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American Rescue Plan ESSER III afterschool and summer implementation update: States efforts, new tools, and more

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American Rescue Plan ESSER III afterschool and summer implementation update: States efforts, new tools, and more

Since President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) into law on March 11, 2021, state education agencies (SEAs) have been working to maximize the impact of the $122 billion in federal education funds to support students impacted by the pandemic.  While SEAs have until June 7, 2021, to submit their state ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) plan to the federal Department of Education, there are already several examples of how state level set aside funding is being used to support summer enrichment, comprehensive afterschool, and learning recovery programs. See a selection of examples below.

As states finalize their plans for ARP ESSER funds, many are posting draft plans and soliciting comments and feedback from stakeholders including out of school time providers and parents. Check your own state’s education department COVID-19 relief page for opportunities to provide feedback. And while states are asked to determine their plans for ARP ESSER funds this year, the funds can be spent over the next several years. The Afterschool Alliance recently posted a timeline showing upcoming deadlines for states to obligate their federal education funds from the CARES Act, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act, as well as the American Rescue Plan.

To help states with their plans and offer guidance to both SEAs and LEAs, the Department of Education recently released a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document that provides more than 60 pages of guidance on a number of allowable uses for the funding.  Among the questions addressed are several on allowable uses of school districts’ funds, with this answer on page 12 of the FAQ relating to whether school districts can award part of their ESSER funds to community-based organizations through contracts or agreements:

“An LEA may provide services directly or enter into an agreement (e.g., a contract or interagency agreement consistent with procurement requirements or otherwise legally authorized) for allowable activities under ESSER.”

The FAQ should be helpful to both state education agencies and local districts and schools that are partnering with community based organizations to support afterschool and summer learning opportunities using ESSER funds.

The following state level examples, as of May 28, 2021, illustrate how ARP ESSER funding is being used to provide evidence-based afterschool and summer programs to students, often in coordination with state afterschool entities and providing funds to both school based and community based afterschool and summer programs:

Connecticut

On April 21, 2021, the governor’s office announced a total of $11 million in funds to be directed towards the expansion of programs that connect students to summer learning opportunities. A competitive grant application supported by the Connecticut After School Network was conducted in late April and early May. Funding is being awarded for expansion grants, which offer up to $25,000 to local organizations that provide existing enrichment; and innovation grants, which offer up to $250,000 to regional or statewide entities seeking to provide bold and innovative summer enrichment programming at scale. The summer enrichment grant program was funded by the ARP ESSER 1% summer enrichment set aside.

Massachusetts

On April 30, 2021, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the establishment of summer learning opportunities and the availability of more than $70 million in funding for school districts and community–based organizations to offer summer learning and recreational programs “that will help students, who have been impacted by a year of remote and hybrid learning, grow academically and socially.” Among the efforts to be funded are the following:

  • Help camps and community organizations expand educational enrichment as part of their existing summer programs by making at least $3 million in funding available.
  • Summer School Matching Grants: The state department of education will offer summer school matching grants, up to $15 million in federal ESSER funds, for school districts to offer 4-to-6-week, in-person programs with a mix of in-person academic and recreational activities. The Department is making these funds available to schools to enhance or expand their existing summer programs while also including mental health services and additional supports for students with individualized education plans and English learners.
  • Summer Acceleration to College: High school graduates from the Class of 2021 will be able to participate in Summer Acceleration to College, a new program that provides recent graduates access to credit-bearing math and English courses at no cost to them as they prepare for college. Fourteen community colleges in the Commonwealth will participate in this program, expected to be funded at $1 million. 
  • Summer Step Up: The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) will support school districts to offer Summer Step Up, a new program aimed at giving extra support to young learners entering school in the fall. Young children, who have had limited in-school experiences due to the pandemic, will be able to take part in summer learning opportunities developed in conjunction with community partners to help prepare them for school. The Administration will commit up to $10 million to this program.
  • Provide early literacy tutoring grants this summer and during the 2021-22 school year, funded at $10 million.

New Hampshire

The state Department of Education and Prenda schools collaborated to offer the Recovering Bright Future program, a grant opportunity to establish learning pods for students in fall 2021, utilizing American Rescue Plan state set aside funds. School districts and communities can apply for funds to support the creation of District Learning pods, as well as Community Learning Pods for students who do not have access to a District Learning Pod. Also leveraging COVID-19 recovery funds, the state’s Department of Education is partnering with New Hampshire camps and school-age summer programs to create the Rekindling Curiosity program. Through the program, up to $650 per child in camp fees can be covered by the state Department of Education. Eligible programs can learn more through the Rekindling Curiosity FAQ.

