Six States Race to the Top of RTT-ELC

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As K-12 schools around the country prepare to go on winter break, education leaders in Washington D.C. continue to demonstrate their holiday spirit.

 Close on the heels of last week’s Investing in Innovation grant awards, the Department of Education (DoE) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) jointly announced yesterday that six more states have received Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grants. This year’s total of $280 million—the third round of awards since the program began in 2011—will be allocated to Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, New Jersey, and Vermont.

Including these new winners, RTT-ELC has now provided about $1 billion in total to twenty states. The four-year awards aim to help states prepare their youngest citizens to do well in school. Successful applicants submitted plans for programs that will improve access to high quality early learning and development programs for all children, especially those who are at-risk. The focus is on children from birth through age 5 for early development and through age 8 for early success in schools. The majority of states manage the RTT-ELC grants in their education departments with representatives from DoE and HHS collaborating on the implementation of the programs.

What are these grants used for?

Let’s go right to the source for the official description. According to the DoE, sanctioned RTT-ELC programs include (but are not limited to):

  • Establishing culturally, linguistically, and developmentally appropriate early learning and development standards across all the essential domains of school readiness for children from birth to kindergarten entry.
  • Ensuring that quality program standards are applied to all early learning programs in the state.
  • Building and improving state Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement Systems designed to inform parents about the quality of early learning programs and drive improvements to the quality of those programs.
  • Promoting health and family engagement strategies.

So what does this mean for you?

If you have a product or service that aids children between infancy and age 8, selling to these states’ departments of education might be of value to you. Here are some areas of opportunity:

  • Professional development for public day care and pre-school (both teachers and aides): Day care and pre-school are major focuses for each grantee. There are also opportunities for K-3 professional development to ensure ongoing success as students begin their academic careers.
  • Content and assessment to prepare young students for Common Core State Standards: With programs covering pre-school through third grade, there is ample opportunity for sales.
  • Health services and social/emotional well-being services

Keep in mind that the Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System (TQRIS)—developed individually by each state—plays a critical role in RTT-ELC funded projects. To address one of RTT-ELC’s primary priorities, grantees must increase participation by early education programs in the TQRIS, increase the number of programs that receive the highest TQRIS ratings, and increase the number of high-needs children who attend those highly rated programs. TQRIS ratings are public record; by viewing the ratings in each winning state, your sales team can discover areas of need that may help you position your offering as part of the solution to the state’s challenges.

What should you do next?

If you have an offering that meets the tenets of RTT-ELC, you should determine which state would be the best fit for your product or service. Each grantee’s full application is located on the RTT-ELC Awards page along with complete comments from the judges who rated the application. Closely review each winning application to understand the states’ goals and proposed programs—and whether those ideas scored well. You stand the best chance of successfully selling to a grantee if you can align your product to the state’s education leaders’ achieving their goals.

For all things RTT-ELC, you can visit the program homepage on the DoE website.


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