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Five More States Secure Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grants

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Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin will each receive a share of the 2012 Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge $133 million grant fund to improve quality and expand access to early learning programs throughout their states. The five winners join nine existing state grantees who secured first-round funding last year.

"Every child deserves the lifelong advantages of a high-quality early learning program," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "Thanks to the leadership of governors, state officials, and education advocates across the now 14 Early Learning Challenge states, thousands more of our youngest children will receive a stronger start to earning the skills needed to succeed in Kindergarten through college and career."

The Race to Top-Early Learning Challenge program was first launched in 2011 as a program jointly administered by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.

"The Obama administration is raising the bar for quality in early education programs," said Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. "Providing a strong foundation for all children to learn through life is an investment in our nation's economic future."

Through this competition, the Obama Administration called on states to create proposals to improve early learning by coordinating existing programs, evaluating and rating program quality, and increasing access to high-quality programs, particularly for children with high needs.

First year funding attracted 37 applicants and collectively awarded $500 million to nine states: California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington.

With more modest 2012 funding, the second round invited the next five highest-scoring applicants—Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin—to modify their 2011 applications and create plans that could be funded with up to 50 percent of the award amount originally requested.

Today, the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services announced the following awards: Colorado—$29,907,916; Illinois—$34,798,696, New Mexico—$25,000,000, Oregon—$20,508,902; and Wisconsin—$22,700,000.

Grants will be awarded over a 4-year period in accordance with each state's plan.

For more information on the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Fund or to read the 2012 applications, visit