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Federal Funding Guide

School Rescue Funds Ranking Tool

The American Rescue Plan can fund our schools’ most critical needs. Help us rank what the funding priorities should be in your state and district to share with lawmakers.
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Published: July 2021

We have an unprecedented opportunity to reshape the future of public education with the huge investment in public schools under the recently passed American Rescue Plan (ARP). After a year that upended the way we educate our children, rather than trying to shift back to the status quo, we must rethink public schools and create a system that our students deserve.  

That’s why the National Education Association created the School Rescue Funds Ranking Tool below to help educators raise their voices and lead the way when advocating for the use of this critical funding. The federal government requires both states and districts to engage with education stakeholders – so we’ll use your rankings of the most important issues that need funding to make sure policymakers understand the needs of our students and educators.  

Please review the brief descriptions for each category of fund use. Every category is important, but your district has its own unique list of top urgent needs. Your voice is critical to ensuring the funds go where they are most needed. 

Then, using the form below the descriptions, rank your top three priorities to share with your state and district how you’d like these funds to be utilized.  


Investing in Educators
From new staff hirings to professional development and paid leave this section covers a wide range of educator-related issues. This includes:

  • Increasing staffing to support small classes
  • Hiring additional specialized instructional support personnel; nurses; additional janitorial staff; additional mental/emotional health experts
  • Provide Covid-19 related paid leave
  • Support new educators who were unable to complete their clinical training.

Extended Learning Opportunities
Focused on funding outside the regular classroom hours, this section covers extended learning ideas and programming while still adhering to contract standards. This includes:

  • Implementing extended day or school year programs
  • Providing incentive pay to educators willing to teach over the summer
  • Implement summer learning
  • Providing additional one-on-one tutoring
  • Making student devices available during the summer months.

Addressing the Unique Needs of Students
This section covers funding for activities to address the unique needs of low-income children or students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth. This includes:

  • Reducing class sizes
  • Sending meals to students homes
  • Providing compensatory services to students with disabilities outside of the regular school day
  • Engaging in anti-racist capacity building, leadership, and resource allocation
  • Scaling-up or extending successful strategies under existing programs.

Mental Health Services & Supports
Still facing the dire and continued consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, this section focuses on strategies to meet the social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs of students. This includes:

  • Implementing full-service community schools
  • Employing board-certified Behavior Analysts
  • Hiring additional school counselors
  • Providing professional learning opportunities around social and emotional learning and recognizing and addressing trauma.

Investing in Equity
This section is centered on holistic funding for the students, families, and educators that make up the larger school community. This includes:

  • Supporting access to early childhood education
  • Engaging families and community members
  • Providing additional training to staff to improve the delivery of instruction for blended/virtual/hybrid learning environments
  • Translation services and curriculum development

Educational Technology
Centered around the purchase and distribution of new technology and related training, this section focuses on bringing public schools into the 21st century. This includes:

  • Investments into online platforms
  • Providing technology devices and software to all students and educators
  • Ensuring all students have access to reliable internet connections
  • Upgrading connectivity abilities and internet speeds throughout school buildings
  • Purchasing assistive technology and/or adaptive equipment for students with disabilities.

Keeping Schools Safe
This section covers funding to develop and implement procedures and systems that work to improve preparedness and response efforts. These funds can also be used to develop strategies and implement public health protocols that maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other staff. This includes:

  • Purchasing and installing disease mitigation structures
  • Investing in a flexible school calendar
  • Building a more effective and sustainable remote learning model
  • Providing supplies to disinfect school facilities
  • Ensuring all students and staff have PPE
  • Providing training for staff on cleaning and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases.

School Infrastructure
This section focuses on ensuring that school facilities are up to date and safe for return. This includes:

  • Improving air quality
  • Updating filtration, purification, and other air cleaning systems
  • Replacing old/moldy furniture; repairing/replacing windows
  • Improving school water quality. 

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National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.