You are here

American Rescue Plan - Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) Fund

ESSER III: American Rescue Plan: Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund

Colorado was allocated $1,166,328,632 from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, known as ESSER III, in December 2020.

See how LEAs are using funds.

Chart with time frame showing May 2021 to September 2024. ESSER 3: $1,166,328,632. Recovering from lost learning opportunities. Spending deadline: September 30, 2024. $1,049,695,768.90, 90% distributed to LEAs, $116,632,863.20.

Local Priorities

Addressing learning loss

Ensuring the health and safety of students and staff

Expanding learning in summer and afterschool programs

Improving indoor air quality

Learning loss

Health and safety

Summer learning

Air quality

ESSER State Plan

Colorado's ARP ESSER State Plan ensures Colorado will make the most impactful use of federal funds to support students, teachers and schools recovering from the interruption to education as a result of COVID-19.

ESSER State Plan (PDF)

ESSER Engagement Update

Thank you to everyone who participated in the ESSER engagement survey and public meetings. CDE and the State Board of Education have incorporated your feedback into our State Plan.

ESSER Engagement page


On March 11, 2021 the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act was signed into law. The ARP ESSER III funding from the ARP Act provides support for K-12 schools with a total of nearly $122 billion to States and school districts to help safely open and sustain the safe operations of schools and address the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation's students. The ARP Act also allocates $39.6 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, $450 billion to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and $2.8 billion for the Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund. Under ESSER III, Colorado has been allocated $1,166,328,632.

Although the ARP ESSER III uses of funds are similar to those for ESSER I and II, there are important distinctions between ARP ESSER III, ESSER II, and ESSER programs, 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.

Due to the requirement from the U.S. Department of Education for states to allocate funds within 60 days of receipt, the application (approval & transmittal, assurances, and GEPA statement) must be submitted by Sunday, May 23, 2021. Districts will have until March 24, 2022 to submit the budget for ARP ESSER III.

Districts are also required to develop and seek public comment on plans for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services. This information must be made publicly available on the local educational agency's website no later than 30 days after receiving the allocation of funds.

 ARP ESSER III Requirements

Although ARP ESSER III allows for the same uses of funds as ESSER I and II, there are additional requirements that have been added under ARP, which include:

ARP ESSER III Fund Distribution

The additional ARP ESSER III funds will be distributed according to the same process as the ESSER I and ESSER II 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 ARP ESSER III, Colorado has received $1,166,328,632 with at least $1,049,695,769 for direct distribution to districts and no more than $116,632,863 for state-level priorities. View ARP ESSER III allocations (PDF). On June 25, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education revised Colorado's allocation to $1,167,153,961, which increased the 90% allocation for direct distribution to districts to $1,050,438,565. View the revised ARP ESSER III allocations (PDF).

Allowable uses include:

  • coordinating preparedness and response efforts with State, local, Tribal, and territorial public health departments to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19;
  • training and professional development on sanitizing and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases;
  • purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean the LEA's facilities;
  • repairing and improving school facilities to reduce risk of virus transmission and exposure to environmental health hazards;
  • improving indoor air quality;
  • addressing the needs of children from low-income families, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth;
  • developing and implementing procedures and systems to improve the preparedness and response efforts of LEAs;
  • planning for or implementing activities during long-term closures, including providing meals to eligible students and providing technology for online learning;
  • purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, connectivity, assistive technology, and adaptive equipment) for students that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including students from low-income families and children with disabilities;
  • providing mental health services and supports, including through the implementation of evidence-based full-service community schools and the hiring of counselors.

Additional Resources

State Reserve Funds

Using priorities identified with stakeholder input, the Commissioner has used ARP ESSER III State Reserve funds for a variety of purposes. Nearly $25 million was distributed to LEAs that received no or little funds from the 90% direct allocations to LEAs, districts serving American Native students, BOCES, Administrative Units, and Facility schools. The breakdown of funds allocated to each entity can be found here.

State reserve funds are also being used to provide competitive grants based on the identified priorities. More information about these opportunities can be found on the ESSER State Reserve webpage.


The law requires the U.S. Department of Education to award funds to states within 60 days of its enactment with the ability to use funds until Sept. 30, 2023. The Tydings amendment allows an additional 12 months to use funds extending the use until Sept. 30, 2024.

ARP ESSER III Funds and Charter Schools

The ARP Act does not directly address allocation of district ESSER III 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 ARP Act 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 ARP ESSER III funds.

Due to the requirement within the ARP Act for LEAs to use at least 20% of funds to address learning loss, CDE is developing guidance to assist districts as they work with their charters on fund distribution.

Equitable Services for Non-public Schools

The ARP (section 2002) includes a separate program of Emergency Assistance for Non-Public Schools (EANS). Consequently, LEAs do not provide equitable services under ARP ESSER. Under EANS, an SEA provides services or assistance to nonpublic schools that enroll a significant percentage of children from low-income families and are most impacted by COVID-19. Unlike the GEER - EANS funds, the ARP EANS funds may not be used to provide reimbursements for costs incurred by non-public schools.