Congressman Jared Polis's advocacy for additional early childhood education funding paid off today as the U.S. Department of Education announced that a portion of this year's Race to the Top grants will be dedicated to state Early Learning Challenge grants. Department officials cited such advocacy as a major factor in Education Secretary Arne Duncan's decision to offer these grants. Colorado is expected to be in line to receive funding.
"Decades of research shows that when children are engaged in quality early learning opportunities it pays dividends in terms of higher achievement and success throughout life, which is why I pressed the Department to offer these grants to states," said Polis. "With only two states now ranked ahead of Colorado, our state has the distinct opportunity to be awarded an Early Learning Challenge grant, which would strengthen the quality early learning services in our state and its counties and school districts."
Colorado may be in line to receive some of the Early Learning Challenge funds because the state ranked 3rd among those not funded when 2011 funds were distributed in January. Race to the Top 2012 appropriations language that approved $550 million in new funding allows this action and specifies that the Department can award this year's grants to states based on previously submitted applications.
Polis wrote the Department in January recommending the early learning challenge investment from Race to the Top funds and joined other lawmakers expressing the same in a February letter.