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Five More States Secure Early Learning Challenge Grants

by Dan Marshall, published

Illinois, New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon, and Wisconsin will get a share of the 2012 Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, a $133 million grant fund to enhance superiority and expand access to education programs throughout those states. The five finalists join the nine existing state grantees who secured first-round funding last year.

Arne Duncan, the US Secretary of Education, said that every child is worthy of the lasting benefits of a high-class learning program:

"Thanks to the leadership of governors, state officials, and education advocates across the now 14 Early Learning Challenge states, thousands more of our youngest children will receive a stronger start to earning the skills needed to succeed in Kindergarten through college and career."

The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge first started in 2011 and is jointly managed by the US Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services.

With this competition, the Obama administration called on states to make proposals in order to improve early learning by managing existing programs, assessing and rating program quality, and increasing access to luxurious programs, mainly for children with high needs.

How the Grant is Helping Young Children

The Early Learning Challenge grant competition concentrates on advancing early learning and development programs for young children by supporting the state efforts:

  •  Increase the number and percentage of low-income and inconvenience for the children in each age group of infants, preschoolers, and toddlers who are enrolled in high-quality early learning programs.
  •  Plan and execute an incorporated system of high-quality early learning programs and services.
  •  Be sure that any use of appraisals conforms with the advices of the National Research Council's reports on early childhood.

The awards for the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge will go to the states that are leading the way with ambitious and yet attainable plans for executing consistent, compelling, and complete early learning education reform.

The funding from the first year attracted thirty-seven applicants and awarded $500 million to nine states, including California, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Minnesota, Ohio, Washington, and Rhode Island.

The US Department of Education, with more humble funding opportunities for 2012, invited the next five highest scoring candidates to amend their plans for up to 50% of original funding.

Kathleen Sebelius, the US Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said that the Obama administration "is raising the bar for quality in early education programs".

The departments of Education and Health and Human Services have declared the following awards: Illinois—$34,798,696, Colorado—$29,907,916, Oregon—$20,508,902, New Mexico—$25,000,000, and Wisconsin—$22,700,000. The grants will be honored over a 4-year period in accordance with every state’s plan.

The US Department of Education also declared the sixty-one finalists in the 2012 Race to the Top District competition on November 26. The total number of applicants was 372 for the $400 million prize which will be divided proportionally among the winners.

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