Funding opportunities open for early learning programs
Friday, January 31, 2020
The Student Success Act directs as much as 20% of an expected $1 billion a year into early learning programs, and public schools are eligible for some of that money.
The Oregon Department of Education’s Early Learning Division announced Friday four funding opportunities to expand publicly provided education: Preschool Promise, Early Childhood Equity Fund, Oregon Pre-kindergarten and Fiscal Agent. The deadline to apply is April 2.
Research shows early childhood education can help close achievement gaps and its benefits stretch into college. High costs and limited availability put good programs out of reach of many Oregonians though. The act dedicates money toward preparing more students to learn before they enter the K-12 system.
Current early learning grantees are eligible for more funds, and school districts, education service districts and community colleges can tap into the Preschool Promise and Fiscal Agent funding.
The Preschool Promise program provides high-quality programs for children ages 3 and 4 in families living at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, as well as children in underserved populations. A 2019 Children’s Institute report estimated that more than 30,000 children are eligible.
The act increases 2019-21 program funding by $30.8 million, expanding capacity to nearly 4,000 spots. New and existing providers can apply.
Fiscal agents will receive funding to provide business and administrative assistance to Preschool Promise providers.
The act is expected to put $189 million in the Early Learning Account for the current budget cycle. The Early Learning Division is emphasizing support for culturally specific programs with the new money.
“This is an important step forward for our state toward reaching our goals for an equitable early learning system, one that ensures each child has the best start in life, and families are supported,” Early Learning System Director Miriam Calderon said in a news release Friday.
Oregon Pre-kindergarten, which was created in 1987, is modeled after Head Start to expand high-quality programs for families with the highest need. Portland and Salem-Keizer school districts, Clackamas and North Central ESDs, and Mount Hood Community College are among those already involved with Oregon Pre-kindergarten.
The Early Childhood Equity Fund is new, created to pay for culturally specific early learning, early childhood and parent support programs.
Public and private schools, community-based organizations, child care providers, culturally specific organizations and business organizations are encouraged to apply for the new grants.