North Dakota

According to the proposed North Dakota state ARP ESSER plan, the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI) plans to spend 1% of the state’s total allocation of ARP ESSER funds for evidence-based comprehensive afterschool programs ($3,052,699) to offer a before and after school grant opportunity statewide. Eligible applicants include school districts, community-based organizations such as the Boys/Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and other agencies providing services to schools. Approximately one-third of North Dakota school districts receive 21st CCLC funding for afterschool programming, therefore the remaining two-thirds of school districts will be targeted for this new afterschool grant opportunity, in addition to a wide variety of community-based organizations.

Oklahoma

In early May the Oklahoma State Department of Education announced plans to invest a minimum of $14 million in federal stimulus funds for summer enrichment through 2023 as part ARP ESSER state set aside funds. Additionally individual school districts are leveraging their own federal aid to expand student learning opportunities after the school year ends this month. The $14 million initiative, called Ready Together Oklahoma, utilizes the 1 percent set aside of state funds for summer enrichment and encourages summer programs to take a "whole child" holistic approach to aid student recovery, address academic loss and provide food, extracurricular activities, and mental health support. The state Education Department will award $6 million to the Oklahoma Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs and the Oklahoma Alliance of YMCAs to provide youth summer programming. The state agency will announce more available grants in the coming weeks for non-profits to offer summer and afterschool opportunities.

Vermont

Summer Matters for All Grant Program, a collaboration between Vermont Afterschool, Governor Phil Scott’s office, Senator Bernie Sanders’ office, and the Vermont Agency of Education, made awards to 39 summer programs in late May. This was a highly competitive process with 188 proposals submitting $7,427,584 in requests, which far exceeded the available funding of $1.5 million. Grants ranging from $20,000 to $75,000 were awarded to non-profit organizations and other youth-serving entities seeking to create or expand summer learning programs for K-12 children and youth. 

Utah

According to their draft state ARP plan, the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) is working to align the two ARP ESSER state set aside funding streams for evidence-based summer learning and evidenced-based afterschool programming into one competitive grant application process. The combined grant programs would make approximately $12.3 million available to afterschool and summer learning providers. The SEA made the decision with input from community leaders, who noted that the foundational partnerships between Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) were strongest if it was a year-round effort to support students and families. By aligning these two efforts, USBE is creating the conditions to build more sustainable and long-term collaborations beyond the timeframe of the ARP ESSER awards in an effort to ultimately better serve students and families with services and supports that align school and enrichment programs. As part of the plan, the Utah Afterschool Network would provide technical assistance and professional development and training and use of evidence-based practices to programs funded under the new set aside grant program.

States using other federal Coronavirus relief funds to provide evidence-based afterschool and summer programs to students

Arizona

On April 29, 2021, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced that the state was distributing $26.5 million to “support summer learning programs, reach struggling students, enhance student achievement and expand tutoring opportunities.” The investments included $5,000,000 for Boys and Girls Clubs Summer Programming to start in May and go through summer 2021. Clubs will open for extended hours to deliver academic success programs designed to mitigate learning loss, particularly among underserved youth. Youth will also be able to participate in full-day programs that include meals, gym time, outdoor play, art, and music. Funding for these summer programs will cover scholarships to serve 4,000 youth per week for eight weeks, at locations all across Arizona. The dollars being distributed by the state came from Governor’s Emergency Education Relief funding, part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of March 2020.

Maryland

In early May, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan visited a Boys and Girls Club in West Baltimore to launch “Project Bounce Back,” an effort to help kids recover from the stress and isolation of the coronavirus pandemic, funded by $25 million in federal aid. Project Bounce Back will rely on a public-private partnership between state education and crime prevention agencies, the Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs of Maryland and a series of private businesses to provide a “critical support network” for children and families. The initiative will expand Boys & Girls Clubs of Maryland to every jurisdiction in the state with the hope of reaching 45,000 youth, primarily in low-income school districts and rural areas, and will create a mentorship program with Maryland State Police to bolster police-community relations. The funding was provided through the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the Department of Justice as part of the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) Program authorized by the CARES Act of March 2020.

Michigan

On March 9, 2021, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law Michigan Public Act 3 of 2021 which appropriates $152.4 million in federal funding for summer programming, credit recovery, and before-and afterschool programming as part of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) II Fund that was authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act that passed in December 2020. In addition, $10 million in state aid funding was appropriated for innovative summer programming or credit recovery programs. Funding opportunities include:

  • $90 million in federal funding allocated for grades K-8 summer programs that are offered as part of COVID-19 remediation services.
  • $17.4 million in federal funding allocated for before-school, afterschool, or before-and afterschool programs.
  • $10 million in state school aid funding allocated for innovative summer and credit recovery programming. A program that is designated as innovative may include, without limitation, one or more of the following: community-based projects, integrated kinesthetic or cognitive growth programs, STEM-based programs, outdoor or adventure-based programs, any programs that integrate public and private partnerships.

