The U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today that New Mexico and five other states will each receive a supplemental award from the 2013 Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant fund to improve quality and expand access to early learning programs throughout their states. The total award amount for these supplemental grants is $89,213,863, of which $12,500,000 will be awarded to New Mexico.
On April 16, 2013, the Departments announced that supplemental awards would be made with FY 2013 funds to those six grantees that did not receive the full amount requested. This supplemental award will bring the total funding amount to 75 percent of the funding originally requested in the FY 2011 applications.
In order to receive these supplemental awards, the New Mexico and the five other grantees will need to submit a detailed budget and budget narrative, revised performance measures and signed assurances. Funds must be used to support improvements in the State’s Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System consistent with its FY 2011 application.
“The need for early learning is clear, as studies prove that children who have rich early learning experiences are better prepared to thrive in school,” said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “These funds can help states develop and strengthen programs that serve America’s youngest learners by expanding access to high-quality early education and providing them with a strong start on the path to closing the opportunity gap.”
“As any parent knows, the first few years of a child’s life are critical,” said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Kids who attend high-quality early learning and pre-school programs are more likely to do well in school. They’re more likely to secure a good job down the road; and they’re more likely to maintain successful careers long-term.”
The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge is a key part of the Obama Administration’s comprehensive early learning agenda. The program is jointly administered by ED and HHS, and the two agencies are continuing to work closely together on new initiatives to expand and improve services for children from birth through age 5. Through the RTT-ELC the Obama Administration called on states to create proposals to improve early learning by coordinating existing programs, evaluating and rating program quality and increasing access to high-quality programs, particularly for children with high needs. In the first year, the competition received 37 applications and collectively awarded $500 million to nine states: California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington. In 2012, five additional highest-rated states were awarded grants: Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin. A new competition will be held this year with applications available in late summer.
President Obama understands that the stubborn opportunity gap that confronts far too many American children and limits their life chances, often begins before they even enter kindergarten. The President’s 2014 budget request includes a historic new investment—$75 billion, in fully offset mandatory funds, over a 10-year period—in preschool education that supports universal access for all four-year olds from low-income and moderate-income families through a partnership with the states.