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Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) II Fund

ESSER II: Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund

Colorado was allocated $519,324,311 from the The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, known as ESSER II, in December 2020.

Chart with time frame showing March 2020 to September 2023. ESSER 2: $519,324,311 Supporting a safe return to school for student and educators. Spending deadline: September 30, 2023. $467,391,879.90, 90% distributed to LEAs, $51,932,431.10.

Local Priorities

Investing in high quality instructional programming

Addressing learning loss

Ensuring the health and safety of students and staff

Investing in programs

Learning loss

Health and safety


In December 2020, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) was signed into law, providing an additional $82 billion in funding for the national Education Stabilization Fund (ESF).  The ESF funding provides support for K-12 schools with a total of $54.3 billion added to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund (called ESSER II).  Under CRSSA, Colorado has been allocated $519,324,311 to the ESSER II fund.

Although the ESSER II uses of funds are similar to those for ESSER, there are important distinctions between the ESSER II and ESSER programs (PDF), including the period of funds availability, equitable services to non-public schools, maintenance of effort, and a report on efforts to measure and address learning loss. States are instructed to use all remaining ESSER funds before making use of the ESSER II funds, given the shorter remaining period of availability. 

ESSER II Fund Distribution

The additional ESSER funds, called ESSER II, will be distributed according to the same process as the March 2020 funds with 90% flowing to local education agencies based on the Title I formula and 10% reserved for state-level activities.  Like the original ESSER dollars, only 0.5% of the total state award may be used for administration activities.

Under ESSER II, Colorado has received $519,324,311 with at least $467,391,880 for direct distribution to districts and no more than $51,932,431 for state-level activities. View ESSER II allocations (PDF).

Allowable uses include:   

Additional Resources

*Newly explicit allowable uses.

State Set Aside Funds

From Colorado’s ESSER II allocation, CDE was allowed to reserve no more than $51,932,431 (10%) to address emergency needs as determined by the department to address issues related to COVID-19.  Of the state reserve, CDE may use no more than $2,596,622 (half of 1%) for administrative purposes. 

CDE has determined that a portion of ESSER II funding set aside for state-level activities will go to school districts, BOCES and Tribes that received little or no relief funding in the earlier distribution of 90% of ESSER II funding based in Title I allocations.

The $16.8 million distribution announced in March 2021 will provide support for Native American students and students with special needs, among others, and will be distributed in the following ways:

  • $7,697,837 to help districts and BOCES support students with special needs.
  • $7,010,343 for districts that did not receive or received a very small allocation from the 90% allocation of ESSER II funds for Title I schools; as well as support for Native American students
  • $1,767,000 for operation support for BOCES and additional funding for BOCES with brick-and-mortar schools.
  • $280,000 to support educational needs of the Colorado Tribes.

CDE has created a spreadsheet for the initial allocation each entity will receive in this distribution of supplemental ESSER funds.

CDE will reserve the remaining ESSER II state reserve funding to support educator recruitment and retention efforts and extended learning opportunities for students who have experienced the greatest impact on learning during the pandemic. The use of the remaining state set aside funds will be determined by the commissioner.


The law requires the U.S. Department of Education to award funds to states within 30 days of its enactment with the ability to use funds until Sept. 30, 2022.  The Tydings amendment allows an additional 12 months to use funds extending the use until Sept. 30, 2023.

The U.S. Department of Education has provided a liquidation extension CRRSA template and a Frequently Asked Questions document regarding liquidation extension requests for programs funded under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act: the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER II) program, the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER II) program, and the Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS) program.

Under this process, a State may only request an extension of up to 14 months past the close of the liquidation period (i.e., 14 months beyond the automatic 120-day liquidation period). Thus, requests submitted through this process may extend to, but not exceed March 31, 2025 for the CRRSA Act funds (including ESSER, GEER, and EANS). 

Reviews and approval from the U.S. Department of Education will occur on a case-by-case basis. CDE will be creating a process to collect the necessary information beginning later this summer in order to submit a request for an extension on behalf of any LEAs that need an extension. If you believe your LEA may need an ESSER II extension, please email Nazie Mohajeri-Nelson to let her know of your intent to apply for an extension.

ESSER II Funds and Charter Schools

The CRSSA does not directly address allocation of district ESSER II funds to charter schools that are not standalone LEAs. The clear legislative intent, however, is to benefit all public schools and students regardless of school type. CDE asks that districts include their charter schools on equal footing with traditional schools, when determining the most important educational needs as a result of COVID-19, consistent with the intent of the CRSSA and the intent of Colorado law, see C.R.S. 22-30.5-112(3).  LEAs must meaningfully engage all school leaders, including charter school leaders, in determining their plans for using ESSER II funds.

Equitable Services for Non-public Schools

Under the new act, there is no equitable services requirement for ESSER funds.  However, under the CRSSA an additional $2.75 billion has been allocated for emergency assistance to nonpublic schools through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) II Fund for a new Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS) grant program.  Colorado has been allocated $28,433,931 for the EANS grant program, and state education agencies (SEAs) have been designated to administer the program.  Nonpublic schools can apply for these funds for “secular, neutral, and non ideological” services and assistance, including sanitization, personal protective equipment, COVID testing, educational technology, and connectivity. State education agencies must provide these services directly or under contract, and retain control of funds and title to equipment.  SEAs are required to prioritize services or assistance to nonpublic schools that enroll low-income students and are most impacted by the qualifying emergency.  Under this provision, SEA may only reserve the lesser of $200K or 0.5% for administration.

More information on the timing and process for applying for the EANs grant is forthcoming and can be found on the EANS grant page.