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Leveraging Resources: Blending and Braiding Funds Community of Practice (CoP)

Project Lead: Beth Howard-Brown, EdD

During the August 2021 statewide school board meeting, questions arose about how districts are being supported in capacity building for determining how to best expend ESSER funding, with specific mention of support for braiding and blending practices. To address this need, the Region 9 Comprehensive Center (R9CC) codeveloped a needs-sensing survey with ISBE to inform professional development for district leadership.

Based on the needs identified from the survey, R9CC collaborated with ISBE to plan a community of practice (CoP) for district leadership teams focused on blending and braiding funds. This CoP consisted of four professional development sessions that covered topics including, 1) comprehensive needs assessment, 2) introduction to blending and braiding funds, 3) developing best practices for resource allocation, and 4) reporting on blending and braiding of funds.  These sessions were designed to encourage district leaders to partner and learn from their peers while identifying and using tools and resources to support strategic blending and braiding of funds. In addition, R9CC collaborated with ISBE to compile the resources and lessons learned from this CoP to produce Braiding and Blending Federal Funds: A Step-by-Step Guide for Illinois Schools that will be shared with school and district leaders throughout Illinois and beyond.