Moments ago, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius revealed the number we’ve all been waiting for: $500 million for Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grants. This investment is a hard-earned down payment in an ongoing campaign to provide the nation’s most vulnerable children with what they need to be successful and to ultimately create greater economic prosperity for all of us.

The First Five Years Fund is grateful for the commitment to early learning demonstrated today by President Obama and Secretaries Duncan and Sebelius, and we thank them for this unprecedented opportunity to build systems and launch improvements that can dramatically change the landscape of early learning opportunities for at-risk children.

All of your hard work really has paid off. For many of you, the even harder work of applying for these grants awaits. This morning’s announcement revealed few additional details about how the competition would be structured, but it did open the opportunity to provide input in the coming weeks via this new website. The FFYF team is busy gathering every available scrap of information, and we will share details and analysis as they become available.

Administration officials, including Roberto Rodriguez of the Domestic Policy Council, Jacqueline Jones from USDE, and Joan Lombardi from HHS, will also be discussing the announcement on a conference call today at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. You may join that call by dialing 888-603-9753 and entering pass code 1076837. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me or FFYF National Director Harriet Dichter with any questions. We will be back in touch soon.