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The U.S. Department of Education recently released “Frequently Asked Questions: Using American Rescue Plan Funding to Support Full-Service Community Schools & Related Strategies.” We are excited to share this historic opportunity to expand the Communities In Schools program with this federal funding.

This document spells out how school districts can use coronavirus relief funds to build out community schools that partner with local organizations to bolster after-school programs, health care, and other services to students, parents, and the surrounding community. Communities In Schools is specifically mentioned as an example of how American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funds might be used to provide integrated student supports. Additionally, this report from Georgetown University identifies Communities In Schools as a model for encouraging interagency collaboration.

In the release of this document, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona states, “When schools are at the center of our neighborhoods and communities, children and families benefit. I hope that the resource we are releasing today will help states and school districts use American Rescue Plan funds to increase access to evidence-based community schools for more students and families across the country.”

As you work on your ARP ESSER plans, we encourage you to consider taking this opportunity to either bring Communities In Schools to your community or grow existing programs to meet the needs of more students and families. Please contact Kelly Stanford, Chief Program Officer, to implement or expand the CIS program at your school for the 2021-2022 school year.

Thank you for being all in, for all kids.

Malissa Martin, President and CEO
Communities In Schools of Mid-America

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When schools were forced to close their doors and move learning online, the long-standing inequities in our education system were thrust into the spotlight. Many students did not have access to the internet or electronic devices to participate in remote learning. They did not have enough to eat or adequate supervision at home and lost the daily support of teachers, peers, and counselors. This collective trauma combined with extended periods of remote learning has led to what researchers call the COVID slide. Current studies substantiate the early predictions that the COVID slide will result in nine to ten months of learning loss and up to 11 months for students who entered the pandemic already significantly behind their peers.

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While the academic consequences will permeate our education system for years, the remedy must include a collaborative focus on student re-engagement and wrap-around support services. In volume two of the ED COVID-19 Handbook (available below), the Department of Education emphasized the value of Integrated Support Services (ISS) and listed CIS as just one of three recommended ISS services providers (page 35 of the handbook). Our unique position inside the schools affords CIS the ability to be at the forefront of the academic and social-emotional recovery effort.

We strongly believe a dedicated Student Support Coordinator, delivering CIS’s evidence-based model of integrated student supports, at every Title I school is crucial to stabilizing students and families as well as creating a foundation of supports for the long-term.

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The full name of the ‘‘American Rescue Plan ESSER" fund is the "American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief" fund or "ARP ESSER". The ARP ESSER is funding from the COVID-19 stimulus package. The ARP ESSER includes $123 billion for K-12 state education agencies, (including $800 million for homeless children); $40 billion for institutions of higher education; and $2.75 billion to governors for private schools.

CIS of Mid-America's work every day in partner schools is fully aligned with the purpose and intent of the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funds coming to local school districts. These funds represent a critical opportunity to bring the CIS model and quality program to more students and families. Now, more than ever, CIS of Mid-America can be a key part of the effort to support students and families to overcome barriers and challenges threatening the success of a generation of students and have a vital impact on the success of both students and schools.

As schools plan how to utilize these funds effectively for the greatest impact, CIS of Mid-America is proposing that school leaders consider allocating funding to bring CIS to schools that have not had the benefit of our program. CIS is a smart use of these funds in schools to support recovery from the COVID pandemic. CIS can respond to many of the long-term effects of COVID as well as the chronic stressors overwhelming students, teachers, and families in under-resourced communities.

Education funding provided by the ARP ESSER could address social-emotional learning, mental health supports, basic needs for students, and much more through the implementation of CIS programs. We can be a strong partner to schools in re-engaging students and their families and assist in mitigating the effects of interrupted and disrupted learning. This is crucial to stabilizing students and families as well as creating a foundation of supports for the long-term.

YES. The American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) fund specifies that Department of Education funds can be used for any programs or services authorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Section 2001: Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief (ESSER III) fund ($123 billion) states that at least 90% of these funds must go to school districts.

Within 30 days of receiving funding, school districts must publish a plan to reopen schools for in-person instruction. In addition, at least 20% of funds must be used to address learning loss through evidence-based interventions that respond to students’ academic, social, and emotional needs. This is what CIS of Mid-America does for students and families every day.

CIS of Mid-America has long accessed funding under ESEA, and the reauthorization of ESEA provided increased flexibility in CIS of Mid-America accessing this federal funding source by naming integrated student supports as an allowable use of funds in Title I.

ESSA created a flexible block grant program under Title IV, Part A, called the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants. The program authorizes activities that provide a well-rounded education, supports safe and health students, or supports effective use of technology, thus qualifying CIS providers for this funding. CIS affiliates currently draw down these funds.

Department of Education Allocates $800 Million in American Rescue Plan Funds to Support Students Experiencing Homelessness

May 13, 2021

This message was originally sent out on the SNAPS HUD.gov mailing list. HUD Exchange is redistributing this message for awareness. Instructions to subscribe to the HUD.gov listserv are located at the end of this message.

On Friday, April 23, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced plans to distribute $800 million to help support the needs of students experiencing homelessness under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief. These funds are being released in two disbursements – $200 million was released on Monday, April 26, 2021, and an additional $600 million will be released as soon as June 2021. A list of total State allocations is available on ED's website.

The funds awarded under ARP can be used to facilitate the identification, enrollment, retention, and educational success of homeless children and youth, including:

  • Providing wraparound services (which could be provided in collaboration with and/or through contracts with community-based organizations, and could include academic supports, trauma-informed care, social-emotional support, and mental health services)
  • Purchasing needed supplies (e.g., personal protective equipment (PPE), eyeglasses, school supplies, personal care items)
  • Providing access to reliable, high-speed internet for students through the purchase of internet-connected devices/equipment, mobile hotspots, wireless service plans, or installation of Community Wi-Fi Hotspots (e.g., at homeless shelters), especially in underserved communities
  • Paying for short-term, temporary housing (e.g., a few days in a motel) when such emergency housing is the only reasonable option for COVID-safe temporary housing and when necessary to enable the homeless child or youth to attend school and participate fully in school activities (including summer school)

Additionally, these funds can be used for community-based organizations that are well-positioned to identify youth from historically underserved populations, including rural children and youth, Tribal children and youth, students of color, children and youth with disabilities, English learners, LGBTQ+ youth, and pregnant, parenting, or caregiving students, to educationally related supports and services.

These funds are being released to States, which can use up to 25% of the funds for state-level planning and activities. States must distribute the remaining 75% of the funds local education agencies (LEAs) for local needs. HUD encourages Continuums of Care (CoCs) and Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) providers to reach out to States and LEAs in your area to collaborate on assisting children and youth who are experiencing homelessness, including sharing data from Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS); making connections between families in the homeless response system and LEAS; and considering connections between the LEA and your local Coordinated Entry System.

Additional Resources

SNAPS Mailing List Subscription

SNAPS is now using two different listservs to communicate competition and program updates:

SNAPS grantees and interested stakeholders should consider subscribing both to the HUD Exchange mailing list and HUD.gov mailing lists. Please communicate this information to your homeless organizations, local government contacts, and other interested stakeholders.


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Kelly Stanford, Chief Program Officer
C: 970.819.9482