ESSER Overview


Federal Stimulus Funds for COVID-19 Recovery 

DCPS has received federal stimulus funds to support COVID-19 recovery. The stimulus funds will support student learning acceleration and critical system supports. 

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) I Fund 

As background, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act enacted March 27, 2020 authorized the ESSER fund. DCPS’ award for ESSER I is $22.0M, of which DCPS had to allocate $3.0M to provide equitable services to private schools, which is required under the law. DCPS began using these grant funds in Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) and expects to spend all remaining funds in Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21). 

Deliberative Spend Plan for ESSER I 

  • $16 million: Technology. These funds support additional student devices and internet connectivity. 
  • $1.5 million: Staffing.  These funds support 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. 
  • $0.8 million: Teaching and learning. These funds support various instructional materials and updates to curricular materials for virtual learning. 
  • $0.7 million: School opening. These funds support start-up costs for Military road and building readiness.  
  • $3 million: Equitable services to private schools. As required under the law. 


On December 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act authorized ESSER II. For ESSER II, DCPS has not yet received the grant award from OSSE, though the formula-driven award is estimated at approximately $80 million. Notably, ESSER II does not require the provision of equitable services to private schools under the law. DCPS expects to begin spending the funds in FY21 and spending throughout Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) as well. 

Deliberative Spend Plan for ESSER II 

  • $33 million: Learning Acceleration and Social Emotional Supports. Supports 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 Most funds will be allocated directly to schools based on their enrollment and population of students identified as at-risk. Starting this spring, each school will take a grassroots engagement approach with their teachers, staff, families, and community to develop a tailored learning recovery plan for summer and beyond. 
    $27 million: Technology and Related Supports for Students and Educators. Facilitates centralized purchasing to ensure all teachers have in life-cycle laptops  and 1:1 devices for students in grades 3-12, brings schools to a 3:1 ratio for grades PK-2, and ensures technical support for students and staff. 
  • $10 million: Central Supports for Schools, Students, and Families.  Supports key operational services such as athletics, food services, curriculum and special education evaluation support, and family engagement and enrollment efforts. 
  • $9 million: In-Person Learning Innovations.  Encourages schools to develop creative approaches to in-person learning outside of the traditional school classroom, such as outdoor learning and learning partnerships. 

Methodology for Funds Allocated to Schools

  • SEL Funds. Allocations are based on schools’ proportion of total student enrollment.
  • Acceleration Funds. Funds are allocated based on schools’ proportion of projected students designated at-risk under the UPSFF definition, with the following modifications: 1) Students designated at-risk at elementary schools are weighted at 1.3, given that research shows that students’ learning at the elementary level has been more significantly impacted by the pandemic than that of students at the secondary level. 2) Inspiring Youth Program (IYP), Youth Services Center (YSC), and Opportunity Academy programs students are not designated as at-risk through the UPSFF. For this allocation, IYP and YSC were funded as 100% at-risk, and Opportunity academies at 75% at-risk. 3) Schools where the formula generated total allocations under $50,000 were given additional funds to get to a floor of $50,000.

Future Stimulus Funds 

Congress is considering additional federal investments for schools. DCPS is following these legislative developments and will consider how to use further aid to supplement students’ learning.