Tactical Tips

While this strategies document includes specific tactical tips for each of the four major ESSER investment areas, below are some general considerations that school districts may find helpful:

Lead with your district’s values. ESSER funding is just one resource that is helping to accomplish your district’s vision and priorities. Putting those values first, and then describing how ESSER funds are helping you get there, will tie this investment more closely into a broader narrative.
Consider communication timing, channels, and spokespeople. ESSER funding can provide the content for announcements at key moments in the school calendar – e.g., back to school, end of semester, state of the district, budget-setting process – or be used as part of Evergreen (communications that can be used anytime and are not tied to a time of year or event) (continually relevant) communications that remind target audiences of how the district is supporting students. Multiple channels – newsletters, websites, social media, print, TV, and radio – can help amplify the messaging. And a variety of spokespeople – including district leaders, principals, teachers, caregivers, and school staff, and community members – can provide a personal lens into how ESSER funds are supporting your community.
Highlight the connection between stakeholder engagement and your investment decisions. Colorado school districts have intentionally engaged their communities and included the voices of key stakeholders in ESSER funding decision-making. Talking about what district leaders heard and from which stakeholders provide important context as part of broader communications. For example, an announcement about using ESSER funds to hire school counselors could highlight a student focus group or parent survey that pointed to this need. Engaging your community on how you have spent and continue to spend ESSER funds can and should be an ongoing process. Communication can emphasize that ESSER investments are addressing challenges identified by community members based on your local needs and realities.
Focus on impact. All ESSER funds are designed to have a specific benefit – whether it’s safer schools through HVAC upgrades, accelerating learning through evidence-based tutoring, or improving student well-being through mental health support. Being clear and specific about the impact – not just the investment – will make communication efforts stronger and more compelling.