ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Martin O’Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown announced that Maryland has been awarded a $15 million federal grant to expand access to high quality prekindergarten for 4-year olds, Wednesday, Dec. 10.
According to the governor’s office, the state department of education will continue to increase access to prekindergarten for families who, until now, did not meet income eligibility requirements to enroll in the programs, building on the state’s initial expansion this year.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced that 18 states received the awards as part of the new $226 million Preschool Development Grants program. Depending on available funding, the grant may be renewed for up to four years, for a total of $60 million.
“We know that education is a ladder to middle class success which is why we’ve focused on creating opportunity by making record investments in Maryland’s top ranked public schools, while expanding the opportunity for a prekindergarten education to more Maryland families,” O’Malley said. “Today’s award builds on the important work that we’ve started and will help more of our students lead the nation and world in achievement.”
“This award from our federal partners builds on our efforts to expand prekindergarten in Maryland and brings us one step closer to making high quality prekindergarten available to all of Maryland’s children,” Brown said. “By continuing to invest in high-quality prekindergarten programs, we’re helping more of our children climb the ladder of opportunity towards success and continuing to close the achievement gap throughout our state.”
Maryland’s Preschool Development Grant application spans four years and builds on the state’s Prekindergarten Expansion Act of 2014.
Under the expansion, the state is partnering with local providers and school systems across the state to expand high-quality full- and half-day pre-K to another 1,563 children during the 2014-15 school year, according to the governor’s office. After an application process was conducted by the state department of education during the spring, the O’Malley administration announced $4.3 million in grants to 24 providers spanning nearly every part of Maryland.
The federal grant award announced Wednesday will expand access for nearly 3,000 additional students during the 2015-16 school year.
“We are absolutely elated about receiving this award. Expanding access to high-quality preschool is the single most important step we can take to improve the future of our children,” Lillian Lowery, state superintendent of schools, said.