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. 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.

TXPOST has developed and continues to update this webpage as a toolkit to support all Texas OST providers in advocating for funded partnerships with their local school districts. We recommend using this toolkit in the order of sections below or you can expand specific sections relevant to your current advocacy efforts. As always, TXPOST is here to support you. We would love to learn more about your local outreach efforts and hear what would be most helpful for you at this time. Please email us at info@txpost.org to connect or request additional guidance.

How to Advocate for Funding a Partnership with Your OST/Community Organization

First, click here 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);
  • how much your school districts are estimated to receive;
  • a current funding timeline and status; and
  • links to all related resources from the U.S. Department of Education and TEA.

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.

While an opportunity of this size requires coordinated advocacy at all levels across Texas, 90% of these funds will be in the hands of your school districts, which will require local action. Deep community connections and strong relationships with the schools and school districts that the kids you serve attend will be more critical than ever. We encourage you to follow these steps and use their corresponding, detailed sections below to prepare and engage as soon as you’re ready:

  1. Educate yourself
  2. Build your case
  3. Reach out
  4. Educate stakeholders & decision makers
  5. Keep the conversation going