Thirty-five states and Puerto Rico have applied for grants under the new $250 million Race to the Top: Preschool Development Grants (R2T) competition that will expand high-quality early childhood education programs.
The final tally is up from the number that Education Dept. estimated via a count of submitted letters of intent filed in the competition at the end of last month. The filing deadline was Oct. 14.
Winners will be named in December; ED anticipates making up to 25 awards. The grants (CFDA Number: 84.419) are part of a larger effort to offer pre-K to more 4-year-olds.
It has two categories: one to low-capacity or rural states with small or no state-funded preschool programs (Development Grants); and another to high-capacity states with established programs or that have received Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grants (Expansion Grants).
- Development Grants: $80 million for awards ranging from $5 million-to-$20 million per year over four years. To be eligible states must serve less than 10% percent of four-year-olds and have not received an RTT-ELC grant. Up to 35% of the grant award may be used for state-level infrastructure and quality improvements. The nine states applying for the development grants are: Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire and Puerto Rico.
- The late additions are Alabama, Arizona while Indiana and Utah did not file final applications after originally notifying ED they would enter the competition.
- Expansion Grants: $160 million for awards ranging from $10 million to $35 million a year for four years. Eligibility: States that currently serve 10% or more of four-year-olds or have received an RTT-ELC grant. These grants will help states address fundamental needs including workforce development, quality improvement efforts and the scale-up of proven preschool models. The 27 states applying for the expansion grants are: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Washington State.
- The late additions are Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico, New York and South Carolina. West Virginia did not complete the application even though it filed an LOI with ED.
The most curious entry is Louisiana, which is engaged in a furious intra-state battle over the adoption of the national Common Core standards for the state’s K-12 classroom. The anti-Common Core side, which includes Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), has deemed the standards an unnecessary federal intrusion into local school board curriculum decision-making. Even so, while raising the federal over-reach complaint, the state is pursuing a piece of the R2T funding pie.
The R2T grants are known for the enormous heavy-lifting they require, which includes some of the same so-called federal intrusions, like reporting and transparency mandates, which the state is complaining about in connection with the Common Core standards. The standards have never been part of the ED mandate. They are instead an initiative of the National Governors Assn. funded through the deep pockets of the Gates Foundation.
The president wants to create a federal-state partnership that would ensure universal access to high-quality preschool for all 4-year-olds. The $75 billion, 10-year initiative, Preschool for All, is part of the administration’s strategy to improve services for young children (). The preschool initiative is coupled with a companion investment at HHS for voluntary home visitation and quality care for infants and toddlers. The effort would be funded through a $1.6 billion increase in Early Head Start and Child Care (CFDA Number: 93.600) and additional funds to expand evidence-based, voluntary home visits.