Gov. Bentley Announces Pre-K Program Gets $15 Million in Grants

Governor Robert Bentley on Tuesday announced over 150 new grants that will provide more than 2,700 additional Alabama four-year-olds with access to high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten.

“Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten is a proven program that prepares students for success,” Governor Robert Bentley said. “Only 20 percent of Alabama’s four-year-olds are currently enrolled in the First Class program. Along with the support of legislative funding, we will continue to expand access to this program until every Alabama parent who wants their child to attend has access. I appreciate the staff at the Department of Early Childhood Education for working hard to help organizations receive grants.”

The grants announced by Governor Bentley will expand Alabama’s First Class voluntary pre-k program to more schools, faith-based preschools, child care centers, Head Start locations, and other new and expanding pre-k sites across the state.  Grants were awarded based on several criteria including local needs, local demand and assurances of high quality standards at the new and expanding pre-k sites. Each grantee is required to supplement the grant award with an amount equal to or greater than 25% of the award amount. Remaining grants will be allocated to additional sites based on various needs in the near future.

The additional 155 grants will benefit 41 counties across Alabama and positively impact an additional 2,790 students’ lives now and for years to come. In his Education Trust Fund budget recommendation, Governor Bentley recommended a $20 million increase for the voluntary pre-k program.  The Alabama Legislature approved a $16 million increase for Fiscal Year 17.

First Class is managed by the Alabama Office of School Readiness.  The office is part of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood, which is overseen by Governor Bentley. Last week, Governor Bentley announced that Alabama is one of only two states in the country to meet all 10 quality benchmarks for the last ten years as established by the National Institute for Early Education Research. Alabama’s quality focus is a national model for other states.

“Alabama First Class Pre-K is a high quality program of excellence that provides children the rich learning experiences that significantly impacts school achievement and life success,” Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education Secretary Jeana Ross said. “The First Class Pre-K program model produces real, sustained results in closing the learning gaps for children and fosters the social, emotional and cognitive development of all children. As the access to this high quality program continues to expand, Alabama will determinedly preserve this standard of quality.”

Click here to view a list of grants awarded on Tuesday.

Categories: News, Statewide