Apr 9, 2012 -
Congressman Jared Polis’s advocacy for additional early childhood education funding paid off today as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Secretary of Health Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announced that Colorado is one of five states invited to apply for an Early Learning Challenge grant of about $30 million over four years. Two weeks ago the administration decided to dedicate a portion of this year’s Race to the Top appropriation to early learning grants ($133 million) and U.S Department of Education officials cited proactive advocacy from members of Congress, including Polis, as a major factor in the decision to offer these grants.
“Decades of research shows that when children are engaged in quality early learning opportunities it pays dividends in terms of higher achievement and success throughout life, which is why I pressed the Department to offer these grants to states,” said Polis. “Today’s decision will strengthen Colorado’s young children’s academic and developmental opportunities for generations to come. These grants will lead to better educational child care opportunities for toddlers and more and better preschool opportunities, and our state leaders did an outstanding job putting this together.”
Colorado is in line to receive some of the Early Learning Challenge funds because the state ranked third among those not funded when 2011 funds were distributed in January. Race to the Top 2012 appropriations language that approved $550 million in new funding allows awarding this year’s grants to states based on previously submitted applications. The state will use the new funds, which will be half of the amount that the state originally applied for, to improve the professional early childhood workforce, bolster early learning standards and provide quality incentives.
Polis wrote the Department of Education and the White House in January recommending the early learning challenge investment from Race to the Top funds and joined other lawmakers expressing the same in a bipartisan February letter.