Unlocking STEM Opportunities: A Teacher’s Guide to ESSER and Title Funds

Does your school have funding for CS and STEM programs?

You may be amazed to hear that most likely the answer is YES! As a teacher, you may not be aware that your school has a variety of resources available from state and federal funds that are separate from the funds for running the typical school programs.  

Some of the funds currently available in 2023 include ESSER, Title I, Title II, and Title IV.  This article will explain what each of these are, and how you as a teacher can find out more information about these resources at your local school. Then we provide advice and a template for asking for funds to support your STEM or Science or Computer Science program.

Table of Contents

As you read this, just remember, you are not alone; you can get free assistance to request these funds. EDforTech STEM experts are here to help.


    • ESSER funds are available to every school and can be used for technology and STEM education enhancement.
    • Title funds are part of federal education funding, with a focus on Title I, II, and IV and can be strategically used for STEM initiatives.
    • Information about district plans for ESSER and Title funds is usually available on district websites, and there are special funds administrators in each district.
    • Teachers should prepare a proposal highlighting the benefits of STEM products with a budget sheet to give to their administrators.
    • Awareness of application deadlines for these funds is critical. ESSER funds need to be spent by 9/30/2024. 
  • EDforTech’s STEM experts are ready to assist teachers with proposal writing and selecting the right STEM resources for their classrooms.
  • Take the easy route. Start with a free STEM Funding Proposal Template for teachers.

1. What Is ESSER And Why Should I Care?

The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund is a lifeline for schools navigating the unprecedented challenges of the 21st century educational landscape. Established under the CARES Act, ESSER is a federal funding initiative designed to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on K-12 education.  

Note: ESSER funds need to be spent by 9/30/2024.  So get your request in now!

Purpose of ESSER Funds

The primary goal of ESSER funds is to support schools in their efforts to respond to and recover from the pandemic. This includes a wide range of activities, from ensuring health and safety in schools to addressing learning loss among students. But the scope of ESSER is more than just a response to immediate challenges. It’s an opportunity for schools to innovate and enhance their educational offerings, particularly in the realm of technology and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education.

ESSER Funds and STEM Education

In an era where digital literacy and technological proficiency are more crucial than ever, ESSER funds provide a unique chance for schools to elevate their STEM education programs. This can include purchasing new technology, investing in digital resources, and providing professional development for educators in STEM fields. By leveraging ESSER funds, schools can create more engaging and effective STEM learning experiences, helping to prepare students for the demands of the future workforce.

In essence, ESSER funds are not just about overcoming the challenges posed by the pandemic; they’re a stepping stone towards a more innovative, technology-rich educational environment, offering a brighter future for both teachers and students.

2. What Are School Title Funds?

Title funds are a crucial element of federal education funding, designed to support various aspects of K-12 education. These funds are part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which was later reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Within Title funds, there are several categories, but for educators, Title I, II, and IV are particularly relevant.

Title I Funds: Enhancing Equity in Education

Title I funds are dedicated to providing financial assistance to schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families. The goal here is to ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards. For STEM education, this means Title I funds can be used to provide additional resources and support to enhance STEM learning experiences for students who might otherwise have limited access to these opportunities.

Title II Funds: Fostering Professional Development

Title II funds are aimed at improving teacher and principal quality. These funds can be allocated towards professional development in STEM areas, helping educators to enhance their teaching skills and stay current with the latest STEM education trends and practices. This investment in educators not only improves the quality of teaching but also ensures that students receive a more effective and engaging STEM education.

Title IV Funds: Broadening STEM Opportunities

Title IV funds are particularly versatile and can be used for a wide range of educational purposes. Part A of Title IV focuses on providing students with a well-rounded education, which includes improving access to and the quality of STEM courses and programs. These funds can be used for purchasing technology and equipment, developing STEM curriculums, and even supporting extracurricular STEM activities, thus fostering a more robust STEM education environment.

The Impact of Title Funds on STEM Initiatives

In summary, Title funds play a pivotal role in promoting equity and excellence in education. They provide vital resources for schools to enhance their STEM offerings, ensuring that all students, regardless of their background, have access to high-quality STEM education. By understanding and utilizing Title I, II, and IV funds, schools can make significant strides in preparing students for a future where STEM literacy is increasingly important.

