Today the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that all five eligible states--Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin--have submitted applications for the second round of Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge. The Departments will award up to $133 million to fund investments in state-level, comprehensive early education reform.
"The road to good jobs and a healthy economy runs through the classroom, and we can give every child a strong start by increasing access to high-quality early learning programs," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "By applying for the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, these states are continuing commitments to provide children--especially those with high needs--the tools to enter kindergarten ready to succeed in their education and ultimately their careers."
"For our nation to compete in the global economy, we need to utilize the talents of all of our people," said Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Strong early education programs are a key part to helping every child reach their full potential."
Last year, 35 States, D.C. and Puerto Rico applied for the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, creating plans that increase access to high-quality programs for children from low-income families, and provide more children from birth to age 5 with a strong foundation needed to succeed in school and beyond. The Administration awarded nine grants in the first round.
Up to $133 million for the second round of Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge state grants is available from a larger $550 million fund provided by Congress through the Department of Education's fiscal year 2012 budget. Because of the limited funding available, the second round of the Early Learning Challenge was only open to the next five highest-scoring states in order to help build on the momentum from the 2011 competition. These five states were able to apply for up to 50 percent of their original request.
Staff from both Departments will review the applications and make awards by no later than Dec. 31. For more information, visit http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-earlylearningchallenge/index.html.