Governor Cuomo Announces $5 Million For Expanded Pre-Kindergarten In High-Need School Districts

Grants Will Support High-Need School Districts Including Those Without a Current Pre-Kindergarten Program.

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.

Photo by: Pat Arnow, licensed under CC-BY ASA 2.0 Generic.

Albany, NY - June 14, 2017 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $5 million in funding is available to establish pre-kindergarten programs for three or four-year-old students at high-need school districts across New York. A preference in funding will be provided to high-need school districts that do not currently have a State funded pre-kindergarten program.
 
"Every child deserves access to a quality education and this funding will help level the playing field for students in underserved districts and put them on the path for academic success and future prosperity," Governor Cuomo said. "Expanding access to Pre-K will help expand opportunities for students to thrive and will help build a stronger New York for all."
 
"Early learning puts children on a path to greater academic achievement and career opportunity," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who made today's announcement during remarks at the Early Care & Learning Council's annual luncheon. "At every level we are making historic investments in education because of its direct connection to success in later life, and this $5 million increase for pre-kindergarten students in high-need districts upholds that commitment."
 
Since 2011, Governor Cuomo has more than doubled the state's commitment to early childhood education to improve the academic future of young people across New York. In 2013, Governor Cuomo created the state’s first full-day pre-kindergarten seats, and in 2015, New York expanded pre-kindergarten to serve three-year-olds for the first time. New York's commitment to pre-kindergarten is now over $800 million annually, serving 120,000 three and four-year-old students each year and universal pre-kindergarten is free for families.
 
This additional $5 million will ensure New York continues to support its youngest students by supporting the expansion of pre-kindergarten into high-need districts, including those where there are currently no pre-kindergarten seats.
 
The Request for Proposals is available here and applications will be accepted until August 9, 2017.
 
State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said, "Research shows that as much as half of the achievement gap is already established before students enter the first grade. Quality pre-kindergarten programs are credited with producing significant increases in student performance in math and reading by the second grade. That's why investing in high-quality, full-day pre-kindergarten programs is so critical. These programs can have a positive long-term impact on children's lives, narrow the achievement gap between poor and affluent youth, and provide benefits to children and taxpayers that outweigh their cost."
 
Chairman of the Senate Education Committee Carl L. Marcellino said, "New York State has prioritized our investment into quality preschool education. We know that our youngest students who develop their learning skills prior to kindergarten find more success and achievement down the road. The funds allocated today will have a far reaching impact for years to come."
 
Governor Cuomo first announced the initiative in January as part of his budget proposal and it was enacted in the FY 2018 Budget. Funding for districts will be renewed annually, provided the programs meet all program requirements and adopt quality indicators assessing environment, staff-to-student interaction and student outcomes. The State Education Department, which will administer the grant, expects to announce awards this fall.
 
Early learning can bridge achievement gaps and provide benefits in the earliest stages of youth and throughout adulthood. Studies from the National Institute for Early Education Research show that children who participate in high quality early childhood education programs have higher cognitive test scores from the toddler years to age 21, higher academic achievement in both reading and math, and are more likely to attend a four-year college and be gainfully employed.