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ESSER Transportation Assistance Grant (ETAG) Program


The ESSER Transportation Assistance Grant is closed


Bright Rides is the state-funded option for eligible Adams 14 students to receive free transportation to school. Visit for more information and FAQs. RootED Denver and Transform Education Now are the two education nonprofits sponsoring this program.

Community Leadership Academy/Victory Preparatory Academy, is a charter school located in Commerce City. CLA serves PreK through fifth grade and VPA serves middle and high school students. Visit the Community Leadership Academy website for more information

Overview of the ESSER Transportation Assistance Grant 

As Colorado students and families continue to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, CDE seeks to support and empower the state’s students and families in accessing high-quality instruction. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the academic and personal challenges many students face – particularly for those students most in need – and in order to accelerate student learning as we emerge from the pandemic, it is essential that the state of Colorado support students in accessing instruction that has demonstrated success in supporting students in meeting statewide expectations of learning. 

As such, the Colorado State Board of Education has directed the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) to create the ESSER Transportation Assistance Grant (ETAG) Program that will support students attending low-performing schools in chronically low-performing districts so that they may accessing high-quality learning at a higher-performing school through transportation funding. This program will be funded under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) state reserve. 

The Colorado Department of Education will be making approximately $3 million available for this program ($1,500,000 in 2022-2023 and $1,500,000 in 2023-2024 fiscal year).  The expected range for the cost of each student served by this program is $1,200 to $2,800. Applications with per student costs outside of this range will require additional justification  

Application closed on June 21, 2022. The Intent to Apply was encouraged, but not required to submit an application. 

ESSER Transportation Assistance Grant Program Purpose

This grant program exists to provide funding to eligible applicants (see “Eligible Applicants”) in order to create new or extend existing transportation programs that would provide eligible students (see “Eligible Students”) transportation to a school other than the school that the student is currently or is designated to attend in the coming school year (see “Eligible Students” for additional detail on the criteria for students eligible to receive transportation assistance). Through this program, students will be able to attend a higher performing school of their choice in an adjacent district and access high-quality instruction to support the acceleration of their learning. A higher performing school shall be defined as (1) a school with a School Performance Rating of “Performance” and (2) a school that has not been identified in the most recent year of ESSA identification for Comprehensive (CS) or Additional Targeted (ATS) Support and Improvement (e.g., schools not identified, schools where the identification is listed as “On Hold” under ESSA, or schools identified in previous years but where the current identification is listed as “Eligible for Supports”). See the list of eligible higher-performing schools. 

Eligible Applicants

The following entities are eligible for this program: 

  • A public local educational provider (LEPs) which are defined as:: 
    • School Districts;  
    • Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES); 
    • Charter schools authorized by a School District or BOCES; 
    • Charter schools authorized by the Charter School Institute; and 
  • Nonprofit/Community-Based Organizations. 

Applications will not be accepted from individual schools. LEAs can apply on behalf of one or more schools located within their district, which can include charter schools. However, if a charter school would like to submit a standalone application, the Charter school must work with their authorizer prior to applying for funds. The authorized representative and fiscal agent for the grant must be representatives of the LEA or BOCES. 

The school must work with their authorizer to apply for funds and the school’s authorizer will be the fiscal agent, if funded. Please note that, pursuant to section 22-32-113, C.R.S., Colorado school districts, BOCES, and charter schools authorized by a school district must have approval from the local education agency (LEA) to transport a student residing within the local LEA's boundaries to a school outside of those boundaries. However, any grantee will be required to coordinate with the LEA within whose boundaries the higher-performing schools are located. 

Eligible Students

An applicant that receives funding under the program shall use the monies to provide access to transportation for eligible students from their place of residence to the higher-performing school of their choice. Eligible students: 

