Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge

The Early Learning Challenge Grant
Minnesota was one of only nine states awarded a federal Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge grant in December 2011. This $45 million award was designed to improve early learning and development opportunities for Minnesota’s young children. The grant addressed a critical need to provide more children with high needs, ages birth to five years, with access to high-quality early care and education programs.

Minnesota implemented an ambitious plan and activities for early learning reform that spanned the 2012-2015 time frame of the grant. Evaluation reports of these grant activities are listed below.

The grant plan focused on five main areas essential to early education and child care in Minnesota:

  • Increasing early childhood program quality and accountability.
  • Building a skilled early childhood workforce.
  • Increasing access to quality early childhood programs for children with high needs.
  • Measuring outcomes and progress.
  • Aligning state infrastructure around these goals.

Our first efforts are focused on four high-need communities (known as the Transformation Zones): White Earth Reservation, Itasca County, St. Paul’s Promise Neighborhood, and Minneapolis’ North Side Achievement Zone. Grant activities in those locations provided and tested early childhood education practices for potential statewide implementation. 

Minnesota’s Early Learning Challenge plan had support from many partners, who actively worked together to achieve better results for Minnesota’s children. The plan provided a framework for our collective on-going work on behalf of Minnesota’s youngest children.

View Minnesota's Annual Performance Reports from 2012 through 2016.