The U.S. Department of Education (ED) awarded Tennessee $830 million in funds to reopen and secure schools. The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) earned these funds based on their American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Plan (ESSER). All states may submit an ARP ESSER plan. So far, ED reports that 40 states have submitted one.

According to the ED press release, this latest funding brings Tennessee’s total ARP funds to nearly $2.5 billion.

ED Secretary Miguel Cardona said that this plan was satisfactory to the Biden Administration for the reopening and advancement of schools after the pandemic. Cardona added that the plan meshes with President Joe Biden’s goal of building back better, a reference to the president’s campaign slogan and sweeping $7 trillion plan.

“I am excited to announce the approval of Tennessee’s plan,” said Cardona. “It is heartening to see, reflected in these state plans, the way in which states are thinking deeply about how to use American Rescue Plan funds to continue to provide critical support to schools and communities, particularly as we move into the summer and look ahead to the upcoming academic year. The approval of these plans enables states to receive vital, additional American Rescue Plan funds to quickly and safely reopen schools for full-time, in-person learning; meet students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs; and address disparities in access to educational opportunity that were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The state plans that have been submitted to the Department lay the groundwork for the ways in which an unprecedented infusion of federal resources will be used to address the urgent needs of America’s children and build back better.”

TDOE Commissioner Penny Schwinn shared that Tennessee’s ARP ESSER plan included a $4 billion investment in academic support like tutoring, early reading resources, student readiness programs, and educator support programs.

The statewide tutoring model will be provided by Tennessee Accelerating Literacy and Learning Corps (TN ALL Corps) for the next three years. TDOE will allow districts to apply for matching grants to fund TN ALL Corps, as well as apply for matching grants for academic acceleration support.

The funds will also bolster Tennessee’s Reading360 initiative launched earlier this year.

Additionally, the funds will cover at-home learning resources and materials from providers like PBS and the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network (TSIN).

Read more details of Tennessee’s ARP ESSER state plan here:

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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].