ESSER Overview

At DC Public Schools, we are working as a community to build back stronger than before to create joyful and rigorous learning opportunities, support our excellent educators, and make progress toward educational equity. DCPS will continue to use federal rescue funding to invest in the impacts of the pandemic, including health and safety measures and the academic, social and emotional supports our students need.

In total, DCPS has received over $300M in COVID-19 recovery funds to support our schools.

Congress has authorized three rounds of COVID relief funding since the start of the pandemic. These rounds of funding are referred to as ESSER, which is short for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER). Each of these rounds of ESSER funds are authorized by separate legislative acts signed into law by the president:

  • ESSER I – authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
  • ESSER II – authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act
  • ESSER III – authorized by the American Recovery Plan (ARP) Act



In the first round of ESSER funding, DCPS received $22M, of which DCPS was required by law to allocate $3M to provide equitable services to private schools. DCPS began using these grant funds in Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) and expects to spend all remaining funds in Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21). 

ESSER I Spend Plan

  • $16 million: Technology. These funds supported additional student devices and internet connectivity. 
  • $3 million: Equitable services allocation to private schools. These funds supported purchasing of school safety supplies and equipment, training, and licenses for virtual learning platforms for private schools.
  • $2 million: Summer Learning and Supplemental Programming. These funds supported various instructional materials, updates to curricular materials for virtual learning, start-up costs for Military Road Early Learning Center, and building readiness.
  • $1 million: Staffing. These funds supported staffing costs for programming focused on creating connections with students in transitional grades prior to the start of the school year and for CARE classrooms during the 2020-2021 school year. 



DCPS received $87M under ESSERI II. DCPS began spending the funds in Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) and will continue to spend throughout Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) as well. 

ESSER II Spend Plan

  • $26 million: School-based academic and social emotional acceleration. These funds support the implementation of integrated academic and social emotional learning recovery plans at every school, including for example, summer enrichment programs, extended learning time, and high intensity tutoring. These funds were allocated directly to schools based on their enrollment and population of students identified as at-risk. In spring of 2021, schools engaged their teachers, staff, families, and community to develop a tailored summer acceleration academy and learning recovery plan.
  • $15 million: Technology and Related Supports for Students. These funds support the third and final year of the ELI initiative. The funding ensures every student in grades 3-12 has a device (1:1) and students in grades PK-2 have a device at a 3 student per one device ration (3:1). This funding also supports Microsoft licenses and technical support for students.
  • $13 million: Technology and Related Supports for Educators. These funds allow all teachers have in life-cycle laptops and technical support.
  • $9 million: Teaching and learning and educator professional development. These funds support curriculum and assessments, including the Science of Learning, resources for math acceleration, professional development and more.
  • $9 million: Meal service, warehouse, and curricular support. These funds support key operational services such as athletics, warehouse contracts, food services, curriculum and special education evaluation support, teacher stipends, and family engagement and enrollment efforts. 
  • $9 million: In-Person Learning Innovations. These funds supported schools in developing creative approaches to in-person learning outside of the traditional school classroom, such as outdoor learning furniture, equipment, and supplies, and learning partnerships.
  • $6 million: Other investments in response to mid-year COVID-related needs, including family engagement, and school reopening. These funds support investments to summer youth employment program, graduation venues, family engagement and reopening needs, and term limited staff to support with reopening and management of federal dollars.



DCPS’ award for ESSER III is $195M. DCPS began spending these funds in Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) and will continue to spend these funds in future fiscal years.

Our ESSER III investments are driven by three key focus areas: Providing stability to school budgets, accelerating learning for students most impacted by the pandemic, and the district’s COVID response across safety, operations, and technology.

  • $21 million in FY22 School Budget Support: These funds provide additional financial support to protect school budgets from enrollment fluctuations during COVID.

  • Over $40 million across FY22-FY24 for Academic Acceleration and Social Emotional Learning: Funding will support multi-pronged instructional and whole child strategies to train educators, provide targeted student supports and interventions, and expand enrichment opportunities to mitigate the effects of COVID on student outcomes.In FY23, schools have been budgeted $6M in federal funds to support school-directed evidence-based acceleration programming.

  • $34 million in FY23-FY24 for COVID Recovery To-Date: To continue to address the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, funding continues to support our ongoing COVID needs such as virtual school for medically eligible students and building upgrades and maintenance for SY21-22 school opening through the Department of General Services.

  • $69 million across FY22-FY24 for Planned COVID Response: DCPS has allocated these funds in anticipation of upcoming COVID response needs such as school-based health staff, contact tracers, and enrollment efforts.

  • $21 million across FY22-FY24 for Evolving COVID Response: To support our on-going recovery efforts, DCPS has allocated funds to support academic acceleration, technology for learning, and school operations and infrastructure support.