$122 Billion for Education

What the American Rescue Plan Means for
Summer and Afterschool Programs

Glossary of Terms

OST: Out of School Time

ARP: American Rescue Plan

ESSER Fund: Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund

SEA: State Education Agency

LEA: Local Education Agency

CBO: Community Based Organization

MH: Mental Health

CCDBG: Child Care Development Block Grant

ED: U.S. Department of Education

American Rescue Plan

What is the American Rescue Plan?

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) is the emergency funding and relief bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021, that provides direct relief for families and students to recover from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are ESSER funds?

The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund) is the primary program by which the Department of education will award grants ­to State Educational Agencies (SEAs) for the purpose of providing Local Educational Agencies (LEAs), including charter schools that are LEAs, with emergency relief funds to address the impact that COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, on elementary and secondary schools across the nation.

The ARP includes $122 billion billion for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) III grants to State Education Agencies (SEA) for PK-12 public schools, with 90% allocated to local educational agencies (LEAs) and includes new set asides at the state and local level for afterschool and summer learning. The law also adds implementation of full-service community schools as an allowable use of funds and adds summer enrichment in the examples of allowable activities to address learning loss.

How much are states and districts getting for afterschool and summer learning?

$8.45B available from SEAs, including:

$1.22B set-aside for summer enrichment

$1.22B set-aside for comprehensive afterschool programs

5%, approximately, $6.1B, for learning recovery, which can include comprehensive afterschool/summer enrichment or summer learning/extended school day/extended school year

$22B provided to LEAs for learning recovery strategies, including comprehensive afterschool/summer enrichment or summer learning/extended school day/extended school year

How much will each state and district get under the American Rescue Plan?

The allocations are available here by state, including set asides for local education agencies (school districts) as well as the state level set asides for comprehensive afterschool, summer enrichment, and learning recovery. To inquire on accessing these funds, you can reach out to state education Title I administrators – listed here for each state.

How does the money flow from the federal government to states and then to districts?

The money will flow via the federal government through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) III grants to State Education Agencies (SEA) for PK-12 public schools, with 90% allocated to local educational agencies (LEAs).

What is the timing and how soon do these funds have to be spent/obligated?

The Department of Education dispersed funds to State Education Agencies (SEAs) the week of March 22. SEAs have 60 days from when they receive the funds to disperse 90% of their state allocation to local educational agencies (LEAs). The funds will remain available through September 30, 2023.

What entities are eligible for these funds?

Nonprofit organizations?

For profit organizations?

Religious organizations?

Community based organizations?

Unlicensed community organizations?

The American Rescue Act does not prohibit state level set aside funds for comprehensive afterschool, summer enrichment, or learning recovery from being awarded to any of the above entities although the law also does not require they be eligible. State Education Agencies overseeing the state level set asides will determine how the funds are awarded and what organizations are eligible. Organizations can advocate to make the case that a wide variety of providers should be eligible to receive funds.

Are OST providers eligible for direct grants from the State Education Agency? What about the Local Education Agency?

Yes, OST providers are eligible for direct grants from the State Education Agency and the Local Education Agency.

Are nonprofits eligible to regrant funds they receive from states and districts? Do they have to be partnered with a state or local agency?

That is a possibility if State Education Agencies choose to make grants to entities like ACA, YMCA, BGCA at the state level for them to then regrant the funds.

How can organizations influence agencies to use these monies for afterschool and summer programs?

Each state will disperse state level aterschool, summer enrichment and learning recovery funds differently and it is important to advocate for an efficient dispersal of these funds. Reach out to State Education Agencies (SEA) and/or your statewide afterschool network to find out how the state funds for afterschool ($1 billion), summer ($1 billion) and learning recovery funds (includes afterschool and summer – $6 billion) will be used.

The process will be different depending on the state and SEAs likely do not yet know how they will do this. There will likely be a grant competition for those funds at the state level either run by the SEA or in some cases the SEA may give funds to a third party organization to conduct a grant competition. Some SEAs may opt to channel the funds through 21st CCLC grantees.

