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Early education summit.

Last week, at the White House Summit on Early Education, Secretary Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced more than $226 million in grants to 18 states under the Preschool Development Grants program (fact sheet). These grants support states to: (1) build or enhance their infrastructure to provide high-quality preschool programs and (2) expand high-quality preschool programs in high-need communities. More than 33,000 additional children will be served in high-quality preschool programs in over 200 communities during the first year of the program. (Note: The Secretaries issued a letter to governors announcing the winners, and a number of documents, including applications and abstracts and reviewers' scores and comments for all 36 states that applied, are posted on the Preschool Development Grants web page.)

The grants were part of more than $1 billion in federal and private sector investments in early learning announced by the White House during the summit (fact sheet). Secretary Burwell also announced over $435 million in grants to hundreds of communities in 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands under the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership Grants program (see grantees), and President Obama announced over $330 million in private sector commitments (see pledges). Furthermore, the President announced a public awareness campaign, "Invest in US," in partnership with the First Five Years Fund.

To encourage local leaders to continue expanding early learning in their communities, the White House designed a playbook of strategies being used around the country and pulled together 10 resources to offer technical assistance to these efforts.

The Secretaries also announced other important policy initiatives, such as a statement on suspension and expulsion practices in early learning.

And, Secretary Duncan and Grammy Award-winning artist Shakira, a member of the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics and a strong advocate for early childhood education, took to Twitter to answer questions (recap via Storify).

Additionally, the President's Council of Economic Advisors released "The Economics of Early Childhood Investments," describing the economic returns to investments in childhood development and early education. Some benefits, such as increases in parental earnings and employment, are realized immediately; other benefits, such as greater educational attainment and earnings, are realized later. Research suggests expanding early learning initiatives would provide benefits to society of roughly $8.60 for every $1 spent.

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Publication:ED Review
Date:Dec 19, 2014
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