Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge

The Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant applications became available August 23, causing a flurry of activity across the country.  The purpose of RTT-ELC is to increase the quality of early childhood education in order to help close the achievement gap for low-income and disadvantaged children.

The program has several priorities ranked in terms of importance:

Absolute Priority:  Promoting school readiness for children with high needs.  All applicants must fully meet this priority.

Competitive Preference Priorities:  1) Including all early learning and development programs in the tiered quality rating and improvement system; and 2) understanding the status of children’s learning and development at kindergarten entry.  These priorities earn applicants “bonus” points.

Invitational Priorities:  1)  Sustaining program effects in the early elementary grades;  and 2) encouraging private-sector support.  These priorities are note scored, but if an applicant addresses these priorities in its proposal it may use some grant funds for work associated with these priorities.

Grant applications are due October 19, 2011 and the winners will be announced in December.  To download the application and get further information on selection criteria and the application process, please visit http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-earlylearningchallenge/index.html