R.I. receives $27M federal grant to support early childhood education

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island has received a substantial federal grant to help with early childhood education in the state.

Gov. Gina M. Raimondo announced Tuesday at an event at Meeting Street that the state two weeks ago received a three-year, $27 million grant to support early childhood development and education. The funding, according to a media release, is part of the Administration for Children and Families’ Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five program.

Raimondo’s grant announcement comes a week after her annual State of the State address in which she’s proposing in her fiscal year 2021 budget to increase the number of public prekindergarten seats in Rhode Island by 50% for the upcoming school year. Of the total grant amount, $3 million will supplement the proposed $4.5 million state investment for more public pre-K, the release states.

Rhode Island was one of 20 states to receive this grant, Raimondo said, which will help “implement programs and build infrastructure.” Raimondo said in a statement that she’s “proud” of Rhode Island being committed to giving the next generation a good start, but more needs to be done.

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“I look forward to working with my colleagues in the General Assembly to expand public pre-K and ensure that every child has the opportunity to learn and grow,” Raimondo said.

Among the other initiatives supported by the grant are funding for family support programs through Rhode Island’s 10 Health Equity Zones in order to help build healthier communities; implementing professional development for early childhood professionals; and enhancing data systems that support early childhood programming.

Raimondo also announced the state will kick off the Rhode Island Way program, a campaign through television, radio and social media to make parents in the Ocean State aware of existing programs for infants and toddlers. Advertisements for the program will begin on Wednesday, according to a tweet from Raimondo. Additional information on the program can be found on the R.I. Children’s Cabinet’s website.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com.

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