Federal Relief Funds

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) FAQs: 9.5 Percent State-Directed Grants

Of the money Minnesota receives through the federal ESSER fund, 9.5 percent is distributed through state-directed grants. As questions arise that aren’t answered here, please email mde.esea@state.mn.us.

Allocation amounts and eligibility

Which districts and charter schools will receive these grants?

These grants are awarded based on the following steps:

  1. Districts and charter schools that did not receive a formula-based allocation will receive $344.24 per student eligible for free or reduced-price meals, using October 1, 2019 enrollment data. ($344.24 being the average amount of money received per student eligible for free or reduced-price meals in the districts and charter schools that did receive a formula-based allocation.)
  2. Taking into account the formula-based allocation and Step 1, all districts and charter schools will be brought up to $10,000. For example, if a district received $7,500 through the formula-based allocation, they would receive an additional $2,500 to bring them up to $10,000.
  3. Taking into account the formula-based allocation, Step 1, and Step 2, districts and charter schools who are receiving a lower percentage of ESSER money than their share of students from historically underserved populations (students of color or American Indian students, students eligible for free or reduced-price meals, students receiving special education services, English learners, and students experiencing homelessness, all based on October 1, 2019 enrollment data) will receive additional funds to bring their total share of ESSER funds closer to their share of historically underserved populations.

Allowable uses

What can I spend this money to do?

The first priority of state-directed grants must be to meet any remaining summer school programming needs not met through other funds. Once that is done, funds should be used to meet mental health needs, including through the use of culturally specific mental health service providers. Any remaining funds should be used to meet the needs of students from historically underserved populations, which can include any of the populations identified in Step 3 or any other historically underserved population(s) in the district or charter school.

When meeting the needs of historically underserved populations, the funds can be used very broadly. Specifically, using the language from the statute, ESSER funds can be spent on any of twelve different uses (emphasis added):

  • Any activity authorized by the ESEA of 1965, including the Native Hawaiian Education Act and the Alaska Native Educational Equity, Support, and Assistance Act; the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act; the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006; or subtitle B of title VII of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
  • Coordination of preparedness and response efforts with state, local, tribal, and territorial public health departments, and other relevant agencies, to improve coordinated responses among such entities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.
  • Providing principals and others school leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools.
  • Activities to address the unique needs of low-income children or students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth, including how outreach and service delivery will meet the needs of each population.
  • Developing ad implementing procedures and systems to improve preparedness and response efforts.
  • Training and professional development for staff of the local educational agency on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases.
  • Purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean the facilities of a local educational agency, including buildings operated by such agency.
  • Planning for and coordinating during long-term closures, including for:
  • How to provide meals to eligible students.
  • How to provide technology for online learning to all students.
  • How to provide guidance for carrying out requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
  • How to ensure other educational services can continue to be provided consistent with all federal, state, and local requirements.
  • Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students who are served by the local educational agency that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including low-income students and students with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment.
  • Providing mental health services and supports.
  • Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months and addressing the needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care.
  • Other activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services in local educational agencies and continuing to employ existing staff of the local educational agency.

When can I spend this money?

ESSER funds can be spent on allowable uses dating back to March 13, 2020, and they remain available for obligation through September 30, 2022.

Do I have to follow supplement-not-supplant rules?

No. ESSER funds are not subject to any supplement-not-supplant rules.

Application process

How do I apply for these funds?

Complete the application document, budget worksheet and, if appropriate, nonpublic consultation summary for this program and upload them to SERVS.