R.I. receives federal grant to expand prekindergarten programs
DEBORAH A. GIST, Rhode Island's commissioner of elementary and secondary education, talks with children last year at the Smith Hill Early Childhood Learning Center in Providence following a news conference announcing grant awards. This week, the state department received a federal $2.3 million grant to expand prekindergarten programs in seven communities.
PROVIDENCE – Seven communities will share a $2.3 million grant from the federal Department of Education to add more prekindergarten programs.
The communities are Central Falls, East Providence, Newport, Pawtucket, Providence, West Warwick and Woonsocket.
As a result of the funding, the R.I. Department of Education will expand the Rhode Island Prekindergarten Program from 17 sites to 60 sites by the 2019-2020 school year.
The state department requested $19 million in funding for the next four fiscal years for the programs. The $2.3 million grant will fund the first year, which is the amount the state had requested.
“I am pleased that Rhode Island is receiving a federal grant to expand early-learning opportunities for our young Rhode Islanders,” Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee said in a statement.
Patrick A. Guida, chairman of the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education, said, “I am particularly pleased that the Preschool Expansion Grant will open new preschool classrooms in our communities of highest need. We will use these funds wisely to advance learning for all.”
Deborah A. Gist, commissioner of elementary and secondary education, said the grant will enable the department to “accelerate” its progress in opening more state-funded prekindergarten programs.
“We will also continue increasing high-quality early-learning opportunities through our many important ongoing initiatives, including our Quality Improvement Grants for early-learning programs and efforts to expand access to full-day kindergarten,” she said.
Working with Rhode Island Kids Count and with support from the Rhode Island Foundation, RIDE submitted the application for the federal Preschool Expansion Grant two months ago.
The Rhode Island Prekindergarten Program, in its sixth year, supports 17 classrooms in eight Rhode Island communities – Central Falls, Cranston, Newport, Pawtucket, Providence, Warwick, West Warwick and Woonsocket.