In January 2024, the U.S Department of Education (ED) updated the procedures school districts and state education agencies will use to request extensions for liquidating/spending nearly $130 billion in federal pandemic aid.

In a letter sent to state education agencies outlining the process for requesting American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) funding extensions, ED describes a process that will be similar to what was announced for ESSER I and II, with some important differences, such as an emphasis on ensuring the extended funding “contributes to the acceleration of academic success for students, including those furthest from opportunity and with the greatest need.” The Department is encouraging ARP ESSER III grantees to highlight investments in three of the evidence-based strategies that can significantly contribute to improved student performance:

  • increasing access to before-school, afterschool, summer learning and extended learning time
  • increasing daily student attendance
  • providing high-quality tutoring

State agencies, school districts and other subrecipients of ESSER III funding can request up to 14 months extension, on a case by case basis, for liquidation of funds. Funds must still be obligated by September 30, 2024, but approval of the extension would shift the spending/liquidation deadline from January 2025 to up to March 2026. Under no circumstances may a state or subgrantee enter into new contracts relating to ESSER III funds after September 30, 2024. This is not a blanket extension and the Department has also released a template form for state agencies to request the extra time on behalf of state agencies and districts, as well as a new frequently asked questions resource. Learn more on our blog as well.

Learn about how afterschool and summer learning programs are using pandemic relief funds with our map, City, State, and School District Investments in Afterschool and Summer Learning. This map shows hundreds of examples of state and local agencies are investing these critical funds into afterschool and summer learning programs.

What funding was available?

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The American Rescue Plan provided $500 billion that can be used in part to support young people during the hours they are out of school. Funds specifically available for afterschool and summer programs in the Plan include: 

  • $8.45B available from SEAs, including: 
    • $1.22B set-aside for summer enrichment
    • $1.22B set-aside for afterschool programs
    • 5%, approximately, $6.1B, for learning recovery, which can include afterschool/summer/ELT
  • $22B provided to LEAs for learning recovery strategies, including afterschool and summer enrichment
  • $39 billion for child care, which can include school-age care, which will flow to state child care agencies 
  • $1 billion for Corporation for National and Community Service through  AmeriCorps for AmeriCorps positions to help address learning recovery and other purposes
  • $350 billion for state and local governments that can be used in part for child care and other purposes

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What was the timeline for distribution of funds?

Enlarge this timeline.

ESSER Funding Timeline

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Evidence-based strategies & examples of programs supporting students’ recovery

  • Key Principles for Expanding Learning to Support Student Re-Engagement — A full guide to expanded learning policy and implementation at the local, state, and federal levels, which is particularly important as our country moves to recovery from COVID-19.
  • The evidence base for afterschool and summer – A sourced listing of research on outcomes for youth (April 2021). Also see our searchable Research resources.  
  • Community Learning Hubs — A resource priovding key considerations in creating Community Learning Hubs, as well as lessons learned to inform the robust supports needed for students’ recovery post-pandemic.
  • December 2021: Comprehensive Afterschool Programs — A one pager that describes and defines comprehensive afterschool programs, including what the evidence shows about outcomes, a puzzle graphic detailing program components, and the key principles for effective programs.
  • Use this March 2022 National Association of State Boards of Education article with education leaders to share examples and strategies to support students and strengthen the education system by employing an “all hands on deck” approach that engages afterschool, summer learning, and community partners to meet students’ immediate needs and catalyze a transformation in where and how learning takes place.

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