Funding | News

States Vie for $280 Million in Early Learning Grants

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia are competing for $280 million in federal in federal funding through the latest round of the Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge.

According to the United States Department of Education, recent applicants included Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. Individual awards are expected to range from $37.5 million to $75 million based on the states' proposals and their "share" of preschool-aged kids from low-income families.

To date, 14 states have received funding under the program — nine in 2011 and five in 2012. Those states that are currently receiving funding through the previous RTT–ELC were not eligible to apply in this round.

RTT–ELC, part of the Race to the Top initiative, is a federal program that was developed as a means to help states overhaul their early learning systems with "better coordination, clearer learning standards, and meaningful workforce development." RTT–ELC is administered jointly by the ED and Department of Health and Human Services.

The overarching goal of the program is the establishment of state early learning systems. The program also aims to bring preschool into the high-stakes testing arena with the establishment of accountability systems for schools and for the preschoolers themselves the development of "common standards within the state and assessments that measure child outcomes, address behavioral and health needs, as well as inform, engage and support families," according to ED. The program is also geared toward providing professional development for those working within early learning programs.

ED reported that winning states will be notified of their awards in December.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 29-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEDavidNagel (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).