Grants and Funding
ESSER Funds for School Playgrounds
Can ESSER Funds be Used for Playground Equipment?
Yes. ESSER funds can be used to buy playground equipment. These federal funds were set aside to help students with the social and emotional challenges that came with COVID.
With hundreds of millions of dollars allocated to every state, even up to $23.4 billion for California and $19.2 billion for Texas, this is a special moment to invest in the learning and developmental opportunities students find on the playground.
What are ESSER Funds? How Does it Work?
In efforts to alleviate strains on the America education system caused by the pandemic, the federal government passed three relief laws and opened nearly $190 billion nationwide in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER, funding.
States requested school districts to submit plans on how they'd use the funding, with enormous flexibility on how to spend it.
How can ESSER Funds be Used for Schools?
Simply put, schools can determine the eligibility of a project by asking:
"Does it impact the social, emotional, mental health and academic needs of students brought on, or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic?"
Studies show that a child’s physical, social-emotional, and cognitive growth is not only supported by play, it’s developed through play. Updating your school playground equipment is a wonderful way to complement the learning happening inside the classroom by promoting physical activity, fostering social connections with their peers, and expanding their mind in imaginative, themed play.
Let us help you take the first step in your ESSER funding plans
Please fill in your contact details and we'll get in touch soon.
When do ESSER funds expire? Will I get to keep any unspent money?
Each of the three pandemic relief packages has a different deadline for fund designation, and they expire in a sequential order from when they were signed into law. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed promptly in March 2020 and has since expired. The deadline for the second package, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act, is quickly approaching. The American Rescue Plan, authorized a year after the pandemic's declaration in March 2021, has the latest deadline, with more than a year left for planning funds' purposes.
ESSER I (CARES Act): Sept. 30, 2022
ESSER II (CRRSA Act): Sept. 30, 2023
ESSER III (ARP): Sept. 30, 2024
However, these deadlines aren't a straight cutoff. The U.S. Department of Education will consider waivers for districts in the event of an ongoing construction project, like a playground installation.
What types of playground equipment can be purchased with ESSER funds?
There aren't strict guidelines on the types of commercial playground equipment you can buy with ESSER funds. Each category of our playground equipment will look striking on your schoolyard, so it comes down to deciding what play value will be the best fit for your students. Rope climbing playgrounds hold a treasure trove of developmental opportunities, and our playground systems can be customized to engage students, as young as Pre-K or as old as middle school, with a variety of play activities.
If your community makes eco-friendly choices that prioritize our future generations, know that your choice in playground equipment can also reflect that. Our GreenLine collection is made sustainably by recycling waste sources, like ocean and plastic waste, and repurposing them into playground panels and posts.
Can I buy more than just commercial playground equipment from KOMPAN?
Can private or charter schools apply for ESSER funding?
Yes. Charter schools (under local education agencies, or LEAs) have access to ESSER funds, just like public schools. Stipulations around private schools vary state by state, but the U.S. Department of Education does state nonprofit private schools are eligible for funding through the Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS).
I'm still feeling very lost. Who can I turn to?
We understand navigating this process has brought challenges. KOMPAN has helped school districts in the mid-Atlantic and South turn ESSER funds into successful playground projects, and we're ready to walk through this path again with you! Fill out the contact form above, and we'll be in touch shortly.
"We want active play and active learning. In fact, we consider these playgrounds as outdoor learning spaces."
Orton Varona - President, North Tampa Christian Academy