Minnesota

On May 15, Governor Tim Walz announced a plan to fund enhanced summer learning programs in Minnesota to help students recover from the learning challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor allocated $75 million from the state’s flexible American Rescue Plan State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF) administered at the federal level by the Department of Treasury to provide academic enrichment and mental health support this summer and beyond for Minnesota’s students, families, educators, communities, and schools. Funding includes:

  • Academic and Mental Health Support ($34.614 million) Public schools and districts will receive a general allocation in order to create partnerships with organizations and provide services in the following areas: expand mental health and well-being support to youth and adolescents attending school district and charter school summer learning programs; partner with community businesses and organizations to develop a summer mentor and/or tutoring model that covers enrichment programming and other costs such as transportation and meals to increase student participation; bring school-based summer programs into the community, providing opportunities for enrichment, social and emotional skill building, mental health support, and tutoring services; and provide students with summer field trips for hands-on learning opportunities. Hands-on learning opportunities include activities such as trips to nature centers, state parks, zoos, museums, or theaters.
  • Preschool for 4- and 5-Year-Olds ($20 million) This allocation provides preschool or prekindergarten to 4- and 5-year-olds. These funds can be used in a Parent Aware star-rated, public or private, preschool, or prekindergarten in-person learning program. These high-quality early learning programs help children develop their social-emotional skills before they begin kindergarten.
  • School-Linked Mental Health Grants ($6.011 million) This investment in School-linked Mental Health Grants, administered by the Department of Human Services, will address an increased need for community mental health services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Expanded Access to Tutoring ($3.25 million) The Governor will expand access to tutoring services including academic enrichment, mental health support, and other wrap-around services for K-12 children by providing grants to experienced entities, including community organizations.

South Carolina

On April 21, 2021, Governor McMaster announced a $12.05 million investment in the state Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), with funds allocated as follows:

  • $4.0 million for the South Carolina Afterschool Alliance to work with DJJ to provide summer and after-school programs to at-risk middle school students in primarily rural areas.
  • $4.8 million for community-based and evidenced-based therapy programs targeted to keep children in school and living at home. The therapists will work within the homes, schools, and communities to address the mental health and risky behaviors of students. Family
    therapists will also provide intensive in-home family counseling. 
  • $2.0 million for full-time mentoring programs that support education and life skills development. The objective is to decrease incarceration and out-of-home placement rates by reducing crime, and anti-social behaviors such as drug abuse.
  • $1.25 million for Teen After-School Centers, which support at-risk high school students. These centers have documented success in reducing recidivism, absences, and out-of-school suspensions while improving grades. DJJ will provide GED testing to youth through the Centers.

The funding is made possible through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund as authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.

Wisconsin

The governor’s office announced $50 million in grants through their “Beyond the Classroom” program. Non-profit organizations that serve school-age kids virtually and in-person outside of school and during the summer months are able to apply for up to $500,000 each. The funds were provided through the American Rescue Plan State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF) administered at the federal level by the Department of Treasury.

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BY: Erik Peterson      12/16/20

Senate funding bills released with flat funding for afterschool

On Tuesday, Nov. 10, the Senate Appropriations Committee released their twelve Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 2021) spending bills. The government is currently being funded under a continuing resolution (CR) that expires on Dec. 11. A spending deal must be reached by that date to avoid a government...

BY: Jillian Luchner      11/12/20

Recapping impressive OST work in summer 2021—and looking ahead to summer 2022

As the winter air blows in, it’s the perfect time to warm up with thoughts of summer. In fact, many school districts and afterschool programs know that planning for summer begins in the fall. Fortunately, the hard work programs, partners, and schools undertook during summer 2021 provided...

BY: Jillian Luchner      12/07/21

State child care stabilization grants open with many afterschool programs eligible

As the afterschool field continues to navigate the American Rescue Plan (ARP) opportunities for K-12 funding through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER) at the state and local level, ARP also designated $24 billion in child care funding to states to help stabilize the...

BY: Jillian Luchner      11/18/21

ARP ESSER state plans are in! More funds are hitting the ground at the state and local level

With the 2021-2022 school year in full-swing, the federal American Rescue Plan relief funds are making important impacts in states and communities. At this point, all 50 states have submitted their Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) plans. The Department of Education is...

BY: Jillian Luchner      11/11/21

49 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico submitted ARP state plans, 37 approved (Part 4)

As summer officially turned to fall this month, almost all states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, have now submitted their proposed state plans for the use of American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) Funds to the US Department of Education, and...

BY: Erik Peterson      10/01/21

New learning loss recovery guidance and survey data suggest strong role for afterschool

Last week, as students across the country continued to return to in-person learning, new survey data released from AASA – The School Superintendents Association, as well as additional guidance on learning loss recovery from the US Department of Education, suggests there is more work to be...

