Ideas for ESSER Funds with Contextual Learning Programs

School districts around the country have received a once in a lifetime amount of funding through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER).  As you consider applying for ESSER dollars, we want to share with you the process we used to apply for ESSER III funding to support AMPED on Algebra, Geometry in Construction, and the spread of Contextual Learning across our large district.  Now in its final stage, ESSER III, many school professionals have been asked to put together proposals regarding how to best utilize the funding.  According to the research conducted by the non-partisan group, Common Sense Institute of Colorado, the top five school districts throughout the Denver Metropolitan area have all been allocated a total of $839,945,372.  The bulk of these funds (approximately 60%) have already been allocated and spent through the first two rounds of ESSER funding as all school districts battled through the COVID-19 pandemic.  Now as we all work toward transitioning from the pandemic to an eventual endemic, there is an incredible, once in a lifetime, opportunity to analyze the needs to develop some very strategic and targeted ways to improve education for ALL students.

In preparation for the release of ESSER III dollars we conducted a needs analysis and came up with five goals as our guiding principles for Contextual Learning Programs:

  1. Math achievement “slide” due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
  2. CTE-Contextual Learning positive growing pains,
  3. Continued transformation and improvement of the student task,
  4. Enhancement of commitment to workforce development, and
  5. Creation of a potential longer-term pathway for recruitment, hiring, and training math and CTE teachers.


Once we arrived at these top goals, we then went to work on developing an “optimal plan.” Similarly to how we started the Geometry in Construction program 17 years ago, we reached for the stars and said that nothing was too big.  As we continued to focus in on this huge dream list, the true litmus test started to materialize once we set a benchmark that each item to remain on the list had to meet at least three of the goals mentioned above in order to remain on the list.  Once we set this as the criteria, then the rest was easy.

Any of us who have been in education for some time know there are never enough funds to go around and there are always more needs to be addressed than dollars.  Unfortunately, at this time we cannot list anymore specifics about our exact proposal because final details are still being worked on as ESSER III applications are due in December.

Please feel free to contact Scott for more details about ESSER III at:

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