Missouri applies for federal education grants

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Missouri is among 35 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico that have submitted applications for the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, a $500 million state-level competitive grant program designed to improve early learning and development.

If Missouri wins a grant the state could receive $60 million over the next four years. Missouri applied for a grant from phase one of Race to the Top in 2010, but did not receive one. In Race to the Top, the U.S. Department of Education rewards states that create comprehensive improvement models according to specifications.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has said that despite not receiving grants, the state is still developing the models.

Kathy Thornburg, assistant commissioner for the Office of Early and Extended Learning for DESE, said if Missouri were to receive the grants this year, the state could continue work on improvement of data assessment and find ways to allow more children from low-income families to attend high-quality early learning programs.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, applications will undergo peer review by early childhood experts from across the country and the departments of education and health and human services will award grants to the highest-ranking applicants within funding availability. Award amounts will vary depending on a state's population of children from low-income families and proposed plan.

States that win the grants will have their funding released by Dec. 31.

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