Federal Relief Funding for the Music Classroom

This article was updated on May 28, 2021

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, also called the COVID-19 Stimulus Package, is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed into law on March 11, 2021. The bill includes over $120 billion for K-12 education, as well as a number of other provisions that will affect schools. The package is likely the biggest single federal outlay on K-12 education in U.S. history. Learn more about the American Rescue Plan: Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) in this outline and fact sheet.

✓ Find out how much your state will receive in K-12 relief funds here.
✓ You may also look up the projected amount of funds your county will receive here (by the National Association of Counties).
✓ Access a free ESSER worksheet and outline to help you secure funds for your music program here (by Be Part of the Music).


So, what does music education have to do with the stimulus bill?
Music is part of a well-rounded education as defined by the federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and supported in state laws throughout the country. ESSA will unlock relief funds for music education!

✓ NAMM Foundation Resource: Music is Part of a Well-Rounded Education brochure and advocacy talking points – click here!

The U.S. Department of Education recommends funds be used for “expansion of music programs, including purchasing of instruments” to address the social, emotional, mental heath and academic needs of students!

Now that we know this, let us keep music education top of mind while funds are issued to school districts. There are numerous ways a school leader or music teacher can advocate for these dollars to be allocated to music programs. Read the latest news about the stimulus bill and speak to your district leaders regarding funding for your music classroom. Learn more about the arts and ESSA in the Arts Education Is Essential statement.

If you need more guidance for how to advocate for music eduction in your school district, please check out our Advocacy Tools or visit Save The Music’s online Music Education Resources.


☑ The K-12 funding falls under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund, which was included in two previous COVID-19 relief bills. 

☑ 90% of the $128 billion will go to school districts. The Title I formula determines how much each district gets.

☑ Schools have flexibility in spending funds. The law identifies 12 types of spending as allowable uses for the ESSER funds. Schools can use the money for education technology, mental health services, school building improvement and cleaning supplies, and other services that are necessary to maintain school operations.

☑ Districts must use at least 20% of the money to address student learning loss, this includes music and arts education in addition to other subjects.

☑ The funds will help cover districts’ pandemic-related safety costs, particularly ones that run into the 2021-22 school year.

☑ The new money comes to nearly $2,500 per student nationwide, but high-poverty districts will see more funds per student.


Expand your music program – including the purchase of new musical instruments – to address the social, emotional, mental heath and academic needs of students.

Purchase personal protective equipment including face masks, instrument bell covers, or sanitation supplies, as well as purchase materials to set up classroom for physical distancing.

③ Purchase devices or software that assist students and families with internet connectivity, hybrid and virtual learning.

Provide professional development training for music educators about how to conduct in-person classroom learning safely.

⑤ Address student learning loss with supplemental music camps or additional in-school and after school programming.

Thank you to the following resources for helping us, music educators and administrators understand how the recent federal relief funding can be utilized for districts, schools and music classrooms.

How the American Rescue Plan will affect schools

By Chalkbeat: Frequently asked questions are answered about the March 2021 pandemic relief package for K-12 education.

What Does COVID-19 Aid Mean for Schools?

From EducationWeek: See what the relief bill means for education in terms of money and data for each state and school district.

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief

From the U.S. Dept of Education: Congress allocates funds through the CARES Act for the ESSER Fund.


From NAfME: Read and download a ESSER Funding Toolkit, a step-by-step guide and FAQ about how to unlock COVID relief funding for the music classroom.

Congress approves massive infusion of funds for schools

By Chalkbeat: What the American Rescue Plan bills means for schools, its provisions and goals for K-12 education.

Dept of Education Announces American Rescue Plan Funds

From the U.S. Dept of Education: The official press release about K-12 education relief funding.