Will districts want to subgrant with OST providers?

It is very likely that districts will want to subgrant with OST providers, but there are no guarantees and that is why the local advocacy is so critical.

What departments oversee this funding?

At the federal level the Department of Education oversees the ESSER funds. At the state level the State Education Agencies (SEAs) oversee the funds, while at the local level, local education agencies (LEAs) oversee the funds.

What can funds be used for?

The ESSER funds are intended to be incredibly flexible and can be used to alleviate the fallout from COVID-19. According to ED, “the ESSER Fund provides LEAs considerable flexibility in determining how best to use ESSER funds. 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.” Addressing learning loss via summer learning and comprehensive afterschool programs are included as allowable uses in the previous ESSER funds and in ESSER III, have dedicated funds.

20 percent of these funds will address learning loss through the implementation of evidence-based interventions such as summer learning or summer enrichment, extended day, comprehensive afterschool programs, or extended school year programs and ensure that such interventions respond to students’ academic, social, and emotional needs and address the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus.

Are these funds tied to specific outcomes? Or is their flexibility?

For the two state level set asides designed to fund comprehensive afterschool and summer enrichment, the law states that the State should carry out, directly or through grants or contracts, the implementation of evidence-based programs, and ensure such programs respond to students’ academic, social, and emotional needs and address the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on low-income student populations, students experiencing homelessness, and children and youth in foster care.

Do these funds mean other federal programs are not getting funding via the normal appropriations process?

No, Congress will still pass its annual funding bills and it is very likely that many federal programs will receive their typical, if not higher, levels of funding.

If an organization gets funding from the ARP, does it prevent us from getting funding from another federal source?

No, ESSER funds are able to be combined with other funding sources, including federal, state, and local funds.

What resources are available to learn more about these programs?

You can find updated resources about these programs on the Afterschool Alliance American Rescue Plan page here.

Where can we find resources for best practices and evidence based standards?

Evidence-Based Considerations for COVID-19 Reopening and Recovery Planning: Briefs from the Wallace Foundation

The Importance of Adult Skills in Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) (March 2021)

Summer Learning with Academic and Non-Academic Activities (March 2021)

Afterschool Coordination Systems to Support Afterschool Programming (March 2021)

Summer Camps

Will summer camps have to be in person to receive these funds?

Direction from the Department of Education as well as decisions from state level departments of education on questions such as these have not yet been published.

When is the ED guidance being released?

The Department of Education has indicated they plan to release both a handbook and Frequently Asked Questions document as direction to state and local education agencies on how to best utilize these funds. Both of those forms of guidance are expected from the ED in early to mid-April.

Child Care

How does an organization apply for the Child Care Stabilization Fund?

Information is expected to be available from the Office of Child Care at the Department of Health and Human Services soon and will be posted here. Ultimately state child care agencies will determine the process for awarding these funds.

What kinds of activities qualify the organization as a childcare provider?

The eligibility for child care providers differs between states and falls into a number of categories including licensed, licensed-exempt, as well as others. Contact your state child care agency for information on what qualifies a provider to be eligible for CCDBG funds.

What qualifies an organization for an emergency child care center?

The eligibility for child care providers including emergency child care qualifications differs between states. Contact your state child care agency for information on what qualifies a provider to be eligible for CCDBG funds.

Where can organizations access pre-k resources?

Consider both the American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III Fund (ESSER III Fund) state level set asides and the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funds through your state child care agency.

Mental Health and Social and Emotional Learning

If a CBO provides mental health already but is not connected to a community school, could they still be eligible for grants via the federal programs? (Project AWARE, Suicide Prevention, NCTSN?)

Eligibility for federal mental health funding varies between programs like Project AWARE, Suicide Prevention, and more. You can find more on these funding opportunities including eligibility and deadlines here.

How do we find out more about community schools and resources?

The national office of Communities In Schools has more information and resources on community schools as does the national Coalition for Community Schools.

Special thanks to the following program partners in curating this information:

Afterschool Alliance, American Camp Association, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Communities in Schools, YMCA of the USA