Building America

BUILDING AMERICA is a new series of programs focused on domestic policy issues that impact the growth and long-term success of our nation.

hands of a child doing school work

Building America: Reinventing Education

Building America: Reinventing Education is a semester-long experience that explores the $190 billion federal investment awarded to states and school districts through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. The fund is designed to address unprecedented learning setbacks that emerged when schools closed and class time was disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding comes with a timestamp - all dollars must be obligated by September 2024. With a year left in this window, this experiential learning program takes a deep dive into what’s been spent, where investments are designated, whether programs are advancing equitable learning recovery, and challenges that prevent some districts from investing effectively.

With the clock ticking, now is the time to examine whether schools are positioned for the long-game of getting students back on track with learning and development. We will investigate data-driven strategies for equitable learning recovery, like high-impact tutoring, summer and out-of-school-time (OST) learning, technology-enhanced learning, teacher coaching and professional development and community/family engagement and mental health support. Participants will analyze what’s working, and which strategies can be scaled even further to close achievement gaps widened by the pandemic. We will look at federal, state and local policies that inform how ESSER funds can be spent and how decisions are made.

The program includes participation in the National Summer Learning Summit in Washington, DC to learn from education policy leaders, researchers and practitioners from the U.S. Department of Education, DC-based think tanks and national education programs. Students with interest and experience in education policy and practice, government relations and child development are especially encouraged to apply.

This experiential learning seminar is organized by Emily Samose ‘95, a Gettysburg College alumni and consultant based in Washington, DC. Samose has many years of experience, and connections to a broad network of education executives and thought leaders who will share their expertise throughout program sessions.


Students must commit to attending all sessions and the DC experience. Changes may be necessary as opportunities and conflicts arise. Sessions may be in person in Gettysburg or virtual pending speaker availability.

  • Session 1: Wed, Sept 13. 4:00-6:00 pm
    • Introduction and Overview: “Following the ESSER Money.” Program overview, background on ESSER, trends in state & district investments.
  • Session 2: Wed, Sept 27, 4:00-6:00 pm
    • Summer & OST Learning - Review $22 billion set-aside for afterschool and summer enrichment. Prepare for participation in National Summer Learning Summit.
  • DC Trip: Mon Oct. 9, Tues Oct 10, full days
    • Mon Oct 9: National Summer Learning Summit, Washington DC
    • Tues Oct 10: Summit debrief, expert meetings, final project prep
  • Session 3: Wed, Oct. 25, 4:00-6:00 pm
    • High Impact Tutoring
  • Session 4: Wed, Nov 8, 4:00-6:00 pm
    • Community Schools
  • Session 5: Wed, Nov 15, 4:00-6:00 pm
    • Teacher Coaching & Support
  • Session 6: Wed, Nov 29, 4:00-6:00 pm
    • Final Project Presentations & wrap-up