New Jersey Department of Education

Understanding and Combining ESSER and Federal Funds

Recognizing the significant challenges our country's schools face throughout and emerging from the pandemic, the U.S. Congress and the President approved three rounds of ESSER funding. Additionally, in consultation with stakeholders, the New Jersey Department of Education created specialized grants for local education agencies (LEAs). A major focus of these funding streams is to support education initiatives intended to accelerate learning and address the academic and mental health impacts of COVID-19 for students, families, and educators.

This unprecedented influx of additional funding LEAs an opportunity to meaningfully rethink traditional education policies and practices to best meet the needs of all students, particularly the most vulnerable and those most impacted by COVID-19. Rather than seeing these new funds as short-term, one-time supports, LEAs may consider how best to leverage ESSER funds in conjunction with existing Federal funding streams to have lasting impacts on students and school communities.

The ESSER funds come with very few restrictions on how they can be spent, allowing LEAs great leeway in making decisions most appropriate for their local needs. Long-term funding streams (such as Title IA, Title IIA, Title III, IDEA, and others) have more restrictions on spending to ensure that specific populations are supported, and educational goals are met. This guide outlines an array of different activities LEAs might choose to implement with ESSER funds that may be able to be supported with other Federal funding streams in the long term. 

See the Department's pages on ESSER and ESSA for greater details on each funding stream and their lists of allowable uses. The information below provides an overview of different funding streams and how to combine them.

Page Last Updated: 05/09/2024

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