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.
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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 may have two opportunities to help improve early education and care settings in Michigan, including child care and preschool programs.

Michigan is committed to increasing access to high quality early learning and development programs. This commitment includes ensuring that Great Start to Quality, the system used to rate the quality of early learning programs and providers, is accurately reflecting program quality, and ensuring that workforce data is readily available for making decisions about how to support the early education and care workforce. That is why the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), Office of Great Start is conducting two studies to learn more about the early education and care system in Michigan.

Validation Study

The first study, which first began in 2016, is a validation study of Great Start to Quality. With this study, Michigan hopes to gain insight into the questions:

  • How effectively do the GSQ rating levels differentiate the quality level of programs, and
  • What are the specific local, regional, and state conditions that promote the implementation of GSQ and the increase of higher quality early childhood programs throughout the state and ensure children with high needs receive high-quality care?

The first wave of data collection in 2016 provided information that prompted a revised proposal for a validation study. Michigan is now ready to continue the validation study and has awarded a contract to HighScope Educational Research Foundation to complete the work. The next wave of data collection will begin this August and wrap up in November. The Center for Early Education Research and Evaluation at HighScope, also known as CEERE, will contact a random selection of programs and providers to participate.  Programs and providers that do participate will receive a gift card for their time.

Workforce Study

The second study is an early education and care Workforce Study. Currently, Michigan has no mechanism to collect data on the early education and care workforce. This study will allow the state to learn information about the early education and care workforce including, the number of people employed, their qualifications, and longevity in the field. The study will also help Michigan determine how to best support the early education and care field.

The MDE has awarded a contract to The Butler Institute for Families at the University of Denver to complete the workforce study. Starting in June, The Butler Institute for Families at the University of Denver will invite providers to complete an online or paper survey.  The first 175 providers to complete the survey will receive a gift card.  Data collection will start in July and run through December 2018.

The MDE needs your help to improve the early childcare system by providing your knowledge and experiences in one or both of these studies. If you are contacted, please consider taking part in the studies. Your participation can make a real difference for young children in Michigan.

These research studies are 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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