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Mass. snags $15 mil federal early education grant

DEC. 10, 2014.....Massachusetts is among 18 states that will share in $250 million in federal grants to expand pre-school programs, according to the White House.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan plans to announce the grants on Wednesday, with funds being awarded to more than 200 "high-need" communities to help enroll more than 33,000 additional children.

Federal officials received applications for grants from 36 states and Massachusetts was awarded a $15 million "expansion" grant.

President Barack Obama is hosting the White House Summit on Early Childhood Education Wednesday and plans to detail results from his call earlier this year for Americans to help expand access to early education. Federal officials also plan to offer a new "playbook" to help communities build support for early education.

The White House estimates that new federal awards, combined with commitments of $330 million from private and philanthropic groups, will create an investment of more than $1 billion in early education.

The private commitments, according to the White House, include $55 million from The Walt Disney Company; $5 million from the LEGO Foundation; $5 million from PVH Corp.; $25 million from the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation; $20 million from The Kresge Foundation; and $15 million from Susan A. Buffett and Partners

A newly launched initiative, called Invest in US, will connect states interested in expanding early education with ten partners committed to the cause and part of a bipartisan, non-profit First Five Years Fund.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is also announcing 234 preliminary awards spread across 49 states under the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships program. And the White House plans to release three case studies highlighting success stories under the School Improvement Grants program. Regulations proposed by the president under that program aim to make pre-school expansion a "core strategy" for turning around the low-performing elementary schools.

Vice President Joe Biden is set to address the early education summit at 2:45 p.m. Wednesday. Obama plans to speak in the late morning.

The White House estimates that 34 states have increased funding for pre-school programs by more than $1 billion collectively since 2013, with pre-k ballot initiatives passing last month in San Francisco, Seattle and Denver.

Other Northeast states receiving federal grants include Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Early education emerged as a key issue in this year's race for governor, with Democratic nominee Martha Coakley touting her support for significant new investments as distinguishing her from her rivals in the race, which was won by Republican Charlie Baker.


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