3. How Can Teachers Find Their District’s ESSER Plans?

Understanding how your district plans to use ESSER funds is key to accessing these resources for your STEM initiatives. Here are steps to guide you through this process: You can find out how much was allocated and access your state’s plan at the Office of Elementary & Secondary Education website here.   In some states there will be a table or PDF document which links to each school district’s allocation of funds.

1. Start with Your District’s Website

The journey to uncovering ESSER fund plans often begins with a simple yet effective step – visiting your school district’s website. Districts are required to make their ESSER fund plans public, and the website is typically the first place this information is shared. Look for sections dedicated to budget, funding, or COVID-19 response updates. These areas are likely to contain a report with detailed information about the allocation and planned use of ESSER funds.

2. Reach Out to District Administrators

For more in-depth insights, consider reaching out directly to district administrators. This can include superintendents, financial officers, or even members of the school board. They can provide detailed explanations of the district’s ESSER fund plans and how these funds are being allocated across various initiatives. Remember, administrators are there to assist and guide educators, so don’t hesitate to ask for specifics, especially regarding STEM-related expenditures.

3. Utilize Internal Communication Channels

If your school has internal newsletters, email lists, or staff meetings, use these channels to stay updated. Often, information about funding and new initiatives is shared through these internal communication platforms.

4. Collaborate with Colleagues

Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of collaboration. Talk with your colleagues, especially those in administrative roles or those who have previously engaged in funding-related activities. They can offer valuable insights and may even have tips on navigating the process.

5. Staying Informed for Empowerment

Staying informed about your district’s ESSER fund plans not only equips you with the knowledge to leverage these funds effectively but also empowers you to advocate for the resources needed to enhance STEM education. Remember, these funds are there to support educational advancements, and your role as a teacher is integral in guiding their effective use.

4. How Can Teachers Access STEM Funds?

As a teacher, accessing ESSER and Title funds for your classroom may seem daunting, but with the right approach, it’s entirely feasible. Here’s how you can take proactive steps to utilize these funds for STEM initiatives:

1. Understand Your Needs and Align Them with Fund Objectives

Start by identifying the specific needs of your students and classroom in the context of STEM education. Do your students need new technology, software, or STEM learning materials? Write down your wish list. Next, align these needs with the objectives of ESSER and Title funds, which focus on addressing learning loss, improving educational equity, and enhancing instructional quality.

2. Develop a Compelling Proposal

Craft a compelling proposal for your administrators. This should be a brief one or two page document. This document should outline:

  • The Specific Need: Clearly describe the STEM resources or programs you need and why they are necessary.
  • Alignment with Fund Goals: Demonstrate how your proposal aligns with the goals of ESSER and Title funds.(Hint: Include these as subheadings in your proposal: addressing learning loss, improving educational equity, and/or enhancing instructional quality).
  • Expected Outcomes: Highlight the potential impact on student learning and engagement. Include any research or data that supports the benefits of STEM education.
  • Budget and Resources: Provide a detailed budget that includes the costs of the resources or programs you’re proposing.  Create a list of items under categories of technology, materials, curriculum, professional development, furniture. Total each category. 

c. Engage with School Administrators

Building a rapport with school administrators is crucial. Present your proposal to them and discuss how these funds can be utilized for your proposed initiative. Be prepared to answer questions and provide additional information if needed.

d. Collaborate with Your School’s Grant Writer or Financial Officer

Many schools have a grant writer or financial officer familiar with the intricacies of federal funds. Collaborate with them to refine your proposal and ensure it meets all funding criteria. Their expertise can significantly increase the chances of your proposal being accepted.

e. Seek Support from Colleagues

Gather support from your colleagues. Joint proposals or endorsements from other teachers can strengthen your case, showing that the need for STEM resources is widespread and beneficial for the entire school or district.

f. Stay Informed about Deadlines and Requirements

Keep track of application deadlines and specific requirements for accessing these funds. This information is typically available on your district’s website or through district administrators.

Note: ESSER funds need to be spent by 9/30/2024.  So get your request in now!

g. Advocate for STEM

Remember, your initiative to access these funds not only benefits your classroom but also contributes to the broader goal of enhancing STEM education in your school or district. Your effort in this endeavor reflects your commitment to your students’ future and the advancement of education.  

