The ESSER I Grant Program, part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, provides funds to help LEAs respond to changes in student needs due to COVID-19 (CARES Act, Section 18003).
The DPI is awarding more than $158 million in ESSER I funds directly to Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) through grants.
- DPI's Federal Stimulus Relief Funding FAQ (Google doc)
- ESSER I Allocations for LEAs
- ESSER I, II, and III Overview (Google Doc)
- U.S. Department of Education ESSER web page
- Required Quarterly Claiming - Stimulus Grants
Applying for an ESSER I Grant
ESSER I Grant applications for LEAs became available in WISEgrants in July, 2020. The grant performance period is 3/13/20-9/30/22. DPI consultants will review applications in the order they are received. LEAs can claim funds as soon as their applications are approved.
- WISEgrants LEA Start Guide for ESSER I Grants (Google doc)
Create a plan for your LEA that meets your unique needs. This doesn’t necessarily mean conducting a formal needs assessment. Simply reaching out to families and looking at whatever data you have will help you make more effective decisions. Data may include student data, financial data, feedback from the community, etc. Once you’ve analyzed your data, determine the best uses of ESSER I funds. The CARES Act provides a broad, permissive list of allowable LEA activities in Section 18003(d).
In the application, you will tie costs to one or more of the following program types:
- Preparedness and response to COVID-19
- Outreach and services to special populations
- Addressing long-term closures
- Education technology
- Mental health supports
- Addressing afterschool and summer activities
- Continued staff employment
Removing Barriers to Participation
For each program type included in your application, you will need to provide a concise description of steps to be taken to overcome applicable barriers to equitable participation. The General Education Provisions Act (GEPA), Section 427 highlights six types of barriers: gender, race, national origin, color, disability, and age. For details, visit the GEPA Section 427 page.
Equitable Participation for Private School Students
Equitable participation for private school students applies to ESSER I grant funds. The process will be the same as that for ESEA, involving meaningful consultation and submission of Affirmation of Consultation forms.
- 20-21 ESSER Private School Equitable Share Report (March 11th, 2021)
- ESSER I Equitable Participation (Google doc)
- ESSER I Affirmation of Consultation with Private School Officials form
- Uploading Affirmation Forms in WISEgrants
- ESSER I Funds Equitable Participation Poverty Measurement Options (Google doc)
- Equitable Share Calculator
The CARES Act requires that an Local Education Agency (LEA) maintain all control of federal funds, materials, equipment, and property. LEAs may make purchases and contract for services on behalf of the private school, but shall not reimburse the private school for any purchases or contract of services made by the private school (CARES Act, Section 18005(b)).
Paying Employees and Contractors
As part of the application process, you must sign an assurance that the LEA is paying employees and contractors to the greatest extent practicable. For details, visit the Paying Employees and Contractors to the Greatest Extent Practicable page.
Allowable costs incurred on or after March 13, 2020 may be included.
- ESSER Funds (I, II, III) Guidance on Public Allowable Costs (Google doc)
- ESSER I Funds (CARES Act) Guidance on Private Allowable Costs (Google doc)
- WUFAR Coding for CARES Act Funds
- FAQ guidance from the U.S. Department of Education about using ESSER and GEER funds to address expanded cybersecurity needs that arise due to shifts in hybrid learning
Please note that including costs incurred between March 13 and June 30, 2020 may require shortened timelines due to LEA revenue recognition policies. LEA program staff, business officials, and auditors should work together to insure the process and timeline for submitting budgets and claims allows alignment of ESSER revenues with expenditures.
The CARES Act requires that an Local Education Agency (LEA) maintain all control of federal funds, materials, equipment, and property. LEAs may make purchases and contract for services on behalf of the private school, but LEAs may not reimburse the private school for any purchases or contract of services made by the private school (CARES Act, Section 18005(b)).