open book 1428428 1920CHICAGO – The Illinois State Board of Education received $569 million through the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, and Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) is encouraging districts to apply.

In total, $512 million allocated by ISBE will go directly to Illinois school districts. The funds will support their local response to the COVID-19 pandemic while also preparing schools for unique challenges of the upcoming school year.

“Children in disproportionate communities have been at an unfair disadvantage during the pandemic,” Lightford said, “Being unable to continue your education without the adequate tools should not be a punishment. Schools should take advantage of these grants to make sure children are staying ahead.” 

The remaining ESSER funds will be divided into seven categories and will allocate $33.3 million for laptops and tablets, $7.1 million for internet connectivity, $6.5 million for virtual coaching in support of an estimated 4,000 new teachers entering the teacher profession in the fall, $6.5 million for professional development, $2.8 million for state administration and $685,000 for entities unable to receive funds due to ineligibility for the federal Title I program.

More than $80 million of the combined GEER and ESSER funds will be used to close the digital divide for K-12 students. A total of $20.5 million will fund training for K-12 educators and families.

ISBE will be hosting an ESSER webinar on July 23. Click here to register. The application for the GEER and ESSER grant opens on August 14. Click here to apply.