The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides $4.35B for the Race to the Top (RTT) competive grant program, expendable over four years. $350M of the RTT funds will be set aside via a separate RFP for rigorous assessments to support the new common academic standards being developed by states. Applications must be signed by the Governor, the Chief State School Officer and the President of the State Education Board. RTT grants are to support work in 4 core areas:
President Obama's proposed budget for FY11 calls for an additional $1.35B to expand the RTT grant program and may broaden eligible applicant requirements to include school districts. See the Department of Education’s Executive Summary and a list of Frequently Asked Questions for more on the RTT funds.
The U.S. Department of Education will administer the RTT grant competition in two phases. (See ‘About the Award’ section of this page for more details). Phase I of the RTT competition kicked off on January 19, 2010 with proposals from 40 states and the District of Columbia. See the Department's news release (published January 19, 2010) and an overview of the states’ application narratives, reviewers' comments and scores. Among these entries, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan selected 16 state finalists for special consideration for grant awards. The finalists were: Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Tennessee. See the Department's March 4, 2010 announcement of the Phase I finalists. Finally, on March 29, 2010, Secretary Duncan revealed the two winners for the Phase I grant awards: Delaware ($1 million) and Tennessee ($500 million). The Department plans to disburse the remaining $3.4B of RTT funds in Phase II.
The Department has said that states that use recovery funds for reform strategies, including extended or afterschool programs, will be well positioned to win grants. For an overview on ARRA Strategic Framework see this Department of Education PowerPoint presentation from December 2009. It details the major ARRA education reform programs and their relationships to each other, including Race to the Top.
Guidance for the Race to the Top funds specifically mentions afterschool as an allowable strategy to be included in RTT grants:
The Afterschool Alliance will track and assess RTT state applications that have included an afterschool component in proposals to increase student achievement and turn around struggling schools. We are posting highlights of afterschool opportunities in the state proposals on the Afterschool Snack blog and Afterschool and Economic Recovery wiki so check often for updates. See our blog post: "A First Look - Race to the Top Proposals that Include Afterschool"
During the public comment period for the the Afterschool Alliance submitted comments on Race to the Top strongly commending the Department for recognizing the need for a comprehensive approach to education that includes expanded learning, afterschool and summer opportunities, community partnerships and cross-sector collaboration. Advocates for afterschool programs that wished to emphasize the importance of expanded learning opportunities within the broader education reform process were able to submit their own comments to the department through August 28, 2009. Advocates had this template for submitting comments available.
About the Award Process
Awards will be made in two phases:
Note that states that apply in Phase I but are not awarded grants may reapply in Phase II. Phase I winners may not apply for additional funding in Phase II.
States that receive a RTT Fund grant must allocate at least 50% to serve Title I LEAs, including charter schools. To be eligible, states must have approved plans for State Fiscal Stabilization Funds and have no barriers to linking data on student achievement or student growth to teachers and principals for the purpose of teacher and principal evaluation.
Race to the Top Assessment Program
The U.S. Department of Education is inviting public comment and review of its proposed priorities for the $350M Race to the Top Assessment Program, which will support the new common academic standards being developed by states. See the Department’s Notice on the initiative.
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