WASHINGTON—Nine states will share $500 million in grant money won in a competition intended to jump-start improvements in often-overlooked early childhood programs.
The winners to be announced Friday at the White House are California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington, according to an administration official.
The money to aid the nation’s youngest learners is part of the Obama administration’s cornerstone education initiative—the “Race to the Top” grant competition—which has states competing for federal dollars to create programs that make schools more effective. Last year, it handed out $4 billion in similar grants focused on K-12 education.
The goal of the competition is to get more children from birth to age 5 ready for kindergarten. Thirty-five states along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico applied for the chance to win about $50 million to $100 million apiece in prize money. The winnings are to help build statewide systems that affect all early-learning programs, including child care, Head Start centers and public or private preschools. ♦
Below you can read a statement from Todd Otis to the media.
Statement by Todd Otis, President of Ready 4 K, Concerning Selection of Minnesota for Race to the Top Funding
December 16, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Todd Otis, (612) 269-8763
St. Paul – In response to today’s announcement that Minnesota was selected as one of nine states to win a federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant, Ready 4 K President Todd Otis released the following statement:
“Minnesota’s selection to be one of nine states to win a federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant is great news for our state’s youngest citizens. Ultimately the beneficiaries of the new funding will be thousands of young children throughout our state who will experience quality early learning.
“This grant shows that Minnesota is gaining momentum in the effort to improve the school readiness of all our children. The grant represents the hard work of diverse public and private sector leaders through the years, as well an intensive process of officials who put the application together in a concentrated six weeks.
“Governor Dayton and the Commissioners of Education, Human Services, and Health with the leadership of the Office of Early Learning and the Chair of the Governor’s Early Learning Council, deserve credit for formulating a proposal that will boost early learning in our state and create a more solid foundation to build on for the future.
“These funds will help promote quality, increase accountability, improve the workforce, establish better data systems, and promote higher standards throughout Minnesota, as well as improve access to quality early learning in some of the state’s communities in most need. The Race to the Top proposal and plan constitute a blue print for excellence into the future.
“Quality early learning is the foundation for Minnesota’s educational and economic future, and this grant reflects that Minnesota is really getting its school readiness act together.
“Much work remains to be done before every entering kindergartner is ready for school success, but today’s grant represents an important milestone in the march to long-term educational excellence in Minnesota.”