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ESSER Training Page

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In response to COVID-19 and its impacts on schools, the federal government provided three separate allocations of funds to support elementary and secondary education. The allocations are referred to as Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief funds (ESSER).


  • Passed March 2020 as part of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

  • Colorado received $121 million

  • Focused on infrastructure needed to respond to the pandemic


  • December 2020 Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act

  • Colorado received $519 million

  • Focused on resources for safe return to in-person instruction


  • March 2021 American Rescue Plan (ARP)

  • Colorado received $1.17 billion

  • Focused on recovering from the pandemic and addressing the academic impact

Key Terms & Concepts

Reasonable, Necessary, and Allocable

These are the criteria that CDE uses to determine if an activity in an LEA’s budget is an allowable use of funds.

  • Reasonable: Would a prudent person consider this to be a reasonable expense to meet the given aims?

  • Necessary: Is this activity necessary to prevent the spread of or respond to the impacts of COVID-19?

  • Allocable: Does this meet the statutory requirements for funding? For ESSER, the main concern is that the need for the funding is clearly related to the impacts of COVID-19.

Equitable Services to Non-Public Schools

(Applies only to ESSER I) Under ESSER I, LEA's must consult with non-public schools and allocate participating non-public schools a proportionate share of the LEAs ESSER I allocation.

20% Learning Loss Set Aside

(Applies only to ESSER III) LEAs are required to use at least 20% of allocated funds for activities that provide evidence-based interventions to address the academic impact of lost instructional time.

  • Examples include:

    • Summer Learning Programs

    • Summer Enrichment Programs

    • Extended Day/School Year

    • Comprehensive afterschool programs

Use of Funds Plan

(Applies only to ESSER III) LEAs must create a plan that outlines how they will use their funds to address the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of students, particularly students from historically underserved populations. The plan must describe how the LEA will use 20% of the allocated funds to address the academic impact of lost instructional time through the implementation of evidence-based interventions and how the district plans to use the remaining 80% of the funds.

To meet these requirements, LEAs must submit a Narrative and Budget to CDE through the online ESSER III application and post a Use of Funds plan on their website and submit the link to CDE. Follow the Narrative Guidance in crafting your response for the application.

Evidence-Based Intervention

(Applies only to ESSER III) Activities designated as part of the 20% set aside must meet one of the 4 levels of an evidence based-intervention (EBI) as designated by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Safe In-Person Instruction Plan

(Applies only to ESSER III) LEAs are required to post a Safe In-Person Instruction plan to their LEA website within 30 days of receiving an ESSER III allocation. Safe In-Person Instruction plans should detail the steps that LEAs will take to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and be reviewed every 6 months. Plans must be posted on the LEA website and linked on the CDE website.

Maintenance of Equity (MoEQ)

(Applies only to ESSER III) Maintenance of Equity is a calculation that compares the reduction in state and local funding at schools with high percentages of students experiencing poverty to schools with lower percentages of students experiencing poverty. Using this calculation, LEAs must meet the following requirements:

  • LEAs cannot reduce per pupil funding for high poverty schools disproportionately to the rest of the schools within the LEA (the total reduction within LEA divided by the number of students currently enrolled in the LEA).

  • LEAs cannot reduce per pupil funding for high poverty schools by an amount that exceeds the total reduction, if any, in FTE staff per-pupil in all schools served by the LEA.

An LEA does not have to follow MOEq requirements if the LEA:

  1. Has a total enrollment of less than 1,000 students;

  2. Operates a single school;

  3. Serves all students within each grade span with a single school; OR

  4. Demonstrates an exceptional or uncontrollable circumstance, such as unpredictable changes in student enrollment or a precipitous decline in the financial resources of the LEA as determined by the Secretary (i.e., did not and will not implement an aggregate reduction in combined State and local per-pupil funding).

