Due to circumstances brought about by COVID-19, several legislation acts have created funds specifically for elementary and secondary schools.
This article will introduce you to what Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding is, and how to create a plan to request funding for your needs.
What are the ESSER funds
|The US Government passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March of 2020, which included over 13 billion in funding for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER).
|September 30, 2021
|In December of 2020, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act added over 53 billion dollars to an ESSER II fund.
|September 20, 2022
|The American Rescue Plan became law in March of 2021, providing an additional $126 billion in ESSER III funding.
|September 30, 2023
What can ESSER funds be used for?
The ESSER funds can be used for a variety of needs, as outlined by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. This includes educational technology hardware, software, assessment and instructional materials, professional development, and more (ARP Act Section 2001(e)(2)(K)).
This means that the ESSER funds can be requested for robotic kits for students as well as professional development for teachers.
ESSER II and III specifically identify the need to remediate learning loss (ARP Act Section 2001(e)(2)(N)). STEM learning is critical for students of all ages and VEX provides a continuum of educational robotics and standards-aligned curriculum to meet the needs of all students. Teachers and students need comprehensive and flexible solutions for STEM learning, and VEX Robotics provides both in an authentic and fun curriculum.
Make a Plan to Request ESSER Funding
The federal government issued ESSER funds to State Educational Agencies (SEAs) at the same proportion as each state’s Title 1, Part A grants. In order to receive funding, Local Education Agencies (LEAs) must apply for funding from their SEA. Each SEA will have a different procedure, so refer to your state’s SEA for specific procedures to apply for funding.
This may seem like a complex and daunting process, but it’s much easier when we break it down into some simple steps:
|Step 1: Determine Your Needs
Before you can request funding, you will need to determine exactly what you want ESSER funds for. Have a discussion with all teachers who want to use VEX Robotics and determine the number of robotics kits and/or professional development seats by asking the following questions:
|Step 2: Get a Quote
Once you have a plan for how you want to implement robotics, you should get a quote to calculate the cost.
Need help? See the Get Started page for information on VEX age/grade platforms, and professional development offerings.
| Step 3: Get Support from Administration
|In order to receive ESSER funds, your LEA will need to request them from your SEA. This simply means you will need support from your school and district administration. Formalize your funding request to your administration to get started.
|Here is a sample letter to get started.
|Step 4: Send your ESSER Funding Request to your SEA
|Once you have received support from your LEA administration and finalized your needs, your LEA will need to send your ESSER funding request to your SEA. Each SEA may have different procedures, so contact your SEA to get exact details.
Here is a sample ESSER funds request letter.
ESSER funds will only be available until their deadline date, so begin your request process as soon as possible. For additional funding sources and resources, see this article on grant funding.