Launch of New Tool to Track Education CARES Act Funding

By: Brent Madoo and Shannon McCaulley, Office of the Chief Data Officer, OPEPD

As COVID-19 caused unprecedented disruption to education, Congress and the Trump Administration took quick action to provide billions in funding to help learning continue for students of all ages.  The passage of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act appropriated $30.75 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund.  The Department of Education worked swiftly to ensure that the taxpayer funds went to states, equivalent outlying areas, schools, and institutions of higher education to address the learning needs and well-being of students across the country.The Education Stabilization Fund (ESF) is distributed primarily through the (1) Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, (2) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, and (3) Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund. Each fund is unique and has specific purposes to help students continue to learn during the pandemic. To promote transparency and accountability for use of the funds, the Department created the ESF Transparency Portal website at covid-relief-data.ed.gov.

This initial launch of covid-relief-data.ed.gov will provide the public with insight into where the Department’s emergency relief funds are being sent. In a subsequent update, after annual data are collected from grantees, covid-relief-data.ed.gov will provide more information, including information about how those funds are being spent. The Department’s ultimate goal is to empower students, teachers, parents and local education leaders with clear, transparent information on how the unprecedented taxpayer investment is being used to address the educational needs of our nation’s schools and its students impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some key features of the website to help the public learn more.

Interactive State Maps and Charts

Through a variety of visual displays, the ESF data is searchable and understandable. Users can explore each of the three relief programs and see how the funds were allocated at the state level and equivalent outlying area through an interactive map.

Transparency Portal Home page

Discover More in State Profiles

The ESF portal allows users to explore funding at the state-level through the state profile pages, which provide a holistic view of the total funds awarded to the state, equivalent outlying area, Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and institutions of higher education (IHEs) by the Department.  Users can search the school districts and organizations that were awarded ESSER funds from the State Education Agencies, what institutions of higher education, school districts, and organizations received GEER funds from the governor’s office, and the institutions of higher education that were awarded HEER institutional and student emergency grant funds from the Department.

The ESF portal also links to the Certification and Agreement Statements for state’s GEER and ESSER grant awards, showing their plans to provide education services to students during school closures and implementation of return to school plans.

State Profile

Coming Soon… Uses of CARES Act Funds

The ESF portal data will be updated frequently.  Early next year, the Department will expand capabilities within the portal to enable state and IHE grantees to submit annual data regarding funding authorized through the ESSER, GEER and HEER funds. This will provide the public fuller insight into how the funds are being used by the colleges, school districts and others that received funds in each state and equivalent outlying area to implement grant activities such as distance-learning, ensuring student health and safety, providing emergency support for college student’s housing and meals, and more.

This month’s initial launch of the Education Stabilization Fund Portal serves as the first step in the Department’s work to provide the public with full transparency into how CARES Act education funding was awarded and ultimately spent.  We encourage the public to visit covid-relief-data.ed.gov in the months ahead to view new data and information on how the ESF grant funds are being spent by states, equivalent outlying areas, school districts, and institutions of higher education to help our nation’s students continue to learn and thrive while grappling with the challenges presented by this unprecedented national emergency.