Thirty-five states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico submitted applications for the $500 million Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services announced today. As we've reported, the federal government will distribute grants of up to $100 million to winning states by the end of this year to improve early learning to the states. Like the original Race to the Top competition, it's unclear how many grants the departments will be awarding, though the Early Education Initiative has some predictions as to which states are "Top Contenders" in the competition.
The states who applied for the Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge funds are:
Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Nine of our 11 "Top Contenders" applied for the grants: Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, New Mexico, North Carolina, Vermont. Louisiana and Tennessee, the other two "Top Contenders," did not apply. Additionally, one state that we predict is unlikely to win a grant – West Virginia – did apply. We should add that our analysis was based only on the data available at the time of our analysis in August. Federal reviewers will be looking at both a state's current capacity and the state's plans to improve its systems. That means that even in states with poor track records on the indicators that the feds want to see, the strength of a state's plans could pull them into the winner's circle.
Our ongoing coverage of the Race to the Top - Early Learning challenge is aggregated for easier reading on our "Race to the Top" page. To see our predictions of which states are poised to do well in the RTT-ELC competition (as well as some useful information on the state of early learning systems in all 50 states), click here. The Early Education Initiative's formal comments on the RTT-ELC competition are here. We'll be back with more analysis on the states' applications as they become public.