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David GaygenMar 1, 2024 1:20:29 PM5 min read

Why Use ESSER Funds for Inchy's Bookworm Vending Machine

Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) is a collaborative effort between State Educational Agencies (SEAs) and Local Educational Agencies (LEAs). Their mission is to combat the challenges facing schools after pandemic closures seriously stunted student learning.

The path to student success is paved with books. Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machine offers an unparalleled opportunity to harness ESSER funds for a literacy revolution in your school. The window for utilizing these funds is closing rapidly. Now is the moment to act and make a lasting impact on your students’ educational futures. That's why we created this guide to using ESSER Funds for Inchy's Bookworm Vending Machine.


What Are ESSER Funds?

According to the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education; The American Rescue Plan, ESSER III, allocated $122 billion in relief funds for districts and schools. A minimum of 20 percent of these funds must target unfinished learning, commonly known as learning loss. The deadline for utilizing ESSER funds is September 30, 2024. Don't miss out on the opportunity to invest in your students' achievements!

What Can ESSER Funds Be Used For?

Many school districts have available ESSER funds that can be used for:

  • Identification and remediation of incomplete learning
  • Evaluation
  • Summer learning, after-school programs, and extended day initiatives
  • Assistance for diverse student demographics
  • Professional development

Why Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machine?

Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machine addresses learning loss by providing free and equitable access to a diverse selection of books. There is simply no better way to target reading skills improvement. Combating learning loss experienced during school closures is not easy. But Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machine can make it fun.

The novel approach of acquiring books from a vending machine can re-engage students who have become disinterested or disengaged from traditional learning methods due to the pandemic.

 Red Creek Central School District


According to their website, Red Creek Central School District utilized ESSER Funds to introduce an exciting addition to get their students’ excited about reading— Inchy's Bookworm Vending Machine. This innovative initiative offers students the opportunity to acquire brand new books to keep. The unveiling took place in March at Cuyler Elementary, following a wave of enthusiasm from the community.

“It was like I was in a dream,” said third grader Jayce Williams after getting his book from the vending machine. “I wanted to get a good book that I wanted to keep forever.”

During Read Across America Week, held from February 27th to March 3rd, students at Cuyler Elementary were engaged in various activities. By participating in mystery reader sessions and deciphering mystery words, every student earned a special token designed for the vending machine. 

Tina Johnson, the school's librarian, emphasized, “It’s more of an incentive to get the students to read and enjoy books while rewarding them for positive behavior,” 

Red Creek Central School District Inchy's Bookworm Vending Machine Ribbon Cutting

Tokens are earned through tasks, recognition as a RAMS Reader, or adherence to the school's RAMS Values. Once obtained, students can exchange tokens for books from Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machine. 

Skylar Stevens, a third grader, said, “It’s really good because some kids can’t afford books and now kids can get free books,” 

The initiative extended beyond Cuyler Elementary. Another book vending machine installed in Red Creek High School's atrium will cater to middle and high school students. Both machines, along with the initial book supply, were funded through federal pandemic relief money (ESSER). Future restocking will be sustained by grants, support from community partners like the Wayne County Literacy Volunteers, and contributions from the Red Creek PTA.

For students like Jayce Williams, the experience of selecting a book from the vending machine was nothing short of magical. As he excitedly declared, "I wanted to get a good book that I wanted to keep forever."

ESSER Alignment

Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machine meets the definition of an eligible expense under ESSER and the American Rescue Plan. Our program improves the mental, physical, and academic health of students in grades k through 12 by providing free and equitable access to books. The program is simple: Students are recognized with a gold token for birthdays, academic achievements, or good behavior. Then students use the gold token to vend a book that builds their home library. This proven program is already active in over eight-thousand schools. That’s over three-million students positively affected and over seven million books vended.


ESSER Alignment Chart - BookVending

By aligning with ESSER Fund goals, Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machine supports academic and social-emotional development of students. It also contributes to creating safer and more inclusive school communities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How To Apply For ESSER Funds

State Educational Agencies (SEAs) are the leaders of this educational task force. They distribute subgrants to the Local Education Agencies (LEAs).

School districts (LEAs) must formally apply to their respective SEAs, such as the “[State Name] Department of Education” or the “[State Name] Office of Public Instruction.” A minimum of 90 percent of each SEA’s ESSER Fund grant is designated for subgrants to LEAs. This is a guaranteed support system for education.

ESSER funding allocation is available until September 30, 2024. To maximize the impact of the ESSER funding, schools are encouraged to start planning promptly. Institutions should identify students in need of additional support and devise effective strategies to bolster education.

For further clarity on ESSER, explore our comprehensive FAQ section.

Strategic Utilization of ESSER Funds

ESSER funds are essential for students in need, including English language learners, students with disabilities, those from low-income families, diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, kids in foster care, those without homes, and students in rural areas. Remarkably, these funds extend even to the acquisition of a book vending machine.

As for spending the funds, schools enjoy a plethora of options. From empowering teachers with professional development to endowing students with cutting-edge technology, the possibilities are diverse. Whether it’s enhancing mental health support, facilitating tutoring, or fostering an enriched learning environment, schools can curate an impressive buffet of educational initiatives.

Remember, schools must adhere to federal regulations. Every expenditure needs meticulous documentation, showcasing the positive impact on students’ lives.

Act Swiftly

Seize the opportunity to optimize the ESSER funds before their expiration in September 2024. This is your moment to illuminate and establish classrooms that truly excel!

If ESSER funding does not align with your needs, explore the other offerings in the Funding section of takes pride in contributing to a cause beyond our individual endeavors. We are committed to utilizing our resources make a meaning ful contribution children’s literacy.

Contact us today. Our Literacy Experts are standing by to assist you.


David Gaygen

There is something exciting about a book vending machine. Everyone who hears about it, instantly wants to be a part of it—and that is David's favorite part of the job. In addition to being the community manager and content creator at, he also enjoys being part of the Reading Revolution Podcast. Read. Reward. Inspire. That's what it's all about. Join David and this ever-growing community of educators and literacy champions at