct music programs safely virtually and/or in-person. Funding can be used for health and safety, cleaning and sanitation, facility improvements, technology, instructional support, and summer programs.


Who is eligible for ESSER funds?
Public, Charter, and Non-Profit K-12 Schools

Check the State/District Appropriations Dashboard

Who requests the funds?
VAPA Coordinators, Principals, and other liaisons who communicate with the district (LEA)

We want to encourage Music Educators to get involved in the process to communicate their program needs to their District's Leadership.


March 2020 - 1st Relief Bill = $13.2 Billion (ESSER I)

December 2020 - 2nd Relief Bill = $54.3 Billion (ESSER II)

February 2021 - States received their $ proportional allotment

March-June 2021 - State awards to districts

September 2021 - Final date to award funds

September 2023 - Deadline to spend

Funding Examples #1

  • Purchase additional instruments and equipment
  • Purchase technology
  • Purchase PPE, cleaning, and sanitation
  • Purchase facilities improvements
  • Purchase instructional support
  • Provide summer and rendition programs (students)
  • Begin planning for new year

Funding Examples #2

  • Purchase and replace instruments to avoid student sharing
  • Purchase bell covers, masks, PPE for in-person use
  • Provide teacher training for re-opening & in-person instruction
  • Purchase supplies for cleaning and sanitation (instruments, equipment, rooms)
  • Purchase or lease technology devices and software for virtual learning
  • Pay for teachers who can help with remedial instruction: private, adjunct, PT or FT personnel
  • Play for materials to create social distancing environments: outdoor tents, media cart, microphones, projectors and more
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