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President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Act on March 12.

The third round of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) funding, ESSER III totals 126 billion dollars for K-12 education. The U.S. Department of Education is awarding 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.

These federal dollars are being made available to each school district and may be used, in 15 types of spending as allowable uses of ESSER funds, the first of which is “any activity authorized by the ESEA of 1965 and other federal education laws.” This means that if funding an activity is authorized under any well-rounded education program. Schools in our state and across the nation have been able to access ESSER funds for some of the following:

  • rebuild music programs due to loss of teachers because of decrease in student attendance due to COVID perhaps by requesting an allocation for 2 years to rebuild;
  • hire adjunct teachers to provide small group lessons to the students who have learning loss due to COVID, that would allow beginners to move forward at a quicker pace;
  • provide summer programs free to students;
  • purchase personal protection equipment (PPE) including bell covers, masks;
  • purchase of instruments so that they are not shared between students;
  • funds for maintenance and cleaning of school instruments over the summer;
  • purchase instructional materials, including licensing for elementary programs;
  • introduce a new program by requesting the equipment necessary for technology labs, steel pans etc.

We need to be assertive about asking school boards and superintendents to include the arts in this funding!

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) ESSER Funding Toolkit can be an excellent source for additional information.

Learn more about federal ESSER Emergency Response Grants available 2021-2024 for education:

ESSER Webinar

The FMEA Corporate and Academic Partners presented an interactive Zoom meeting open to all FMEA members regarding ESSER Funding opportunities for music education in Florida: all about ESSER, how funds are allocated, what you can use funds for, and what you should do now to become involved in the process. 

Watch Recording

ESSER Resources from the Webinar

Featuring leading experts in music education funding:

Mary Luehrsen
Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations for NAMM

Bob Morrison 
CEO of Quadrant Research

Lynn Tuttle 
Director of Public Policy, Research and Professional Development for NAfME

Fred Schiff
Chairman of FMEA's Florida Corporate and Academic Partner committee

Register Today!