Yesterday, the Obama Administration announced funding for a second round of Early Learning Challenge Fund (ELCF) grants from the U.S. Department’s of Education and Health and Human Services collaborative Race to the Top (RTT) incentive fund. The set aside for the ELCF is $133 million and state applicants who just missed receiving awards in the first round are eligible to apply for up to 50% of the potential award amount in that last round. These applicants include Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin. The remainder of the $550 million in RTT funds will be available for a new district-level competition later this spring.
The Early Learning Challenge Fund ELCF was carved out of the Race to the Top program in the FY2011 appropriations process. It made available $500 million in competitive funds for state grantees to raise the quality of their early childhood systems and align them with their K-12 and higher education systems. On December 16, it was announced that nine of the thirty-seven state applications had been selected, including those submitted by California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Washington.