Obama Administration Announces $500 Million for Early Learning Challenge


President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have announced a new $500 million state-level grant competition, the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge.

Joining Duncan and Sebelius at the announcement were business, law enforcement and military leaders who have advocated for increased investments in early learning to reduce crime, strengthen national security, and boost U.S. competitiveness.

“To win the future, our children need a strong start,” said Secretary Duncan. “The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge encourages states to develop bold and comprehensive plans for raising the quality of early learning programs across America.”

The Race to the Top- Early Learning Challenge will reward states that create comprehensive plans to transform early learning systems with better coordination, clearer learning standards, and meaningful workforce development.

States applying for challenge grants will be encouraged to increase access to quality early learning programs for low income and disadvantaged children, design integrated and transparent systems that align their early care and education programs, bolster training and support for the early learning workforce, create robust evaluation systems to document and share effective practices and successful programs, and help parents make informed decisions about care for their children.

The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grants will encourage states to make the best possible use of current federal and state investments in child care and early learning. The Obama Administration has sought and secured increased investments in Head Start and child care so that more families have access to quality, affordable care, while also pursuing important reforms such as requiring Head Start grantees to compete for continued funding.

The Race to the Top- Early Learning Challenge will be administered jointly by the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The public may provide input, including data and relevant research, by visiting www.ed.gov/blog/201 1/05/rtt-early-learning-challenge/.

Guidance, eligibility, range of awards and number of grants will be announced in coming weeks. The application will be released later this summer with grants awarded to states no later than December 31, 2011.


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