5. When are the Deadlines for ESSER Funds?

When it comes to accessing ESSER and Title funds, timing is everything. Being aware of and adhering to deadlines is crucial in ensuring that your school can benefit from these opportunities. Here’s what you need to know about managing these critical timeframes:

1. Understand the Deadlines

Deadlines for ESSER and Title funds are not just arbitrary dates; they are carefully set to ensure a timely and efficient allocation of resources. Missing these deadlines can mean missing out on crucial funding for your STEM initiatives. Some districts will work on their special funding requests during their school budget cycle, while others do it just before or after.

ESSER Funds: The availability of ESSER funds is typically linked to the federal fiscal year, with allocations often announced in the spring and applications due in the late spring or early summer. ESSER funds need to be spent by 9/30/2024.  So get your request in now!

Title Funds: Title fund deadlines are often set at the district level and can vary widely. Generally, these deadlines fall in the late fall or early winter of the academic year.

2. Check with Local Education Authorities

The most reliable source of information is your district education authority. Regularly check your district’s website, and don’t hesitate to reach out directly to district officials for the most up-to-date information.  Each district may have different job titles, but some typical ones are the director of federal programs or federal programs coordinator, director of curriculum and instruction, grants manager or coordinator, Title I coordinator, special education director, chief financial officer or director of finance.

3. Plan Ahead

To avoid last-minute rushes, start planning your proposal well in advance of the expected deadlines. This foresight allows ample time for refining your proposal, gathering necessary support, and ensuring all requirements are met.

4. Set Personal Reminders

Consider setting personal reminders well ahead of the known or anticipated deadlines. This proactive approach will give you enough buffer to finalize and submit your proposal without unnecessary stress.

5. Make it a Priority

This might seem daunting, but with proper planning and a keen eye on the calendar, you can manage it. Remember, these funds represent a significant opportunity for enhancing STEM education in your school, and meeting deadlines is a critical step in this journey.

6. Where Can Teachers Find Additional Funding Information?

To further explore and understand ESSER and Title funds, a wealth of resources are available. These resources can provide detailed information, updates, and guidance to help you navigate these funding opportunities effectively:

  1. U.S. Department of Education
  • ESSER Fund Information: ESSER
    • This official page offers comprehensive details about ESSER funds, including guidelines, FAQs, and updates.
  • Title Fund Information: Title Programs
    • Here, you’ll find information on various Title programs, including their purposes and how they operate.
  1. State Education Department Websites
  • Every state has its own Department of Education website with specific information on how federal funds are managed locally.
  • Simply search “[Your State] Department of Education” to find your state’s specific guidelines and contact information.
  1. National Association of Federal Education Program Administrators (NAFEPA)
  • NAFEPA Website
    • This organization provides resources and support for federal program administrators, including those overseeing ESSER and Title funds.
  1. Council of the Great City Schools
  • CGCS ESSER Resources
    • This council offers resources specifically related to urban public schools and how they can effectively use ESSER funds.

These resources are not just for understanding the nuts and bolts of ESSER and Title funds; they are also platforms for staying updated on changes and new opportunities. Regularly visiting these sites and engaging with these organizations can significantly enhance your ability to leverage these funds for the benefit of your students and school.


How Can Teachers Get STEM Proposal Writing Support?

You’ve gained insights into the world of ESSER and Title funds, and now it’s time to turn this knowledge into action for the benefit of your students. But remember, you’re not alone in this journey. Our team of dedicated STEM experts are here to help you every step of the way.

Why Reach Out to Us?

  • Free Proposal Template: We will give you a well-crafted template to begin from, with most of the information already filled in.  This will save you hours of time.
  • Expertise in Proposal Writing: Crafting a compelling proposal can be challenging. Our specialists have assisted hundreds of teachers in writing effective funding proposals. With our expertise, your proposal will not only meet the necessary criteria but also stand out.
  • Access to Quality STEM Resources: Once you secure the funding, the next crucial step is selecting the right STEM resources for your classroom. Our extensive knowledge of tested STEM products ensures that you find the best fit for your educational needs.
  • Personalized Support: Every classroom and school is unique. We provide personalized support, tailoring our assistance to fit your specific situation and goals.

Reach Out Today!

Don’t let the complexity of funding applications hold you back. Contact us today, to get a very easy to use proposal template to start with. Let’s work together to bring innovative STEM resources to your classroom. Together, we can make a tangible difference in the educational journey of your students.

STEM education encourages the next generation of engineers, technologists, scientists, and artists. Our team of STEM experts are here to support you in implementing meaningful K-12 learning experiences that empower students and educators. 

Request more information today about how you can incorporate STEM learning at your school and increase student achievement.

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