In May 2010, Congress committed $500 million for the Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge grant (RTT-ELC). On October 19, 35 states, DC and Puerto Rico submitted applications for grants ranging from $50 to $100 million, based on relative population of low-income young children. These innovative, competitive state-level grants address the needs of the most vulnerable children through a comprehensive approach— supporting activities to enhance quality in early childhood education programs, align standards, and coordinate disparate elements of early care and education into a more efficient, unified, high-quality system with measurable outcomes.
Nine states—California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington—received Phase 1 funding for a grant period lasting from December 31, 2011, to December 31, 2015. The next five highest-scoring states—Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin—were invited to apply for $133 million of FY12 funding for a grant period of up to four years on April 9, 2012. The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that all five invited states submitted applications for up to 50 percent of the funds requested in their original applications on October 26, 2012, and on December 6, 2012, announced that all five states would receive Phase 2 funding.
The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asked states to promote school readiness for children with high needs by focusing their applications on the following five areas:
- Successful state systems
- High-quality, accountable programs
- Promoting early learning and development outcomes for children
- A great early childhood education workforce
Measuring outcomes and progress
Read a summary of the Phase 2 Early Learning Challenge application requirements
Read a summary of the Phase 1 Early Learning Challenge application requirements
Visit the U.S. Department of Education's Early Learning Challenge page
Learn about the Early Learning Challenge Collaborative, a partnership between FFYF and BUILD to leverage the RTT-ELC to cultivate, support, and sustain successful state systems of early learning