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Striving Readers Program Goes Birth to Grade 12

In November, the U.S. Department of Education announced it will offer $250 million for innovative literacy programs through a grant called Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program. Striving Readers has been around for a while; what's new this year is an emphasis on funding programs serving children from birth up to grade 12. A call for applications is likely in January or February, and awards will be made in August.

The money is divided into two pots: formula grants for states to develop literacy teams with the expertise needed to create birth-to-12 literacy programs, and competitive grants for programs themselves. Each state could win up to $30 million from a pool of $178 million in competitive funds. States are expected to make subgrants to school districts and, in the area of early childhood, to districts or nonprofit early-education providers with a track record of effectiveness in early literacy. However, only 15 percent of a state's award can go to the birth-to-pre-K effort.

The department held a public meeting Nov. 19 to discuss how states and districts can develop zero-to-5 expertise, among other topics.

Our friends at Early Ed Watch were able to attend the meeting. Their comprehensive post on Striving Readers notes that there is less money now for literacy than there was a decade ago, and it is being shared across a wider age spectrum. In short, the earliest readers are losing out, and that's counter to the research that says investing in early education pays dividends later.

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