How A District Used ESSER Funds to Transform Education

Gary Community School Corporation is a public school district in Gary, Indiana, about 25 miles southeast of Chicago. The district has faced many challenges, including worn-out facilities, financial struggles, and declining enrollment. With new leadership, and an influx of COVID relief (ESSER) funds, the district has made incredible strides. They’ve achieved a balanced budget, improved academic services, and now have stable enrollment. One of their major efforts was to replace the furniture in all of their aging buildings. The district chose to partner with VS America to bring new life to their learning spaces.

“The functionality is 10x better than the outdated furniture we had before. Small group arrangements have made learning so much more accessible. Mobility has been key.”
– Mr. Derek Bodley, Assistant Principal, Gary Middle School

Q&A with Toni Mitchell, ESSER Project Manager for Gary Community Schools

How were you able to use ESSER funds towards furniture?

We used ESSER funds to purchase furniture to improve our facilities and address learning loss by increasing student engagement.

How did VS help you throughout the process?

VS helped by providing detailed documentation in their proposal about how furniture can positively affect learning.

Why did you choose VS America for your furniture?

VS brought in samples and presented the products. We conducted a survey and VS stood out to the reviewers for being able to support different types of instruction. We are very happy with our decision to purchase VS furniture. It has very positively impacted learning. The new furniture allows students to easily form different groups and collaborate effectively. VS was able to meet our timing needs perfectly to limit disruption in the schools.

Any tips you would offer to other schools who want to use ESSER funds towards furniture?

Know what you’re purchasing – do your due diligence. Think about how it can impact student learning.

Transform Your Spaces

There’s still time – schools have until September 30, 2024 to use ESSER funds. Discover how VS can help you transform spaces with ESSER funds.

About VS America

VS America, Inc. is a leading manufacturer of educational furniture for K-12 schools, colleges, and libraries. Focused on best practices for educational facilities worldwide, VS develops adaptable, ergonomic, and sustainable furniture solutions which allow for the creation of agile learning environments. For more information, visit