Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

The start of a new year marks the start of implementing the Massachusetts Early Learning Plan outlined in the commonwealth’s successful application for the federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge. Massachusetts, one of nine states to win a grant under the competitive program, was awarded $50 million over four years, the maximum for which it was eligible.

We hope you can join us on January 17 at the State House in Boston to celebrate this success and commit to building on the momentum created by the Early Learning Challenge. (RSVP here.)

Meanwhile, a look at the plan’s budget, as detailed in the state’s application, offers a glimpse at how Massachusetts will use the federal grant to continue building a comprehensive statewide system of high-quality early education and care. It consists of 20 projects within the Department of Early Education and Care, plus increasing the capacity of other state departments whose work touches the lives of young children and their families.

As part of its application, 12 Massachusetts departments and agenciesincluding the Executive Office of Education, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Department of Higher Education — signed memoranda of understanding committing them to help implement the Early Learning Challenge (ELC) grant. Also signing MOUs are the Department of Public Health, Department of Mental Health, Department of Housing and Community Development, Office for Refugees and Immigrants, Department of Children and Families, Department of Transitional Assistance, State Advisory Council, Head Start State Collaborative Office, and Children’s Trust Fund.

In addition, the Massachusetts application included 62 letters of support from, among others, Senate President Therese Murray, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education, the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, the Massachusetts Elementary School Principals Association,  Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Catholic Charities, the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Community Colleges, the Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership, individual school districts, advocates (including Strategies for Children/Early Education for All), early education and care providers, and funders.

Not only did the MOUs and letters contribute to the commonwealth’s success in securing an ELC grant but they also indicate the kind of broad-based public and private support needed to ensure that all children in Massachusetts get the strong start they deserve.

Below are some highlights of the Massachusetts Early Learning Plan. For more information, see the full Massachusetts ELC budget.  And check out the new Early Learning Challenge page on our Early Education for All website.