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CARES Act Funding: How Governors Are Spending the Money

CARES Act Funding: How Governors Are Spending the Money

When the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly closed schools last spring, the United States Congress dedicated about $30 billion to help the education sector. In April, we held a webinar that gave a great breakdown of the CARES Act and What Educators Need to Know, taking a closer look at how these funds would be used. Of the $30.75 billion allocated, approximately $3 billion was made available to state governors directly to distribute within their respective states as they saw fit. These funds, referred to as the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER Fund), are being tracked by The Hunt Institute to see where the money has been allocated by states as that information has become available.

Below are some of the highlights of where state governors put their dollars. Some of this data was originally made accessible by FutureEd.


The most popular allocation of GEER Fund dollars by governors has been in expanding broadband access. Thirty-six states set aside part of their funds in order to expand broadband to students without Internet access. This includes strategies such as providing Wi-Fi through buses and local libraries, and Maine even paid for 14,500 Internet contracts. Texas is ensuring that 100-percent of students have broadband access and the necessary devices at home through “Operation Connectivity.”

Remote Training/Curriculum

Thirty-five governors are designating GEER Fund money for curriculum and teacher training to deliver remote learning. Idaho is developing an online learning program with public television. Oklahoma has established grants to families for tutoring and online curriculum, as well as expanded its virtual AP offerings. Missouri is developing training for educators that will “address the technical and instructional expertise” needed for remote teaching. This training will include the unique needs of students with disabilities, English language learners (ELLs), economically disadvantaged students, and students from racial and ethnic minorities.


Thirty-four states set aside funding for laptop computers and other devices. Notably, Tennessee set up a grant program that allows districts to pay for laptops, tablets, and Wi-Fi devices needed to provide distance learning. Arkansas is buying 20,000 devices. Washington is analyzing specifically on using GEER Fund dollars to support technological capacity and access for low-income and rural students.

Reopening Schools

Only seven states allocated money for reopening schools. They include New Mexico, which set aside money for sanitizing, cleaning, and buying protective gear, and North Dakota, which used the funding to “support the health and safety procedures” needed to reopen.

Students with Disabilities

Advocates for students with disabilities have been vocal about how this segment has been poorly served during the pandemic. From this criticism, six governors targeted GEER Funds money to students with disabilities. Texas will invest in a virtual dyslexia intervention. Arizona and Maryland are giving funds to specialized schools for the deaf and blind. New Hampshire has allocated funds to ensure that students with disabilities are staying on track and meeting educational goals.

Of the 47 states that have released detailed plans, most governors split their funding between K–12 schools and higher education. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is sending all of his $164 million directly to K–12 districts, allowing them to decide how to spend it.

Check out our blog post Building an Intervention Game Plan to learn more about how states are tackling education this year. You can also read our breakdown of the CARES Act from earlier this year here.