ESSER Grant Codes

When using ESSER funds, LEAs will use the following funding source codes:

  • ESSER I General- 4425

  • Supplemental ESSER I- 5425

  • ESSER II General- 4420

  • Supplemental ESSER II- 4419

  • ESSER III General- 4414

    • ESSER III 20% Set Aside- 9414

  • ESSER III Supplemental- 4418

    • ESSER III supplemental learning loss set aside- 9418


Under each statute, 90% of the state’s allocation was passed directly to LEAs based on the Title I funding formula. Some LEAs, as well as BOCES, tribes, and administrative units received additional allocations from the 10% state reserve. In order to access the funds, LEAs must submit an application and will be subject to monitoring.

ESSER I Application

ESSER II Application

ESSER III Application

Allowable Use of Funds

ESSER funds must be used to address the impact COVID-19 has had and continues to have on elementary and secondary schools within the LEAs boundaries, including continuing educational services to students during school building closures, and developing and implementing plans for the return to normal operations.

While ESSER allocations are calculated using the Title I formula, these funds may be used for any allowable activities under ESSER and are not subject to Title I requirements. In general, LEAs can use ESSER funds for activities authorized by ESEA, IDEA, the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the Perkins CTE Act, or the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Examples of allowable activities include:

  • coordination with public health

  • purchasing educational technology

  • planning for long term closures

  • training and supplies for sanitation

  • mental health support

  • summer school and after school programs

  • funds for principals to address local needs

  • other activities to continue school operations and employment of existing staff

For more information on allowable uses of ESSER, see the ESSER Allowable Uses Document.

Additional Requirements for ESSER III

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:

  • 20% Set Aside: LEAS must use 20% of allocated funds for evidence based interventions designed to address the academic impact of lost instructional time (Learning Loss Set Aside)

  • Use of Funds Plan: LEAs must work with stakeholders to develop a Use of Funds plan that details how they will spend their funds in a way that responds to identified student needs and how they plan to measure the impact of the activities funded with ESSER funds

  • Safe In-Person Plan: LEAs must develop and maintain a Safe In-Person Instruction plan that summarizes the strategies that the LEA is implementing to ensure the safety and health of students and staff.

  • Maintenance of Equity: LEAs must meet the Maintenance of Equity requirement, unless they are excepted from this requirement.

Read more about how to meet these requirements here.

ESSER Reporting

USDE has asked each state to collect and report data on all three ESSERs through four reporting periods. The information collected is gathered from the ESSER applications, including the budgets, plans, and narrative statements. The first reporting period has ended, and CDE sent back the first reporting form to USDE in early 2021.

The second and current reporting period is for activities from October 1st, 2020 - June 30th 2021 for ESSER I and July 1st, 2020 - June 30th, 2021 for ESSER II and III. For this reporting period, CDE will complete this form and send it to the USDE in May 2022.

Certain elements of the reporting form require more information from LEAs than what the ESSER application provides, which CDE will be collecting in early 2022.

ESSER Monitoring

All LEAs that received ESSER funding will be subject to CDE monitoring to ensure funds were allocated and expended according to statute and regulations. To see when your district will be monitored, check the ESEA and ESSER Monitoring Schedule. For details and trainings on the monitoring process, visit the ESSER Monitoring webpage.

Key Tasks & Deadlines

For a more detailed list of all deadlines associated with ESSER funds, see the deadline chart on the ESSER monitoring page.






ESSER III Supplemental

Application Open- Accept or Decline funds ASAP

ESSER I Application

ESSER II Application

ESSER III Application





Create Safe In-Person Plan and post to website. Submit in-person plan link to CDE here.

Safe In Person Plan Checklist

List of LEA Safe In-Person Plans

Not Applicable

Not Applicable



Create Use of Funds Plan and post to website. Submit link to CDE here.

Use of Funds Guidance

Use of Funds Office Hours Slides

Use of Funds Office Hours Recording

List of LEA Use of Funds Plans

Not Applicable

Not Applicable



Complete the Online Application and needed revisions before application closes

Narrative Question Guidance

ESSER Example Budget Lines





Optional: Submit Post Award Revisions

Consolidated App Post Award Revision process (applies to ESSER)

Ongoing until 6/30/22




Submit Request for Funds

RFF Webpage

Ongoing until October 2022

Ongoing until October 2023

Ongoing until October 2024

Ongoing until October 2024