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Phase Two of Race to Top Early Learning Challenge Kicks Off

The U.S. Department of Education has released the detailed application for the states that are eligible for funding in round two of the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge. The $133 million sweepstakes aimed at improving the quality of early-childhood education programs is a more modest cousin to the first round of the competition when nine states split a $500 million pot of money.

Five states that scored well in round one, but not high enough to make it to the winner's circle, will be vying for the fresh batch of grants. They are Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Much like the bridesmaid edition of the Race to the Top round three, phase two is not really a competition at all, like in the first go-round when 37 states were all jockeying to win.

The five states will, for the most part, submit the same proposals as they did in the first phase. They can make adjustments, if necessary, to reflect changes they've made to their early-childhood systems since the time of their first application. But because the potential winnings aren't as robust, the states can only apply for up to 50 percent of what they proposed in their original applications, so they will all have big decisions to make about where to scale back.

In the first round of the Early Learning Challenge, the grants were worth from $50 million to $100 million, depending on the details of a state's proposal and its population of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. This time, the maximum amount any of the five states can get varies, with Illinois able to win the most at just under $35 million.

There will also be no peer review process this time, since their applications were already closely examined and scored by judges last fall. For a thorough description of what the five states can expect, read this handy summary written by the Education Counsel that the folks at First Five Years Fund have shared with the masses.

The states have until Oct. 28 to rewrite and file their applications.


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