Toolkit facilitates district decision making to eliminate barriers to reading and increase equity


CLEVELAND – May 14, 2021 – The federal government has approved billions of dollars of relief funds for schools, but some educators are unclear where the funds originate and how they should be used. Today, OverDrive Education announced a new effort to guide school districts through the process of understanding and using Education Stabilization Funds (ESF). Interested schools can access the full collection of resources in the K-12 Funding Champion Toolkit.

Since March 2020, the U.S. Department of Education has allocated nearly $193 billion in K-12 COVID-19 relief funding to states. The government funds, also known by legislative acronyms CARES, CRRSA, ARP and ESSER, can be used in a variety of ways ranging from improving ventilation, expanding after-school programs and purchasing digital resources like ebooks and audiobooks.

“This is a generation-defining event for American primary and secondary education,” said Angela Arnold, OverDrive Education General Manager. “Because there is so much to navigate, teachers have many questions about what the funds are and how they can be used. We want to ensure our school partners have the resources they need to answer basic questions and also support districts that want to use the Sora K-12 student reading app to address specific funding requirements.”

The Sora app, an allowable use for relief funds, is enabling many districts’ literacy and reading programs. The legislation defines allowable uses for ESF, including “activities that address unique needs of low-income children or students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youths.”

The kit currently includes:

  • “Explainer” PowerPoint presentation that walks educators though key information, including what ESF is and how much they can receive.
  • Proposal template for educators seeking district approval for the use of ESF. This resource provides a starting point for educators who need to work with district leadership to prioritize spend on digital books.
  • Case studies of schools that expanded their digital libraries using ESF.
  • Important ESF-related websites.
  • Editable spreadsheet with recommended digital book titles intended to aid districts in building equitable and inclusive collections with texts about different cultures: Latinx, Indigenous, Asian American Pacific Islander, African American, LBGTQ and texts that have characters with mental and physical differences.

More resources will be added to the K-12 Funding Champion Toolkit in the coming weeks.  For example, OverDrive Education will hold webinars to further address common questions about government relief.

Thousands of schools have turned to digital solutions as a result of remote learning requirements of the pandemic. OverDrive Education increased their network from 20,000 to 48,000 schools throughout the last year, providing ebooks and audiobooks to support curricula and school libraries. In addition, the company donated free digital collections to meet the growing demand through its Sora app. OverDrive Education has also simplified how schools distribute large-volume, digital class sets of required books by working with curriculum providers and expanding edtech integrations.

“As districts undertake this transformation to innovate and empower students, OverDrive Education will work closely with them to meet their needs, especially when it comes to expanding literacy and meeting goals of social-emotional learning,” Arnold said.

The Sora reading app is now used by more than 48,000 schools and districts worldwide.

To find more information to help with education government relief funds, visit:  


About OverDrive Education – a division of OverDrive

OverDrive Education offers the industry’s largest catalog of ebooks, audiobooks and streaming video for 48,000 K-12 schools worldwide. The company’s student reading app, Sora, helps schools embrace the future of reading, providing 24/7 access to books and powerful learning tools and insights to meet the needs of students and educators. Sora was named one of TIME’s Best Inventions of 2019. Founded in 1986, OverDrive – the leading digital reading platform for libraries – and OverDrive Education are based in Cleveland, Ohio USA.

David Burleigh
Director of Brand Marketing & Communications