Earlier this month, the BUILD Initiative, the Alliance for Early Success, EducationCounsel, NIEER, and the Ounce of Prevention Fund coordinated a meeting in Chicago, IL to provide information and assistance to states interested in applying for the new Preschool Development Grant Birth – 5. The meeting saw an excellent turn out, with 32 states represented and more than 180 participants in total. Teams left the meeting excited to apply for PDG B-5 grants that will assist in growing their states’ early learning system.
The Preschool Development Grant Birth – 5 were established as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This updated version of the grant is meant to improve coordination and collaboration across various aspects of states’ early childhood systems. The funding opportunity announcement from the Department of Health and Human Services specifically highlighted three focus areas for states: maximizing parental choice, strengthening the delivery and quality of existing programs, and addressing the persistent inequitable access to early childhood programs. The first year of the grants will fund state-level needs assessments and strategic planning to facilitate enhanced early learning systems.
The Chicago meeting helped states learn more about the components and requirements of the grant application. The meeting also offered numerous sessions on topics that enabled state teams to determine how they would best utilize the funding, thus informing their application writing. Examples of these sessions included infant and toddler care, data systems, and transitions within the early learning continuum; there were also several sessions focused on the technical aspects of grant writing. Many partners from the early learning and care community created and shared resources during the various sessions, these resources can be found here. State teams found the meeting to be inspiring and helpful as they complete their applications ahead of the November 6 deadline.
The federal government is encouraging all states to apply for PDG B-5. Grants will range from $500,000 to $15,000,000 and there are expected to be as many as 40 grantees. The first year of funding allows states to develop or update a needs assessment in addition to a strategic plan. Since there is dedicated funding for planning, even states with limited capacity in early learning should applying in order to improve the foundation on which the system of early childhood education in states is built.
More information about the PDG B-5 program can be found here.