Understanding ESSER I, II and III Disbursements

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Understanding ESSER I, II, and III Disbursements

by Michelle Kinley, Silverback Learning Systems

ESSER funds have been released under three different acts. In March of 2020, the first set of ESSER funds were disbursed under the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid Relief & Economic Security Act). In January of 2020, ESSER II funds were released under the CRSSA Act (Coronavirus Response & Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act) and ESSER III funds were disbursed under the ARPA Act (American Rescue Pan Act) in December of 2021.  

In total, emergency allocations made under all three ESSER funds total almost $192 Billion dollars. In order to secure the funds, local education agencies (LEAs) must apply to the State Education Agency (SEA). All state education agencies must offer local education agencies 90% of the funds allocated. The remaining 10% can be retained by the State Education Agency to address emergency needs. 

The ESSER fund allocations made to each state are based on Title I (part A) funds. Title I schools will have more funds available to them than non Title I schools. 

So, what can these funds be used for?

  • Training to address changes
    to instruction
  • High-quality assessments
  • Everything under I & II
  • Access to high-quality instruction
  • High-quality literacy initiatives
  • Reserves 5% for evidence-based activities tied to learning loss
  • Address supplemental
    learning needs
  • Evidence-based activities
  • 1% set aside to implement summer enrichment programs
  • Addressing needs of students
    at risk
  • Parental support
  • .05% set aside for administrative costs
  • Addressing needs of low income,
    foster, and homeless students
  • Distance Learning
  • Summer learning
  • Addressing learning loss
  • Purchasing of educational
    technology to support student
    achievement and interation
  • High impact activities

 Districts have a lot on their plates as they navigate all that COVID has brought. Data aggregation and assessing student learning losses are high on the list. Districts also now have the need to access data quickly and remotely when needed. 

 The tracking and spending of ESSER funds make multi-year educational technology contracts possible. Many ed-tech companies are offering discounts to assist districts in setting these multi-year contracts up. It makes the decision-making process not so stressful with the  ESSER I funds available for spending through September 30, 2022, and ESSER II & III funds available for spend until September of 2023.


What is your State Doing? Use this tracker to find out how much your state has been awarded as well as how much has been spent and where.  Check out this fact sheet to understand the differences between the ESSER Fund (CARES Act) and ESSER II Fund (CRRSA Act). 

 Ms. Michelle Kinley is currently serving as the Chief Marketing and Government Affairs Officer for Silverback Learning Solutions. Michelle started in the classroom as a special education teacher. Over the last 20 years, Michelle has been heavily involved in online learning and educational technology with a special emphasis on educational governance and strategy.