State wins cash award in latest Race to the Top battle

  • By Jerry Cornfield
  • Friday, December 16, 2011 8:36am
  • Local News

Washington learned today it will receive up to $60 million in federal funds for a spate of early learning programs.

The money is part of a $500 million prize pool the feds are doling out from the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Fund.

Washington is one of nine states to receive funding in the competitive grant program overseen by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. The others are California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island.

According to the White House, 35 states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico competed for funds. Each created a plan to increase access to educational programs and services for children from birth to age 5.

“This is very welcome news and helps us further give our children every possible tool that they need to excel in today’s world,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a statement.

“Washington’s application shone because it was a truly collaborative effort. We brought together public and private partners in early learning and K-12 to improve school readiness for all children in Washington and the Washington way proved successful. The early years of a child’s life are the most important. It is our responsibility to embrace, support, and nurture that understanding.”

The funding will be received over four years. According to Gregoire’s office, the money will be spent on such things as:

-Expanding the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS), the state’s kindergarten readiness assessment, to include all incoming kindergarteners by school year 2014-15.

-Enlarging the state’s quality rating and improvement system which among other things provides information on the quality of programs to families.

-Enhancing the state’s professional development system by offering awards and incentives to those who work with and care for young children.

You can find the state’s grant application here.

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