The Intersection

How States are Using Federal Relief Dollars for K-12 Education

May 14, 2021


Page updated December 17, 2021

Multiple federal relief funding streams are being used to support K-12 education. The Hunt Institute combined tracking of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) State Reserves, Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Funds, and Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to provide an overall picture of how states are investing their relief dollars. Each of these three funding streams have been used by states to support K-12 education.

The map and table below are intended to be a resource to state leaders who are interested in exploring ways to invest their remaining education dollars. It provides an overview of specific categories of funding that The Hunt Institute created after reviewing state plans, reports, and other documentation. This resource does not include all ways that states have used federal relief dollars, but instead focuses specifically on the selected categories outlined in the map and table below.

By selecting one or multiple categories, you can see which states are spending their federal relief dollars on those education categories, as well as the funding stream they are using for those investments.

This resource will be continually updated as more state decisions are made – check back often for updates!


Description of Categories

Baseline/Minimum Funding:  Funds directed to districts or other public school units in order to bring them up to a minimum level of funding. States use state reserve funds in this manner, for example, to provide a per pupil amount to schools that did not receive federal Title 1A funds and therefore did not receive a portion of the formula LEA allotments of ESSER funds.

Beyond Traditional Public Schools: Includes states that made funding available to non-public schools – either as part of a larger program or as a separate funding stream – as well as states that dedicated funding specifically to charter school grants or to juvenile justice or other facilities. [NOTE: states that provided equivalent funds to their residentials schools, juvenile justice facilities, or tribal schools, but did not provide separate dedicated funding to charter or non-public schools may not be included in this category.]

Career/College Transition: Includes pandemic-related supports specifically for CTE students or instructors, primarily addressing the more “hands on” nature of CTE coursework through support for safe in-person instruction or specialized software for remote learning, or workforce training programs. Also includes programs to help high school students transition successfully to higher education and dual enrollment or other early college opportunities. Funding may flow to institutes of higher education.

Childcare: Includes funding directed to childcare providers or to support childcare for school age and young children, most commonly as a support for critical workers and supervised care for students in virtual learning.

Curricula & Instruction: Includes programs and supports such as training for teachers and curricula or instructional supports that are broader than math and literacy.

Curricula & Instruction: Literacy: Includes literacy programs and supports such as training for teachers, literacy screeners or assessments, and curricula.

Curricula & Instruction: Math/STEM: Includes math or STEM programs and supports such as training for teachers, curricula, and other focused programs.

Data and Assessment: Includes assessments, progress monitoring, personalized learning, longitudinal data system augmentation, and program evaluation.

Early Childhood: Includes expansion or additional funding for preK or other early education programs and supports for early childcare facilities.

Educator/Administrator Support: Includes activities such as leadership training, professional learning communities, and teacher retention supports. These activities may be supported through funding of regional support organizations.

Family/Adult: Includes programs that target adult learners, such as GED programs, as well as activities to engage parents and families in learning (i.e. multi-generational literacy programs).

Grants for Innovation: Includes competitive grant programs to LEAs to come up with innovative practices or programs to address the impact of the pandemic.

Infrastructure: Includes funding for activities such as air filtration system upgrades or other capital repairs, renovations, or construction.

In-Person Health: Includes activities designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during in-person learning, such as testing, contact tracing, PPE/cleaning, and supporting social distancing, in schools or on school transportation.

Learning Loss (pre-ARP): Includes strategies to mitigate learning loss and address learning gaps, that states funded prior to the implementation of ARP. If the program is specific to out-of-school or tutoring, it will be shown in those categories.

Multipurpose/Other: Includes funding with broad flexibility for use, such as per-pupil allocations to districts for pandemic-related uses, or grant opportunities with multiple categories of allowable uses. Also includes school nutrition funding and other uncommon uses of state-level funds. Generally indicates that states have spent funding on activities not described elsewhere.

Out of School Programs – Local Programs: Includes funding for summer enrichment or recovery programs, before or after school programs, run by districts, community/other organizations, or both. Programs are typically funded by allocations or grants.

Out of School Programs – State Activity: Includes state contracts/partnerships with specific providers for programs operated outside of the school day/year, or state technical support or guidance provided to locally procured/operated programs.

Remote Instruction: Includes expenditures on learning management systems, professional development on remote or blended instruction, and digital curricula.

Remote: Closing Digital Divide: Includes expenditures on student or staff devices and on connectivity such as mobile wi-fi hot spots.

Remote: Internet Safety: While most states invested in technology supports, this category includes those states that expended funds to improve some element of cybersecurity.

Special Education and English Learners: Includes funding specifically dedicated to supporting students with disabilities and/or English language learners, or funding in which those groups are prioritized populations.

Teacher Recruitment & Diversity: Includes the expenditure of federal relief funds on existing or new programs in expand teacher recruitment or the diversity of the teaching profession.

Tutoring: Includes funding for tutoring programs, both local programs and state initiatives.

Whole Child/Student Engagement: Includes screening and training on social emotional learning, as well as investments in additional physical or mental health supports. Also includes funding for efforts to re-engage students in learning.

[NOTE: While many states chose to use a portion of their education relief funds (primarily ESSER state reserves) for formula or competitive grants to LEAs, for state personnel, for charter schools or other non-LEA public schools that received little or no allocation from the 90 percent allocation to LEAs, and for PPE, sanitization, etc., these broad or short-term uses are not included in the map.]

Additional Resources

U.S. Department of Education, GEER Awards
U.S. Department of Education, ESSER Awards
U.S. Department of Education, Education Stabilization Fund
National Conference of State Legislatures, How Governors Have Spent CARES Education Funds
National Conference of State Legislatures, Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund Tracker
FutureEd, How Governors Are Using Their CARES Act Education Dollars
Education Commission of the States, Arts Education Partnership, The Arts in ESSER State Plans

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