Begin Main Content Area

​July 28, 2021

Dear Colleague,

Through the American Rescue Plan Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ARP ESSER), Pennsylvania is receiving more than $5 billion in non-recurring federal emergency aid to assist schools and students. While the ARP Act allocates 90 percent of this funding directly to school districts and charter schools via the Title I-A formula, and another seven percent is reserved for specific activities required by the ARP, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is awarding the majority of the remaining funds—roughly $135 million—to an array of school entities, including entities not otherwise eligible to receive ARP Act funding.

Through Act 24 of 2021, the following school entities have been allocated a portion of the 2.5 percent ARP ESSER State Reserve:

  • Career and Technical Centers;
  • Intermediate Units;
  • Schools designated for Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (A-TSI);
  • Private Residential Rehabilitative Institutes, Approved Private Schools, and Chartered Schools for the Deaf and Blind; and
  • Entities providing services for youth in local correctional institutions and community day programs.

Specific allocations for each school entity are posted on PDE's website. Applications for these funds will be open in the eGrants system in the coming weeks; please watch for notification from the PDE's Division of Federal Programs.

The ARP Act requires all local education agencies (LEAs) receiving ARP ESSER funds to develop a Plan for Safe Return to In-person Instruction and Continuity of Instruction, hereinafter referred to as the Health and Safety Plan. A school entity planning to receive part of the 2.5 percent ARP ESSER State Reserve must post a Health and Safety Plan, approved by its governing body, on its publicly available website by August 30, 2021, or prior to the school year—whichever is earliest. In addition, a copy of the Plan must be uploaded into the school entity's eGrants application, along with a link to the webpage where it is posted. Plan requirements, resources, and a sample plan template to guide schools with adjusting their existing Health and Safety Plans is available on PDE's website.

As a reminder, ARP ESSER funds are non-recurring, emergency aid. Accordingly, entities are advised to consider how this ARP ESSER funding might interact with other federal funding, including the role of enhanced funding flexibilities, to promote sustainable use. ARP ESSER funds can be used for a broad array of purposes as articulated by the ARP Act; however, school entities should continue to prioritize equity when planning and consider how such investments can accelerate learning opportunities for students and families, particularly students living in poverty, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care. All school entities receiving ARP ESSER funding will be required to report detailed information to the U.S. Department of Education regarding how those funds served high-need and at-risk populations.

PDE will provide additional information, guidance, and resources in the weeks ahead.

Thank you for your ongoing, dedicated service on behalf of Pennsylvania's students.

Sherri Smith
Acting Deputy Secretary
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education