August 29, 2016
JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) today for additional Early Learning Collaboratives (ELCs), which will expand the number of publicly funded pre-K classrooms throughout the state.
The Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2013 established the ELC program, which provides funding to local communities to establish, expand, support and facilitate the successful implementation of quality early childhood education and development services.
The ELC expansion is made possible by a $1 million increase in state funds for the program, which brings the total appropriation to $4 million for fiscal year 2017.
Currently, there are 10 ELCs serving approximately 1,700 students statewide. The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) recognized Mississippi’s ELCs in its 2015 State of Preschool yearbook for meeting all 10 quality standards for early childhood education, putting Mississippi among the top states in the nation that meet all 10 benchmarks.
“High-quality early childhood education programs are one of the most effective ways to give children a strong start to school and life,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “I am pleased our state leaders have dedicated additional resources to our state’s youngest students.”
ELCs must include a lead partner, which can be a public school or other nonprofit group with the expertise and capacity to manage an ELC’s pre-K program. Funds will be competitively awarded based on evidence of existing strong local collaboration, capacity, commitment, need, ability to demonstrate enhanced outcomes for participating children, and availability of funds.
A statewide assessment of kindergarten readiness among students in the state’s ELCs in spring 2016 showed that all ELCs achieved the target score on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment that indicates students are prepared for kindergarten. At the student-level, 71.4 percent met the target readiness score, which is an increase from 59 percent in 2015.
The MDE will hold an informational meeting for prospective applicants from 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 6 at the MDE Central High School Building, 359 N. West St. in Jackson. Applicants may register for the meeting at the GoSignMeUp link on the MDE homepage.
The deadline to submit proposals is Sept. 26. Award notifications will be issued on Nov. 10.
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications
Jean Cook, APR