GRANT: Final Application for Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Released

August 23, 2011

On August 23 2011, the Obama Administration released the final application for the
Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC), which will provide
$500 million in State-level competitive grants to improve early learning
and development programs.

The goal of the RTT-ELC is to better prepare more children with high
needs for kindergarten because children from birth to age 5, including
those from low-income families, need a strong foundation for success in
school and beyond.

Robust research shows that high-quality early learning programs
improve children's health, social-emotional development, cognitive
ability, and school success. High-quality programs also help close the
wide school readiness gap that exists between children with high needs
and their peers. Yet, the U.S. lacks a coordinated system for improving
and evaluating early learning and development programs as well as
sharing best practices across programs and States.

"Investing in the health and educational development of our youngest
children is critical to ensuring America's long-term strength and
competitiveness," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen
Sebelius. "With this Early Learning Challenge, we are spurring
innovation in the early education field and putting more children on a
path to learning, opportunity and lifelong success."

RTT-ELC will set a high bar and reward States with the strongest
plans to improve the quality of early learning and development programs.
In their applications, States must demonstrate a commitment to building
coordinated systems, aligning resources and policies, and increasing
access to high-quality early learning and development programs for
children who need them most.

RTT-ELC will focus on five key areas of reform-

  • Establishing Successful State Systems by building on the
    State's existing strengths, ambitiously moving forward the State's early
    learning and development agenda, and carefully coordinating programs
    across agencies to ensure consistency and sustainability beyond the
  • Defining High-Quality, Accountable Programs by creating a
    common tiered quality rating and improvement system that is used across
    the State to evaluate and improve program performance and to inform
    families about program quality;
  • Promoting Early Learning and Development Outcomes for Children
    to develop common standards within the State and assessments that
    measure child outcomes, address behavioral and health needs, as well as
    inform, engage and support families;
  • Supporting A Great Early Childhood Education Workforce by
    providing professional development, career advancement opportunities,
    appropriate compensation, and a common set of standards for workforce
    knowledge and competencies; and
  • Measuring Outcomes and Progress so that data can be used
    to inform early learning instruction and services and to assess whether
    children are entering kindergarten ready to succeed in elementary

"The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge will reward States that
are leading the way in improving quality and coordination among their
early learning and development programs, and as a result, better serving
children and families," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
"This fund will leverage best practices and pave the way to reinventing
early education in the United States."

Grant awards will range from around $50 million up to $100 million,
depending on State population and proposed plans. Applications are due
on October 19 and the Departments of Education and Health and Human
Services will announce winners in December.

To view the application and learn more about the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, see the link below.



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