Policy & Funding | News

ED, HHS Award $89 Million in Supplemental RTT Early Learning Challenge Grants

Six states will receive a total of $89 million in supplemental awards from the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant program to fund improvements and "expand access to early learning programs throughout their states," according to the United States Department of Education.

Recipients of the supplemental awards include California ($22.4 million), Colorado ($14.98 million), Illinois ($17.7 million), New Mexico ($12.5 million), Oregon ($10.3 million), and Wisconsin ($11.4 million). Those states did not receive the full amount they had requested in their fiscal year 2011 grant applications. According to ED, the supplemental awards bring their total funding up to 75 percent of the original requests.

The RTT Early Learning Challenge is a part of the Race to the Top initiative, a federal program focused on driving changes in public schooling through competitive grants to states and local education agencies to promote academic reforms, investment in teachers and education leadership, improvements in student achievement, and deelopment of data systems designed to track student oucomes.

Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge was developed as a means to help states overhaul their early learning systems with "better coordination, clearer learning standards, and meaningful workforce development." Early Learning Challenge is administered jointly by the United States Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services.

"The need for early learning is clear, as studies prove that children who have rich early learning experiences are better prepared to thrive in school," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a prepared statement. "These funds can help states develop and strengthen programs that serve America's youngest learners by expanding access to high-quality early education and providing them with a strong start on the path to closing the opportunity gap."

"As any parent knows, the first few years of a child's life are critical," said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, also in a prepared statement. "Kids who attend high-quality early learning and pre-school programs are more likely to do well in school. They're more likely to secure a good job down the road; and they're more likely to maintain successful careers long-term."

The six supplemental awards are contingent upon the states submitting detailed budgets, along with a "budget narrative, revised performance measures and signed assurances. Funds must be used to support improvements in the State's Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System consistent with its FY 2011 application," according to ED.

About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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