Early Learning Challenge Technical Assistance

Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge Technical Assistance

ELC TA Program Mission

The Early Learning Challenge Technical Assistance (ELC TA) Program provides and facilitates responsive, timely, and high-quality TA that supports each Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grantee’s successful implementation of its RTT-ELC projects. The ELC TA program is an action-oriented partnership among the RTT-ELC program office and other federal program offices, ELC TA staff, including the State Support Team (SST) experts, and more than forty early learning TA organizations.


The Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge discretionary grant program is designed to support states in building statewide systems that raise the quality of Early Learning and Development Programs and increase access to high quality programs for children with high needs so that all children receive the assistance they need to enter kindergarten ready to succeed. It is jointly administered by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

ELC TA Methods

The ELC TA Program uses four key methods to ensure that RTT-ELC TA is both responsive to the needs of grantees  and complementary of related early learning TA activities:  

  • Leverage a strong, engaged network of more than 47 organizations supporting the development of high-quality early learning systems and practices.
  • Facilitate communication and best practice sharing between grantees, federal agencies, and early learning TA providers.
  • Develop and help coordinate TA plans for RTT-ELC grantees to ensure system improvement.
  • Develop and coordinate comprehensive TA strategies to meet the diverse needs of grantees in addressing the RTT-ELC reform areas.

ELC TA Activities

The ELC TA Program provides technical assistance through the following activities:

  • Needs Assessments and TA Plans – strategic planning and analysis to identify and articulate specific TA needs.
  • Communities of Practice –collaborative working groups, topic-based meetings or conferences to solve complex, and often persistent problems, and improve practice in an area that is important to the participants.
  • Peer Exchange Networks – opportunities for grantees to communicate needs and learn from each other.
  • Best Practice Guides, Toolkits, and Webinars – development of resources to support grantees and non-grantees.
  • Onsite Technical Assistance – direct technical assistance provided to grantees.
  • GRADS360° Public Domain Clearinghouse – one-stop portal which provides access to resources and knowledge to benefit grantees and non-grantees and is accessible by Early Learning Organizations to share related resources.

The ELC TA Team

The ELC TA Team provides TA to the RTT-ELC grantees through a contract funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning and run in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families.  Made up of staff from AEM Corporation, ICF International, and FHI360, the team is composed of:

  • ELC TA Leads – the ELC TA Leads coordinate each of the key aspects of the ELC TA Program – TA Delivery, Collaboration, and Communities of Practice.
  • ELC TA SSTs – the State Support Team (SST) members are early learning experts who serve as key points of contact for each of the 14 ELC grantee states to:
    • Identify needed resources;
    • Develop and implement an individualized TA plan;
    • Coordinate TA activities with other Early Learning TA providers; and
    • Connect grantees with each other to promote learning and collaboration.

To better support the goals of the ELC grantees, the ELC TA Team collaborates with:

  • The ELC TA Consortium, which includes eight ED or HHS Early Learning TA Programs:  the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes Comprehensive Center (CEELO), the Office of Special Education Programs Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA Center), the Child Care State Systems Specialist Network, the Early Head Start National Resource Center, National Center on Child Care Quality Improvement, National Center on Professional Development Systems and Workforce Initiatives (PDW Center), Early Childhood Outcomes Center (ECO), and the Education Data Technical Assistance Program (EDTAP), as well as two private organizations — BUILD and the Alliance for Early Success.
  • The broader network of Early Learning TA Organizations, composed of additional ED and HHS Early Learning TA Programs, as well as private and non-profit organizations that are supporting work specifically related to the RTT-ELC reform areas.

For More Information, contact the ELC TA Team:

Beth Caron, Program Director, AEM Corporation Beth.Caron@elcta.org

Ann Reale, Collaboration Lead, ICF International Ann.Reale@elcta.org

Michele Rovins, Community of Practice Lead, FHI360 Michele.Rovins@elcta.org

Melissa Pollack, Program Support, AEM Corporation Melissa.Pollack@elcta.org