Six states were announced Thursday as winners of a combined $280 million in government grants to improve early learning programs for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.
The winning states in the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge competition were Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Vermont. The winners were announced by the Education and Health and Human Services departments, which jointly administer the program.
This is the third time these early learning grants have been issued. Fourteen other states were previous winners. In total, nearly $1 billion in grants has been distributed.
The winning states must show a willingness to carry out comprehensive improvements to programs focused on children from birth to age 5. Details were expected to be released later Thursday about what the winning states proposed to do with the money.
"This investment is a down payment to support and implement high-quality early learning programs across the country," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement. "There is still a lot more work for us to do."
The Obama administration has pushed to improve the quality and availability of early childhood programs. President Obama has proposed using an increase in cigarette taxes to help fund universal preschool for 4-year-olds. HHS also implemented new rules requiring lower-performing Head Start programs to compete for funding as part of an effort to improve the quality of Head Start programs.