Three Covid-19 Relief funding rounds for schools means thousands of dollars per pupil in targeted funds for programs like Budget Challenge

The federal Department of Education has provided three rounds of Covid-19 relief funds to K-12 schools in the form of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER Funds). The first round provided roughly $13.2 billion to allow schools to purchase the necessary PPE as well as devices for students. The second round of funding (ESSER II fund), passed in December 2020, includes $54.3 billion in relief, with a minimum of 90% required to go directly to local school districts. The American Rescue Plan ESSER funds (ARP ESSER or ESSER III) totaled $122.8 billion.

This is an historic and unprecedented level of funding for schools. Allocations are based on Title I funding levels but even schools who do not receive Title I funds received funds. The total allocation averages out to $3700 per student! To make sense of all this funding, the team at Budget Challenge has put together this interactive map to show district level allocations as they are published by the individual states. As allocations are published. we will continue to update our map. If you would like to use Budget Challenge but haven't secured funding, please know that Budget Challenge is a 100% allowable expense for ESSER funds. Many districts are still learning about ESSER and most do not have clear processes in place. You will want to be both patient and persistent and may need to do some educating of your administration to use these funds. The first step is to log in or register and request a quote today for your school.

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Covid-19 Relief Funding by State


No, the ESSER funds have been allocated to your district and must be expended by the district according to the guidelines or they are forfeited. To get funding you will want to get a quote from us to give to whoever typically approves purchases (department head, principal business manager, etc.). Just provide us with your estimated number of students. It is important that you tell them that it is an expense that is 100% reimbursable with ESSER funds. It may take them a while to wrap their head around the process, so keep reminding them. The money is available.

They are mistaken. The FAQs published by the federal government address this. It is #15. We made the relevant sentence bold. Source:

15. How much flexibility does an LEA have in determining the activities to support with ESSER funds? The ESSER Fund provides LEAs considerable flexibility in determining how best to use ESSER funds (see Section 18003(d)). For example, LEAs may use ESSER funds for personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning and sanitizing materials, and similar supplies necessary to maintain school operations during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Since learning can and should continue, the Department encourages LEAs to target ESSER funding on activities that will support remote learning for all students, especially disadvantaged or at-risk students, and their teachers.

Budget Challenge is a complete on-line curriculum including a 17 chapter e-textbook and 10-week, real-time, live financial simulation with Help Desk support. It is not theoretically an activity that supports remote learning. It has been used by thousands of students in remote and hybrid learning environments since the pandemic began. We heard from dozens of teachers, thanking us for the program and its effectiveness. One of the reasons this is a priority is that schools need to be prepared in case of future waves to return to remote or blended in a way that is less detrimental to learning.

They are probably thinking of the smallest ESSER I allocation. Very few schools have spent all their ESSER II allocations, and none have spent all their ESSER III or ARP ESSER funds. You will want to tactfully let them know that there are three programs. Most ARP ESSER allocations were announced this summer so many schools are unaware of their funding

Yes, ESSER III is part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan President Biden signed into law in March of 2021. ESSER III has about $123 billion in additional funding for schools. So, most districts can expect to get more than twice what they were allocated under ESSER III. Overall, it is the biggest infusion of new funding into schools in history and represents an average of several thousand dollars per student in new funds.

Yes. Just request an estimate. You lock in the price, use the funds, and receive an additional 10% discount off the educational pricing for any additional years beyond the first.

Yes, as long as you are a not-for-profit school. Funds will come from the public Local Education Agency you are located in. It may take a while but you will be receiving funding.

The first thing you will want to do is request an estimate for the number of students you expect to have. You will want to provide this along with any supporting information to the person who approves purchases in your building. That might be a department head or principal. If unsure ask. It may then need approval from someone in your district central office. You will want to reiterate that Budget Challenge is a 100% allowable expense under these programs.

There may be other sources of funding for the program in your district. Most schools pay for Budget Challenge with technology, software subscriptions, curriculum, and or textbook dollars. When used in a CTE class it can be paid for with federal Perkins Grant funds. If none of those options work, we can help you find a sponsor such as a local credit union, bank, or insurance agency to pay for the program.