Michigan's Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant

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The Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) is a federal initiative that provided competitive state grants to support purposeful efforts to ensure that greater numbers of children with high needs are able to access high quality early learning and development programs, and that these programs are embedded within an integrated state system of programs and supports for young children.
child playing with blocks

In Phase 3 of the grant competition, Michigan was awarded $51.7 million to improve early learning programs. Participating State Agencies responsible for the implementation of grant projects and activities are:

The Lead Agency for the grant continues to be MDE, with the MDE Office of Great Start leading the implementation, management, and cross-partner collaboration efforts of the grant.

In addition, the Early Childhood Investment Corporation (ECIC) and Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children (MiAEYC) are participating partner organizations and have significant responsibility for implementing numerous grant activities.


Recent Project Updates

Providers can help improve early education and care settings in Michigan, including child care and preschool programs, by participating in a validation study of Great Start to Quality, Michigan’s Quality rating and improvement system for early childhood programs. Participation in the study will help Michigan answer important questions about how well Great Start To Quality rating levels are reflecting quality in programs and care including:

  • Are the ratings working as intended, and
  • Are the ratings measuring the “right” things.

The Michigan Department of Education, Office of Great Start has contracted with HighScope Educational Research Foundation to collect data for the validation study. The Center for Early Education Research and Evaluation at HighScope, also known as CEERE, has already begun contacting a random selection of programs and providers to participate. Programs and providers that do participate will receive a gift card for their time.

Validation Study FAQs

  • Will there be child observations?
    No, this study must be completed by December 31, 2018, and there is no time to collect data on child outcomes that would be meaningful.
  • What data is being collected?
    HighScope is collecting environmental observations (-ERS, CLASS), questionnaires about Great Start to Quality and basic information about your program.
  • What will happen after the study is done?
    HighScope will deliver a final report to the Michigan Department of Education, Office of Great Start. The evaluation report will assist the Office of Great Start in discussions about what improvements could be made to Great Start to Quality.
  • How many providers will be involved?
    The target sample is 450 providers by the beginning of November. We currently have 22 center-based programs and about 8 group and family homes who have agreed to participate.

This research study is funded by a grant from the Michigan Department of Education and U.S. Department of Education.


To learn more about the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant visit the US Department of Education Grant site. To learn more about specific projects, please visit the Michigan RTT-ELC Projects Page, visit our grant resource page, view our Frequently Asked Questions, or contact us with questions or comments.

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