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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      07/14/20

FY21 Appropriations process kicks off in the House

This week the House of Representatives officially began the FY 2021 appropriations process with multiple subcommittee mark-ups. On the evening of July 7 the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (LHHS-ED) and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee marked up its FY 2021 spending...

BY: Erik Peterson      07/08/20

President Biden proposes American Rescue Plan including education funding

On Thursday, January 15, President-elect Biden proposed a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package called the American Rescue Plan which is described as “…the first step of an aggressive, two-step plan” to “change the course of the pandemic, build a bridge towards economic...

BY: Erik Peterson      01/20/21

President-elect Biden nominates Connecticut Education Commissioner Cardona for Sec. of Education

This week U.S. President-elect Joe Biden selected Connecticut education commissioner Miguel Cardona to serve as secretary of education. Commissioner Cardona is a former fourth-grade public school teacher who became the youngest principal in Connecticut and, later, an assistant superintendent of...

BY: Erik Peterson      12/23/20

First glance: What a Biden-Harris administration may mean for afterschool

“Educators, this is a great day for y’all.” – President Elect Joe Biden, November 7, 2020 When President-elect Joe Biden spoke to the nation on Saturday November 7, he specifically pointed to his commitment to the field of education, giving credit to his wife, Dr. Jill...

BY: Jillian Luchner      11/19/20

Election 2020 – a first look at the results from an afterschool policy perspective

Photo by Dan Dennis on Unsplash As of the afternoon of November 6, there was yet to be a definitive result in the 2020 US election at the Presidential, Senate, or House levels. One clear conclusion, however, is that while there are deep divisions in the electorate and in the political system,...

BY: Erik Peterson      11/06/20

One week until the Virtual Afterschool for All Challenge: A policy and appropriations update

A month ago the president released his FY 2021 budget proposal, officially kicking off the appropriations process in Washington, D.C. Since then the House and the Senate Appropriations Committee and Subcommittees have been soliciting spending priorities from members of Congress and the public,...

BY: Erik Peterson      03/10/20

Primary season is here! Where do candidates stand on afterschool?

With the 2020 presidential election only 10 months away and primary voting now under way, it is a good time to check in once again on where the presidential candidates stand on afterschool and summer learning as an issue. As we discussed in our blog last fall, education and childcare has been a...

BY: Erik Peterson      02/13/20

Trump administration proposes eliminating afterschool, again

On a rainy Monday in Washington, the Trump administration released its fiscal year 2021 full budget proposal. The full budget represents the president’s vision for how Congress should spend federal funds for the fiscal year that begins October 1, 2020 (FY 2021) and, for the fourth...

BY: Erik Peterson      02/10/20

FY2020 appropriations update: Afterschool funding increased!

House and Senate appropriators reached an agreement on final subcommittee allocations to avert a shutdown and fund the government past the December 20 deadline.  The final  bi-partisan bill language specifying funding levels for all government programs provides $1.25 billion for...

BY: Erik Peterson      12/17/19

Afterschool and the 2020 presidential candidates

With the 2020 presidential election 16 months away, more than 25 politicians and business leaders have declared themselves candidates. The first round of debates for Democratic candidates has already happened, most candidates are in full time campaign mode, and the first primaries and caucuses are...

BY: Erik Peterson      07/26/19

House appropriators propose substantial increase to 21st CCLC afterschool funding

Update: On May 8, the full House Appropriations Committee voted to approve the FY2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (LHHS) and Related Agencies Appropriations Act by a party line vote of 30 to 23, sending the bill on to the House floor. The approved bill included several changes...

BY: Erik Peterson      05/01/19

State tackles learning loss with new law on summer & afterschool STEAM engagement

With the federal government working hard to get much needed relief funds to states, including for education to help stem some of the harshest effects of COVID, states as well recognize their essential role in recovery. On February 9, Tennessee passed the Tennessee Learning Loss Remediation and...

BY: Jillian Luchner      02/18/21

Two new Community School bills introduced in Congress this fall

For community school adherents, school has always had a central function as a hub of integrated student supports. The COVID health emergency has not only impacted how, where, and when education is delivered but also reinforced the idea of schools as a conduit for children and families to other...

BY: Jillian Luchner      11/10/20

New brief released: State re-opening plans reveal importance of partnerships with afterschool across a broad range of goals

Labor Day has passed and schools are beginning in one form or another all over the U.S. The Afterschool Alliance completed a scan of state school reopening plans identifying where plans see a role for afterschool partners in our new brief, A Review of State Plans for Re-opening: How to Maximize...

BY: Jillian Luchner      09/17/20

How states are using CARES Act funding to support afterschool & summer learning

This Monday, July 27, Senate Republican leadership is expected to release their long-awaited CARES 2 legislative package to provide another round of federal COVID-19 recovery and relief funding and support. While an outline of the bill suggested it will include $15 billion for child care programs...

BY: Erik Peterson      07/24/20

How federal government funding is supporting child care in the states

Economic recovery cannot happen without child care, including quality, comprehensive care for school-age children of working parents. If the concern has not already impacted you directly, you may have become aware from the news stories which keep flooding in. “Will Child Care Be There...

BY: Jillian Luchner      05/12/20

State flexibility supports 21st CCLC ability to adapt to COVID Emergency

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash. As governors, state agencies, and school districts across the U.S. grapple with school closure decisions, the afterschool programs that provide out-of-school time academic support and the child care working parents need are also finding their...

BY: Jillian Luchner      03/24/20

New York City Council considers move to universal afterschool

Today, less than half of New York City public schools offer free city funded afterschool programs. City Councilman Ben Kallos, joined by parents and afterschool advocates, aims to change that. Last week, the New York City Council held a hearing to discuss bill 1100 introduced by Councilman...

BY: Chandler Hall      01/30/20

Vermont’s governor calls for universal access to afterschool programs

In his State of the State address to the Vermont legislature on January 9, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) outlined his 2020 legislative agenda, including a proposal to make K-12 afterschool programming more accessible to Vermonters through implementation of universal afterschool. In the speech, the...

BY: Erik Peterson      01/28/20

Afterschool policy 2019: State legislative round up

State legislatures have been busy this year envisioning new ways to support their constituents and respond to large cultural, social, and financial shifts. Most state budgets were signed by early summer and they, along with other legislative initiatives, show how states are investing in youth...

BY: Jillian Luchner      12/03/19

Fireman costumes to full-on careers: October is a big month to talk career and technical education

It’s been more than a year since the bipartisan passage of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act of 2018 (Perkins V), which reauthorized and updated the federal Perkins CTE law in place since 2006. Afterschool programs can be a great partner as states...

BY: Jillian Luchner      09/30/19