States Get 2nd Chance for Race-to-the-Top Funding

     WASHINGTON (CN) – Also-rans in the 2011 Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge Phase 2 grant awards will get a chance to snag half of the funds they originally requested, according to a new rule adopted by the departments of Education and Health and Human Services.
     The next five highest scoring states that did not receive funding under the 2011 competition — Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin — could share $133 million if they reapply and meet the original program requirements.
     These five states did not receive funding in the 2011 competition, but did receive 75 percent or more of the available points under the competition. Each state’s award would be based on the amount it requested in its 2011 application, according to the rule.
     Among other requirements, each applicant must select key activities from Core Area B in its 2011 application, and may have to adjust the budget and timelines for those activities due to the 50 percent reduction in funding available under Phase 2. A state cannot use Phase 2 funds for activities not included in its 2011 application because the applications were ranked on the basis of those activities.
     Applicants are required to address Core Area B because that section includes all the elements of a comprehensive early learning system, “from standards, to workforce credentials, to parent engagement,” the rule said.
     The agencies are not conducting a new competition for 2012 due to a lack of funding, but maintain that supporting the next tier of high ranking applicants that did not receive funding under the 2011 competition with 2012 funding would build on the momentum from the earlier competition, the action noted. If any of the eligible states do not apply for funds, unawarded funds would be used to support grants made under the 2012 Race to the Top District competition.
     Because the funds are only available until Dec. 31, 2012, the agencies determined the normal congressional review is “impracticable, contrary to the public interest, and waived for good cause.”
     The program aims to improve early learning and development and close the achievement gap for low-income and disadvantaged children. The grant funds must be used to supplement, not supplant, any federal, state, or local funds that would otherwise be available for increasing access to and improving the quality of early learning and development programs.

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