BY: Erik Peterson      09/09/21

Virtual Hill Briefing recap: Helping Students Recover and Accelerating Success

On July 20, the House Afterschool Caucus in partnership with the Afterschool Alliance hosted a Capitol Hill Briefing Helping Students Recover and Accelerating Success for congressional staff and afterschool stakeholders. With a proven track record for increasing resilience, supporting positive...

BY: Maria Rizo      07/22/21

Approaches to supporting afterschool and summer in state plans for education relief spending (Part 2)

An advantage of a country made of states, territories, and tribal lands is the amount of innovation across boundaries that can help us learn from one another. This blog is the second in a series on the state American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER)...

BY: Jillian Luchner      07/16/21

State ARP plans: Supporting afterschool and summer enrichment (Part 1)

It has been more than one month since state education agencies were asked to submit their proposed state plans for the use of American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) Funds to the US Department of Education. To date, the Department has posted state...

BY: Erik Peterson      07/09/21

Draft Child Care Plans for 2022-24 boast strong examples of school-age policy

It’s already July! And that means state’s Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) plans for 2022-2024 have been submitted to the Office of Child Care to meet the July 1 deadline. The plans, which will now be reviewed by the Office of Child Care, go into effect October 1 of this year. These...

BY: Jillian Luchner      07/01/21

Child Care Stabilization Grant Program guidance offers many school-age opportunities

On Monday, May 10 the Office of Child Care issued guidance on the $24 billion in funding for the Child Care Stabilization Grant Program created in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021. Funds are given to state agencies using the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) formula and state allocations...

BY: Jillian Luchner      05/27/21

House of Representatives passes Build Back Better Act

On Friday, November 19, 2021, the House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act by a vote of 220-213. The legislation invests in programs that support human infrastructure and includes parts...

BY: Erik Peterson      11/22/21

State child care stabilization grants open with many afterschool programs eligible

As the afterschool field continues to navigate the American Rescue Plan (ARP) opportunities for K-12 funding through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER) at the state and local level, ARP also designated $24 billion in child care funding to states to help stabilize the...

BY: Jillian Luchner      11/18/21

Senate Democrats LHHS bill proposes $50 million increase to 21st CCLC as FY2022 Appropriations process continues

This week Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) released the nine remaining fiscal year FY 2022 appropriations bills that the Senate has not yet addressed, including the FY 2022 Labor-HHS-Education bill.  The bills are partisan in nature, and the Committee is unlikely...

BY: Erik Peterson      10/21/21

ARP Webinar Series Recap: How to access ARP funds for afterschool and summer

The Afterschool Alliance hosted a webinar series to help programs understand how billions of dollars provided by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) can be used to support afterschool and summer programs. While funds go directly to education and child care agencies, programs are specifically mentioned...

BY: Maria Rizo      07/26/21

Approaches to supporting afterschool and summer in state plans for education relief spending (Part 2)

An advantage of a country made of states, territories, and tribal lands is the amount of innovation across boundaries that can help us learn from one another. This blog is the second in a series on the state American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER)...

BY: Jillian Luchner      07/16/21

Guidance on $15 billion in Supplemental Child Care Funding released, including opportunities to increase staff wages

On June 11, the Office of Child Care (OCC) released the long-awaited guidance for the $15 billion of American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act CCDF Discretionary Supplemental funds. The guidance comes about one month after earlier guidance on the ARP’s $24 billion Stabilization Grant Funds. States...

BY: Jillian Luchner      06/25/21

Biden administration releases full FY 2022 budget proposal, increases afterschool funding

On May 28, the Biden administration released its full FY 2022 discretionary budget request, about six weeks after releasing an initial budget blueprint. With regard to education, the proposal includes $1.31 billion for the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers, an increase of $52...

BY: Erik Peterson      05/28/21

The Biden administration’s American Family Plan – what it means for afterschool

In late April, President Joe Biden released the American Families Plan, the second part of an overall infrastructure proposal and a complementary piece to the American Jobs Plan. Congress is now holding bipartisan conversations to identify infrastructure priorities. The American Families...

BY: Erik Peterson      05/07/21

Department of Education releases plan template for American Rescue Plan education funds

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education released the State plan application that will support states in describing how they will use resources under the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III (ARP ESSER III) fund to continue to support students...

BY: Erik Peterson      04/28/21

Bipartisan CORPS Act re-introduced in Senate

Last week, a bi-partisan group of senators, led by Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) introduced legislation to strengthen national service opportunities, particularly in responding to COVID-19. The Cultivating Opportunity and Response to the Pandemic through Service...

BY: Erik Peterson      04/23/21