A Quick Guide to CARES Funding for Schools

by Jack Drummond, on Feb 16, 2021 2:39:43 PM

child on ipad looking at map

COVID-19 has been disrupting American life since March 2020. Schools, faculty, and students have borne a great deal of that disruption with remote learning, on again/off again classroom instruction, and slashed budgets.

However, as we close in on a full year of dealing with the effects of COVID, it looks like help is on the way, not just in the form of a vaccine, but also in federal relief money for schools. President Biden’s most recent stimulus proposal, which appears likely to be approved by Congress, would allocate $170 billion for K-12 schools and higher education, adding to the $30.7 billion approved in March 2020 under the original CARES Act  and $82 billion in the stimulus package approved in December 2020.

There is money available now and there looks like more on the way and a lot of it can be applied towards technology purchases. We’ve compiled a basic FAQ to answer questions about what funding is currently available, and will update it as additional funding is approved. 

You can also contact us to schedule a time to chat with one of our educational technology consultants to discuss how to make best use of your stimulus funds.

What money has been made available and what is on the way?

March 2020 - ESSER 

Congress set aside approximately $13.2 billion of the $30.75 billion allotted to the Education Stabilization Fund through the CARES Act for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund). The Department will award these 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.

ESSER Fund awards to SEAs are in the same proportion as each State received funds under Part A of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended, in fiscal year 2019.

December 2020 - ESSER II

The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSA), was signed into law on December 27, 2020 and provides an additional $54.3 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER II Fund).

ESSER II Fund awards to SEAs are in the same proportion as each State received funds under Part A of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended, in fiscal year 2020.

February 2021 - (Pending Congressional Approval) 

Biden's proposal would put another $130 billion toward K-12 schools and $35 billion to support higher education institutions. About $5 billion would go to governors to use at their discretion for the "hardest hit" K-12, higher education or early education programs. The K-12 dollars would be focused on helping schools reopen and helping students catch up on learning they missed during the pandemic, though the allowable uses would be quite broad, A portion would be used for challenge grants focused on educational equity.

What kinds of purchases are eligible?

  • Expanding access to equitable statewide online blended, and offline learning platforms, with particular attention to access for students with disabilities, English learners, students in concentrated poverty, and other at-risk student populations;
  • Strengthening support and accountability for full-time virtual schools while building local capacity to design, deliver, and evaluate the efficacy of online and blended learning;
  • Supporting intensive teacher and school leader professional development on remote delivery and pedagogy;
  • Providing direct resources and technical assistance to close learning and nonacademic gaps stemming from extended school closures

I made eligible purchases last year. Am I able to get credit for them?

Some purchases you made in 2020 might be eligible for funding. Contact us to schedule a time to discuss!


What additional resources are available?

CARES Act info for PA
CARES Act info for NJ
CARES Act info for Promethean
Future Ed site with general info about COVID19 Emergency Funding for Schools (frequently updated)
Governor Wolf’s statement about $2.2 billion in COVID19 emergency funding for PA schools



The secretary of education encourages creative thinking when planning to use these funds. “It’s important to think creatively about new delivery methods and focus on investing in the technology infrastructure and professional development and training that will help all students continue to learn through some form of remote learning.”

At the time of this blog post, Congress is still in the process of finalizing the current economic stimulus proposal. We will update this post as the proposal develops and you can contact us for the most up to date consultation and guidance on how to make the most of your available tech budget!

Speak with an Education Technology Consultant


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Topics:InsiderTech TipsBusiness Tips

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