PA wins Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant!

Release Date: December 19, 2013

From Barbara G. Minzenberg, Deputy Secretary, Office of Child Development and Early Learning: 

Dear Colleagues:


This morning Governor Corbett announced that the U.S. Department of Education has awarded Pennsylvania $51.7 million through the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant program. Pennsylvania is one of six states to win grants during this round.


"High-quality early learning programs are known to improve student achievement and prepare students to enter kindergarten," Corbett said. "As a national leader, Pennsylvania offers early education opportunities to our youngest citizens and this investment will help us to further improve and expand our existing quality programs."


The four-year grant will support initiatives that help close the achievement gap and increase the number of children enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and in life.


Initiatives include:

  • Establishing 50 local Early Childhood Education Community Innovation Zones to serve the lowest-performing elementary schools in the state.
  • Improving access for children with high needs to high-quality early learning and development programs.
  • Increasing access and delivery of high-quality professional development for early learning educators.
  • Developing a no-cost universal Kindergarten Entry Inventory for voluntary use by schools to better understand the needs of students entering kindergarten.
  • Operating four Governor's Institutes for nearly 3,000 pre-kindergarten to third-grade educators and practitioners to experience and share strategies and best practices.

Pennsylvania's Race to the Top plan reflects the commitment and achievements of early learning and child-serving organizations, professionals and advocates throughout the commonwealth. I want to thank everyone who provided input as Pennsylvania developed its application and provided letters of support for this plan. Without your support and engagement, Pennsylvania would not be celebrating this amazing win.


More details will follow in the implementation of Pennsylvania's grant in the coming months. I encourage you to pass this news along to colleagues in your local communities.



Barbara G. Minzenberg

Deputy Secretary, Office of Child Development and Early Learning



The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) promotes opportunities for all Pennsylvania children and families by building systems and providing supports that help ensure access to high quality child and family services.


Find more about Quality Early Learning in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Department of Education

Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare

Pennsylvania Keys to Quality