Obama Administration Releases Final Application for 2013 Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge

Students with Hands RaisedToday, August 28, 2013, the Obama Administration released the final application for the second Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) competition, which will provide $280 million in State-level competitive grants to improve early learning and development programs.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) conducted the first competition under the RTT–ELC program in FY 2011 and awarded grants to nine States. In FY 2012, the five next highest-rated applicants on the slate of high-scoring applications from the FY 2011 competition were funded at up to 50 percent of the funds each requested in their FY 2011 applications. In FY2012, supplemental funding was made available to 6 states bringing them up to 75 percent of the funds requested.

For this second competition we propose to maintain the overall purpose and structure of the FY 2011 RTT–ELC competition. The priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria in this notice are in large part identical to those in the FY 2011 notice inviting applications.

Secretart Sebelius reading to children"Our goal is to expand high-quality early learning opportunities so every child in America can enter school ready to learn and succeed," said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. "In addition to higher test scores and graduation rates, the long-term results will be stronger families, safer communities and a more competitive economy."


This RTT-ELC competition will continue to focus on five key areas of reform -

  • Establishing Successful State Systems by building on the State's existing strengths, ambitiously moving forward the State's early learning and development agenda, and carefully coordinating programs across agencies to ensure consistency and sustainability beyond the grant;
  • Defining High-Quality, Accountable Programs by creating a common tiered quality rating and improvement system that is used across the State to evaluate and improve program performance and to inform families about program quality;
  • Promoting Early Learning and Development Outcomes for Children to develop common standards within the State and assessments that measure child outcomes, address behavioral and health needs, as well as inform, engage and support families;
  • Supporting A Great Early Childhood Education Workforce by providing professional development, career advancement opportunities, appropriate compensation, and a common set of standards for workforce knowledge and competencies; and
  • Measuring Outcomes and Progress so that data can be used to inform early learning instruction and services and to assess whether children are entering kindergarten ready to succeed in elementary school.


In addition to some language changes, some amended lists, and a request for data on participation of children to be disaggregated by race and ethnicity, we have added a new Priority to allow States to describe strategies for addressing the unique needs of rural populations in their States.

Grant awards will range from 37.5 million up to $75 million, depending on State population and proposed plans. Applications are due on October 16 and the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services will announce winners in December.

To view the application and learn more about the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, visit Department Health and Human Services or Department of Education.

Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Final Priorities

Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Final Application Notice