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How to Spend ESSER Funds Strategically for K-12 Transformation

Actionable tools and resources to help district leaders invest ESSER funds with a "Do Now, Build Toward" approach for sustainable transformation.

District leaders all over the country are facing a unique challenge: How can they use federal COVID-relief funds, like ESSER, to enable transformative, sustainable change that improves the experiences of—and outcomes for—all students?

Whether your district has been steadily spending ESSER dollars or has significant funds left to spend, there’s still time to make the most of these resources before the spending deadline. Now is the moment to integrate ESSER funds into comprehensive, long-term plans for staffing, scheduling, partnerships, and learning acceleration that align to your district’s strategic priorities. It’s possible.

Informed by our work with districts across the country and what we’ve heard from the field, we've developed actionable tools and resources designed to help district leaders spend their ESSER funding strategically to transform schools for good.

ESSER Strategy Guides for School Staffing, Spending, and Scheduling

Looking to invest ESSER funds in high-impact priority areas like high-dosage tutoring, professional learning for teachers, or credit recovery? We’ve created nine detailed strategy guides to help district leaders get programs off the ground and lay the foundation for long-term change. Each guide details relevant research, highlights opportunities for sustainable investments, makes priority recommendations, and provides concrete examples from districts already doing this work.


Top ESSER Resources for District Leaders







 These 10 strategies for investing ESSER dollars address urgent needs now and build toward redesigned schooling models that have lasting impact beyond funding deadlines.

  In this interactive game, choose investments and navigate trade-offs to support students through pandemic recovery and leave your district in a stronger position after ESSER funds expire.

  District leaders are under immense pressure to spend ESSER funds. This resource can help you find powerful starting points for investing COVID-relief funds and get students back on track.










Additional ESSER Tools and Resources

Move from theory to action with practical tools, resources, and stories from the field:

Building Toward Effective High-Dosage Tutoring Programs

Learn how Dallas ISD, Indianapolis Public Schools, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools implemented high-dosage tutoring programs to accelerate student learning. Read about the actions each district took early on, how those decisions are enabling them to build toward more expansive programs, and what lessons they’ve learned along the way.

How to Review ESSER Spending for Strategic Planning

By analyzing, exploring, and planning around data, district leaders can adjust and align their ESSER strategy to their overall district strategy. Download our guided facilitation document and view an example of a data tracking tool that districts have used to monitor and assess their ESSER spending strategies.

Using a “Continuous Improvement ROI” Model to Maximize ESSER Outcomes

Discover the return on investment (ROI) of your ESSER spending with a continuous improvement mindset, a method of assessing spending efficacy even during the early stages of implementation. This resource explores four critical elements of a successful continuous improvement ROI approach to help districts succeed.

How Tulsa Built Sustainable Improvement Systems to Connect Vision, Strategy, and Implementation

Creating a strategic plan is one thing—but implementing the plan is something else entirely. Read how Tulsa Public Schools moved smoothly from a bold vision to strategic planning to effective implementation by establishing new structures, organizing new teams, and leveraging a continuous improvement approach.

How to Enable Transformational Change in K-12 School Districts

We're in a historic moment of uncertainty, exhaustion, and a desire for normalcy—and leaders can’t do it all. That's why it's crucial that district leaders take small, research-backed steps to build toward an inspiring, bold vision. Learn how a "Do Now, Build Toward" approach can help enable transformative, sustainable change with doable steps.

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