Utilizing ESSER and ESSA (including Title I and III) funds for family engagement

using esser funds

As year-end funding and strategy decisions progress in schools around the country, administrators and decision-makers are tasked with finding impactful options for their federal ESSER and ESSA (including Title I and Title III) dollars. TalkingPoints has connected 4 million teachers, administrators and school staff with the families they serve, particularly those from the most vulnerable and under-served communities, with two-way human translated communication in more than 145 languages. Schools and districts around the country used ESSER, American Rescue Act, and Title funding to purchase TalkingPoints for Schools & Districts.


We also know that school leaders are looking for ways to maximize summer instructional time. Check out our recent edWebinar “7 Strategies for Using Summer as a Springboard to a Successful Fall Through Family-School Engagement” here


TalkingPoints is the leading multilingual K-12 family engagement platform that connects families and schools through instant, two-way, translated messages in 145 languages, powered by human translators and artificial intelligence, for the success and wellbeing of each and every student. As a nonprofit, our focus is on removing systemic language, access, and technology barriers so teachers and families can meaningfully engage and form strong relationships. We invest in the highest-quality translation, contextualized for K-12 education, using human translators as well as machine learning/AI. As a result, we have facilitated more than 400 million conversations among millions of educators and families – conversations that help build deeper relationships that have a big impact on student outcomes:


  • 100% of low-income, non-English-speaking families are more involved in their child’s education after using TalkingPoints with their child’s school
  • 98% of teachers were able to reach families they had never reached before
  • 93% of educators saw improvements in student classroom engagement, attendance, grades, well-being, and attitudes towards learning.
  • Family Engagement is a proven and cost-effective way to drive student outcomes. Research shows that family participation in education is 2x more predictive of students’ academic success than family socioeconomic status. 


ESSA & Title funding

ESSA requires school-to-home communications take place “to the extent practicable, in a language that parents can understand.” In other words, regular two-way communications with parents and families must be available in the family’s home language. In addition, parent engagement language in Title I of ESSA requires schools and districts to make strong efforts to reach out to all parents and family members. 


From Title I, Part A, Subpart 1, Section 1116:

  • “A local educational agency may receive funds under this part only if such agency conducts outreach to all parents and family members and implements programs, activities, and procedures for the involvement of parents and family members in programs assisted under this part consistent with this section.”
  • “[E]ach school served under this part shall jointly develop with parents for all children served under this part a school-parent compact. … Such compact shall … address the importance of communication between teachers and parents on an ongoing basis through, at a minimum … ensuring regular two-way, meaningful communication between family members and school staff, and, to the extent practicable, in a language that family members can understand.”

Title III Immigrant Set-Aside funds can be spent on: 

  • Family literacy, parent outreach and training activities designed to assist parents in actively participating in the education of their children.


ESSER Funding

On March 11th, 2021 the federal government passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Act, which allocates ~$123 billion to K-12 school districts, distributed per Title 1 formulas, 20% of which must address COVID learning loss. These funds MUST be obligated by September 30, 2022. 


Reaching and engaging all families – especially those the pandemic has disproportionately impacted – is critical to student success. We can help. TalkingPoints is an allowable use of stimulus funds. The following American Rescue Act provisions apply to TalkingPoints:

    • 2001.e.2.k: Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students who are served by the local educational agency that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including low-income students and children with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment.
    • 2001.e.2.n: Addressing learning loss among students, including low-income students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and children and youth in foster care, of the local educational agency, including by—
      • (iii) providing information and assistance to parents and families on how they can effectively support students, including in a distance learning environment
  • 2001.e.1: Stipulates that 20% of funds must be allocated to addressing learning loss and the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on high-needs student subgroups, including disadvantaged students and English learners, as described in 20 U.S.C. 6311(b)(2)(B)(xi))
  • 2001.e.2.f: Covers activities to address the unique needs of low-income children, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, and other high-needs students


Technology platforms alone cannot fulfill parent involvement requirements, but they can increase engagement and two-way communication, which can improve student achievement and outcomes. For more information about leveraging your school or district’s available funding options with TalkingPoints, request more information via this form or email us at hello@talkingpts.org.

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