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How to improve learning at school with ESSER Funds?

During COVID-19, while many fields felt the impact of the pandemic, the education space was perhaps the hardest hit and most pervasive as it affected virtually every parent, teacher, or administrator. We all know about massive school closures and the vast migration to virtual classes, as education institutions struggled to keep their students engaged and learning during this time. Community members ranging from city, state, and federal leaders to educators and parents worried about the substantial learning loss that resulted. This situation led the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to establish the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to assist educational actors in counteracting the negative impact on childhood education the pandemic has left.

Now that we’ve seemingly gotten back to “normal,” there’s finally time to re-engage students and mitigate the learning loss from the last two years. Here are some key points to keep in mind if you or your school are thinking about applying for ESSER funds.

How does the ESSER fund work?

ARP ESSER provides a total of nearly $122 billion to states and school districts to help safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s students. In addition to ARP ESSER, the ARP Act includes $3 billion for special education, $850 million for the Outlying Areas, $2.75 billion to support non-public schools, and additional funding for homeless children and youth, Tribal educational agencies, Native Hawaiians, and Alaska Natives.

What are ESSER III Allowable Uses?

A State must subgrant not less than 90 percent of its total ARP ESSER allocation to local educational agencies (LEAs) (including charter schools that are LEAs) in the State to help meet a wide range of needs arising from the coronavirus pandemic, including reopening schools safely, sustaining their safe operation, and addressing students’ social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs resulting from the pandemic.

  • Implementation of evidence-based interventions aimed specifically at addressing learning loss, such as summer learning or summer enrichment, extended day, comprehensive afterschool programs, or extended school year programs.

  • Evidence-based summer enrichment programs.

  • Evidence-based comprehensive afterschool programs.

  • Purchasing educational technology, which could include hardware, software, and connectivity, for students served by the LEA that aids in regular, substantive educational interaction between students and educators, including low-income students and students with disabilities. This could also include assistive technology or adaptive equipment.

What are some Compatible Products and Services?

Below is a list of eligible uses for ESSER funding and a list of Creator Bot products that can be used for the aforementioned uses:

  • Creator Micro-Bot (Elementary): Recommended for Grades 3-5. The perfect kit to get started learning or teaching coding, robotics, and engineering fundamentals. Code it using Snap!, based on Scratch (by MIT)

  • Creator Mini-Bot (Middle-School): Recommended for Grades 5-6; 7-9. With just the right amount of motors, wheels, and circuit components, the Mini-Bot is an awesome way for middle schoolers to learn electrical engineering and coding in a hands-on project.

  • Creator Mega-Bot (High-School): Recommended for Grades 8 - 12. The first Arduino-Mega powered robotics kit aligned to Computer Science and NGSS standards with step-by-step curriculum and support. A - G Computer Science Accredited for UC's.

  • STEM Enrichment Classes: After-school or summer classes for elementary and secondary education, that include strong promotion of evidence-based science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education with hands-on experiences through robotics.

- REV Robots (Ages 8-10) (Grades 2-4)

Students explore the world of Arduino circuits, robotics, and code! This class is incredible for the hands-on tinkerers and engineers of tomorrow who love to figure out how things work build either virtual or live robotics projects.

- Adventures in Coding (Ages 6-11) (Grades 1-5)

Students adventure through code as they begin exploring coding fundamentals by making games and animations using block-based coding in softwares such as Pencilcode, Scratch, Kodu and more. No prior typing experience or coding experience required. Sculpt your coding muscles in this adventure and leave having learned to code!

-Rev Engineering (Ages 10-15) (Grades 5-8)

Students code their virtual or real Arduinos and bots through challenges and as they wire and code them to control motors, lights, sensors and more! Option to use a fun and powerful virtual simulator for Arduino circuits and coding.

How to apply for ESSER funding?

Every Local Education Agency seeking to receive ESSER funding must apply to their State Education Agency. You should monitor your SEA’s website for the latest updates and information on applications. Since each state handles its own ESSER application process, follow these steps to start yours:

1. Visit your state government’s website to access ARP ESSER III applications and list of required documents.

2. Ask your SEA to download and print the application.

3. Collect the required documents to provide to your SEA, including your implementation plan.

4. There is no deadline to submit your application; SEAs must award all ESSER funding by September 30, 2022.

5. LEAs/schools must spend their funds within one year of receipt, and before September 30, 2024. The Department of Education will monitor and has the right to audit spending

Take advantage of ESSER funds to expand access to our Enrichment Programs, ​accelerate student learning with PBL + STEM, and make sure your school and your students get the maximum benefit from ESSER possible. Contact a rep now to get started right away!

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