  • Students who were, for the 2021-2022 school year, enrolled in a school that was identified as a Title I School with a Schoolwide Program (SW); AND  
    • Note: Students who either (1) are first entering public school in the 2022-2023 school year or (2) had transferred out of such a school since July 1, 2020, but who would otherwise be assigned to such a school based on their primary residence and meet all other criteria would also be eligible under this criterion. 
  • Students who were, for the 2021-2022 school year, enrolled in a school that is accredited by a school district that has been unaccredited, “Accredited with Priority Improvement Plan,” or “Accredited with Turnaround Plan” for at least five consecutive years; AND 
    • Note: Students who either (1) are first entering public school in the 2022-2023 school year or (2) had transferred out of such a district since July 1, 2020, but who would otherwise be assigned to a school in such a district based on their primary residence and meet all other criteria would also be eligible under this criterion.  
  • Students who were, for the 2021-2022 school year, enrolled in a school that is required to implement a priority improvement or turnaround plan pursuant to section 22-11-405 or 22-11-406; AND  
    • Note: Students who either (1) are first entering public school in the 2022-2023 school year or (2) had transferred out of such a school since July 1, 2020, but who would otherwise be assigned to such a school based on their primary residence and meet all other criteria would also be eligible under this criterion.  
  • Students who are enrolled in grades K through 12 in the same or an adjacent district’s school designated as “Performance” by the state SPF and not most recently identified for improvement under ESSA.  A list of schools meeting these two criteria is available here.

Grantees of this program will prioritize transportation assistance for students who are enrolled in the low-performing school in the 2021-2022 school year. A list of schools with students who meet the criteria outlined in the first through third bullets above is available here. ​ 

Allowable Services and Uses of Funds

Allowable services or activities for funding under this grant program include: 

  • Expanding current transportation routes to provide transportation to eligible students; 
  • Contracting with nonprofit organizations to manage a transportation grant program;  
  • Contracting with transportation service providers or transportation network companies whose services meet the associated regulations for the type of services they provide (CDE regulations 1 CCR 301-25 and 1 CCR 3016-26 or PUC regulations 4 CCR 723-6 and SB22-144) to provide transportation to eligible students from their place of residence to the higher performing school; 
  • Salaries and fringe benefits associated with organizing and providing such services; 
  • Reasonable mileage reimbursement (including via gas cards) to families providing transportation for eligible students;  
  • Communication or promotional materials to inform eligible students of the transportation opportunities provided under the funded application; 
  • Providing technical assistance and support to families and students interested in accessing higher performing schools  (e.g., confirming student eligibility, liaising with higher-performing schools to support families in finding a school that best meets the needs of the students, supporting them through the choice application process at the higher performing school, defining appropriate morning pick-up and afternoon drop-off locations—including drop-offs for afterschool programs and other wrap-around services); 
  • Professional learning to ensure that all staff, including those directly transporting students, have the necessary training and licensure as required by federal, state, and local law; and the 
  • Purchase, lease, maintenance, and inspection of vehicles used to transport students. 

 Allowable uses include, but are not limited to: 

  • Reimbursements for actual transportation costs incurred by families through reimbursement or gas cards; 
  • Actual personnel salary and benefits required to administer the program; 
  • Actual costs required for the acquisition, maintenance, and inspection of vehicles used to transport eligible students; 
  • Actual costs for services, technology and/or supplies necessary for communicating to and with families about the transportation assistance program; and 
  • Other allowable and allocable costs that are necessary for the implementation of this program. 

These funds are specific to this program, the ESSER Transportation Assistance Grant Program, and uses of funds for any other purpose are not allowed. Please review the ESSER Allowable Uses document for further clarity. If you have any questions regarding allowable expenses, please reach out to Robert Hawkins ( for confirmation. Please see Attachment B for Federal Budgeting Resources

Review Process and Timeline

Applications will be reviewed by CDE staff to ensure they contain all the required components. Applicants will be notified of final award status no later than Friday, July 1, 2022

Note: This is a competitive process – applicants must score at least 70 points out of the 100 possible points to be approved for funding. Applications that score below 70 points may be asked to submit revisions that would bring the application up to a fundable level. There is no guarantee that applying will result in funding or funding at the requested level. All award decisions are final. Applicants that do not meet the qualifications may reapply for future grant opportunities. 

Submission Process and Deadline

Completed applications (including all required elements outlined below) must be submitted through the online application form by Tuesday, June 21, 2022, by 11:59 pm. 

Within the online application, applicants will complete Part I with their applicant information, Part II with their application narrative, Part IV Financial Management Risk Assessment, and upload attachments as described in the Required Elements section below. 

Incomplete or late applications will not be considered. If you do not receive an email confirmation of receipt of your submission from the application system within 24 hours after the deadline, e-mail

Application Technical Assistance 

An application webinar was held on Tuesday, May 31st. 

Recording | Slides

Application Assistance

Program Questions:

Scott D. Jones

Chief Strategic Recovery Officer

720-951-1924 |

Budget/Fiscal Questions:

Robert Hawkins

Lead Grants Fiscal Analyst

Application Process Questions:

Grants Program Administration Office