Leveraging ESSER III Funds for OST & Community Partnerships
On March 11, 2021 President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, putting nearly $2 trillion into all facets of the American economy. This legislation allocates approximately $122 billion to public education through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER, or in this case ESSER III since it is the third round of relief funding), including $12.4 billion for public education and up to $3 billion for out of school time in Texas. You can find the full funding breakdown further below. This is an incredible opportunity and the funding we need to reimagine the future for our kids and all Texans. We must seize this moment to build something sustainable, communal, and equitable.
With these funds, we can take an enormous step closer to reaching every kid in Texas through high-quality OST and doing it in a way that engages whole communities. Together we can design and implement youth- and family-centric supports that will reduce poverty, proactively address racial and gender equity, and catch up those kids who most need us right now. With a collaborative, coordinated effort to advocate at the local, regional, and statewide levels, we can invest in community partnerships to build a sustainable ecosystem of support for whole child development and whole communities. Learn more about TXPOST’s initial advocacy strategies in our strategy memo and how community-based OST program providers can partner with schools in the one-pager below.
TXPOST has developed an ESSER III Advocacy Toolkit to support all Texas OST providers in advocating for funded partnerships with their local school districts. OST providers can access the toolkit via TXPOST’s free virtual community platform, myTXPOST.
If you have any questions or ideas about the ESSER III funding opportunity or advocating to your local school districts to fund a partnership with your organization, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are an education leader and would like to connect with OST program providers in your community, please contact us at email@example.com.
You can hover over (for mobile, click on) the pie chart to see how the total $12.4 billion in ESSER III funds will be allocated to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and local education agencies (LEAs = school districts). In the PDF list, you can see how much your school districts will receive. As an OST provider, we hope you will advocate to your local school districts to partner with you to provide OST programs for their students using funds from their 20% minimum reserve for learning loss, which explicitly calls out summer and afterschool programs as an allowable use.
Timeline & Status
- March 11, 2021: American Rescue Plan (ARP), including ESSER III funds, signed into law
- April 11, 2021: U.S. Department of Education provided states with ESSER III spending guidelines (COVID-19 Handbook Vol. 2), which include OST and summer learning and enrichment as evidence-based interventions for accelerated learning and explicitly recommends partnering with community-based organizations to implement those interventions
- April 28, 2021: State of Texas accepts ARP ESSER III funds from the federal government
- April 29, 2021: School districts can apply to receive their initial allocation of ESSER III funds through the TEA Grant Opportunities webpage. Note: This initial allocation is ⅔ of total district funds. The final ⅓ of district funds will be available after TEA submits and the U.S. DOE approves a state plan
- May 17-21, 2021: TEA collected stakeholder comment and input via focus groups and a survey for developing their state plan
- May 20, 2021: TEA opens applications for community-based tutor providers to become Vetted Texas Tutor Corps approved vendors. Application reviews rolling throughout the summer.
- June 7, 2021: TEA posts its state plan for the use of ESSER III funds and submits it to the U.S. DOE
- July 7, 2021: U.S. DOE approves TEA’s Texas ARP ESSER III State Plan
- September 1, 2021: Deadline for school districts to apply for their allocations of ESSER III funds
- Now: School districts deciding how they will spend ESSER III funds, specifically their 20% reserve for learning loss, which can be used for afterschool and summer programs—they will then likely open up a Request for Proposals (RFP) from community organizations
- Now: TXPOST advocating at state, regional, and local levels for learning loss, summer, and afterschool reserves to be invested in community partnerships
- Now: Community-based organizations advocating to school districts for learning loss reserve to be invested in OST programs with their organizations
Federal & State Information
Texas Education Agency
- Release of ESSER III Formula Funds to Texas Public School Systems (April 28 announcement)
- ARP ESSER III Grant Total Allocation Amounts by School District
- TEA Grant Opportunities webpage (enter “ARP” in keyword in application name search)
- TEA Guidance and FAQs for use of ARP ESSER III funds
- TEA Sample ARP ESSER III Grant Application
- Approved Texas ARP ESSER III State Plan
- TEA Vetted Texas Tutor Corps approved vendor application