Contributor: Brent Madoo and Shannon McCaulley, Chief Data Officer’s Office, OPEPD
With COVID-19 causing an unprecedented disruption to education, Congress and the Trump administration took swift action to raise billions in funding to keep students of all ages learning. The passage of the $ 2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Aid and Economic Security Act (CARES) raised $ 30.75 billion to an education stabilization fund. The Department of Education worked quickly to ensure that taxpayers’ money went to states, fringe equivalents, schools and colleges to meet the learning needs and well-being of students across the country.The Education Stabilization Fund (ESF) is mainly funded through the (1) GEER Fund (Governor’s Emergency Education Relief), (2) the ESSER Fund (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) and (3) the HEER Fund (Higher Education Emergency Relief) ) distributed. Each fund is unique and has specific purposes so that students can continue studying during the pandemic. To promote transparency and accountability for the use of funds, the department has created the ESF transparency portal website at covid-relief-data.ed.gov.
This first launch of covid-relief-data.ed.gov will give the public an insight into where the department’s emergency aid is being sent. In a subsequent update, covid-relief-data.ed.gov will provide additional information, including information on how these funds will be spent, after the annual data is collected from the fellows. The ultimate goal of the ministry is to provide students, teachers, parents and local education leaders with clear and transparent information on how the unprecedented taxpayer investment will be used to meet the educational needs of our country’s schools and students affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some key features of the website designed to help the public learn more.
A variety of visual displays make the ESF data searchable and understandable. Users can explore each of the three utilities and see an interactive map of how funds have been allocated at the state level and in a corresponding outlying area.
Through the ESF portal, users can examine state-level funding through the state profile pages, which provide a holistic view of total state funding, the relevant outlying area, local education agencies (LEAs) and higher education institutions (IHEs) from the department. Users can browse the school districts and organizations that have received ESSER funding from the state education agencies, which colleges, school districts, and organizations have received GEER funding from the governor’s office, and which colleges have received HEER facilities and institutions grants for student emergencies from the Department.
The ESF portal also has links to the certification and agreement letters for the state’s GEER and ESSER grants detailing their plans to provide educational services to students during school closings and to implement their return to school plans.
The ESF portal data is updated regularly. Early next year, the department will expand functionality within the portal to allow government and IHE fellows to provide annual data on funding approved by the ESSER, GEER and HEER funds. This provides the public with a better understanding of how colleges, school districts, and others have received funding in each state and peripheral areas to support grant activities such as distance learning, student health and safety, and emergency response carry out support for accommodation and meals for students and more.
The first launch of the Education Stabilization Fund portal this month is the first step in the ministry’s work to provide full transparency to the public about how education funding was and ultimately spent under the CARES Act. We encourage the public to visit covid-relief-data.ed.gov in the coming months for new data and information on how states, equivalent outskirts, school districts and colleges spend ESF grant funds to help students our nation to continue learning and thriving as you grapple with the challenges posed by this unprecedented national emergency.