Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children
Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Newly announced grants from the state of Massachusetts will help 13 cities and towns “develop strategic plans for providing high-quality preschool to more children in their community.”

The grant program — the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative — will invest $500,000 to help communities design “a collaborative, public-private partnership model for providing high-quality preschool that is aligned with Massachusetts’ Preschool Expansion Grant program.”

As Early Education and Care Commissioner Tom Weber explains, the grants help communities build upon their existing programs.

The grant recipients are: Athol, Brockton, Cape Cod, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, New Bedford, North Adams, Pittsfield, Springfield, Somerville, and Worcester. The grant amounts range from $22,000 to $40,000.

The funding targets communities that have “multiple risk factors” that could hinder children’s educational success “such as high rates of poverty and homelessness.”

“We applaud the Department of Early Education and Care for its new initiative supporting preschool planning,” Chris Martes, Strategies for Children’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Local partnerships like these are absolutely essential for delivering on the promise of high-quality preschool.”

The Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative builds on the federal Preschool Expansion Grant that Massachusetts was awarded in 2014. This federal grant invested in high-quality pre-K for 4-year-olds and was awarded to Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, and Springfield.

News of the state’s Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative has been reported by MassLive here and here, as well as by the Lowell Sun and New Bedford’s WBSM radio station.

We hope the state will continue its efforts to expand access to high-quality early education. This legislative session, several bills would have accomplished this. Among these is “An Act Ensuring High-Quality Pre-Kindergarten Education,” filed by Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) and Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett). The bill calls for a multi-year, phased-in, pre-K investment that would start with our Level 5 and 4 school districts, and then expand to Level 3 districts based on need.

For now, though, we’re excited to see how cities and towns use their state grants, and we’ll provide updates on their progress as they make it.