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Federal COVID-19 Education Funding


The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted on March 27, 2020 - a $2 trillion package of assistance measures that include direct payment to families, loans for small businesses, supports for businesses and funding for education. Information on the four education funding streams from the CARES Act is provided here: the Coronavirus Relief Fund, the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund and nutrition.

CARES Act Education Funding: Coronavirus Relief Fund, Elementary & Secondary Education Emergency Relief Fund, Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund and Nutrition Funding.

Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF)

The CARES Act established the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund to support states with expenses due to the public health emergency with respect to the COVID–19 incurred from March 1, 2020, to Dec. 30, 2020. On May 18, Gov. Polis signed Executive Order 20-070, which directed the transfer of $510 million from the State of Colorado’s CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund to the Colorado Department of Education to be awarded to school districts, the Charter School Institute, the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind and facility schools on a per pupil basis. Additionally, each BOCES in the state will receive $25,000.

Addendum A to the Executive Order outlines the allowable uses for the CRF funds.

For questions related to CRF reporting, please contact Jennifer Austin at

Safe School Reopening Grant (SSRG)

In partnership with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) is offering a $15 million, one-time grant funding opportunity for Local Educational Agencies (LEAs - school districts and BOCES) with public schools that are struggling to return to in-person learning and need additional resources to safely reopen when possible.
LEAs are invited to apply on behalf of one or more schools within the district, including charter schools.
To be eligible to receive an award from the Safe Schools Reopening Grant, LEAs must demonstrate that participating schools have struggled to reopen during the Fall and have a plan to spend down all of their previously awarded Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) grant awards by Dec. 30, 2020.
Applicants will also need to be able to expend the Safe Schools Reopening funds by Dec. 30, 2020. Priority will be given to applicants with a high percentage of at-risk pupils.
Note: applicants approved for funding will be asked to work with CDE to complete a budget prior to release of funding. Budgets must be approved by CDE prior to funds being obligated.
Deadline to apply for the grant: November 30, 2020

CRF Grant Code 5012

Given district may spend the CRF funds on any costs associated with at-risk pupils, as they would their typical General Fund State Share payment, we assume that most of 5012 funds will be spent on personnel costs

  • Personnel costs could include Instructional Salaries and Benefits
  • Other costs could include devices to facilitate distance learning, cleaning and sanitizing supplies, PPE, as well as other costs incurred by the district

As these costs need to be associated with at-risk pupils, districts can use the projected or actual at-risk pupils as a percent of total pupils to apply against the selected costs to determine the amount that can be charged to this CRF grant code.

  • Projected student counts can come from those incorporated into the FY 2020-21 School Finance Act
  • Actual student counts can come from Student October Data Pipeline "School Summary of Pupil Count" report
  • This calculation can be done at the district level - It is not necessary to do this calculation at the school level

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER)

The CARES Act established the Education Stabilization Fund, which is allocated according to the following percentages:

  • 43.9% to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund ($13.23 billion)
  • 9.8% to the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund ($2.95 billion)
  • 46.3% to the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund ($13.95 billion)

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund dollars are appropriated to state education agencies (SEAs) based on the 2019-20 Title I shares, with 90% to be allocated to local education agencies (LEAs) that received a Title I allocation in the most recent fiscal year and the remaining 10% for an SEA reserve fund. LEA allocations will be calculated using the Title I formula; however, relief funds will not be subject to Title I requirements.

Colorado has been allocated $120,993,782 from the U.S. Department of Education from the ESSER Fund. Of the total allocation to Colorado, CDE must allocate a minimum of $108,894,404 (90%) to local education agencies (LEAs) and may reserve no more than $12,099,378 (10%). Of the state reserve, CDE may use no more than $604,969 (half of 1%) for administrative purposes. The 10% SEA reserve is to be used for emergency needs as determined by the SEA to address issues related to COVID-19, which may be addressed through the use of grants or contracts.

Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER)

The CARES Act included $3 billion for a Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund. Colorado has been allocated a little over $44 million from the GEER fund. GEER funds are flexible and are able to be used at the discretion of governors. GEER funds can be used to provide emergency support through:

  • grants to local educational agencies;
  • institutions of higher education;
  • other education-related entities deemed essential for carrying out emergency education services;
  • any purpose under most federal education legislation; or
  • the provision of child care and early childhood education, social and emotional support and the protection of education-related jobs.

On June 4, 2020, Governor Jared Polis announced plans for GEER funds:

  • Close to $33 million in grants to school districts, public schools, public institutions of higher education, and other education-related entities to support equity and innovation to address the COVID-19 crisis. The grant program called the Response, Innovation, and Student Equity (RISE) Education Fund will be accepting applications this fall..
  • $5-6 million for dramatically increasing capacity for Colorado Empowered Learning.
  • $3 million investment in educator recruitment and retention to provide stability for school districts through the Quality Teacher Recruitment program.

Nutrition Funding

CDE School Nutrition Unit has administered the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Emergency Feeding efforts throughout the coronavirus pandemic. CDE was allocated $143,151,717 through the FY2020 CARES Act for all meal reimbursement from March 2020 through September 2020. These funds supplement food service programs through meal reimbursement and relieve financial burden on Colorado’s school districts.

CDE School Nutrition Unit recently received funds for meal reimbursement for October 2020 through December 2020.

Starting with October 2020 meal reimbursements, please revert back to normal coding for meal reimbursement revenue.

  • If you are a public school district operating the Summer Food Service Program, your meal reimbursement needs to be coded as Grant Code 4559 starting with the month of October 2020.

For additional detailed coding and financial management information, visit the back to school planning webpage. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding.

Please contact free& if you have any questions.

Federal Child Nutrition Program CFDA# Grant/Project Source Code FY21 Grant Code Timeline
School Breakfast Program 10.553 4553 4000 October 2020 +
National School Lunch Program 10.555 4555 4000 October 2020 +
After School Snack Program 10.555 4555 4000 October 2020 +
Special Milk Program for Children 10.556 4556 4000 October 2020 +
Summer Food Service Program for Children 10.559 4559 4000 October 2020 +
COVID-19 Emergency - CARES Act Funds 10.555 4555 4000 July 2020 - September 2020
Summer Food Service Program For Children 10.559 4559 4000 October 2020 +

*March - September only SRE Code 94 (optional) - can be used to isolate Emergency Feeding/COVID 19 revenue and expenses