Program Office: Office of Early Learning
CFDA Number: 84.359A; 84.359B
Program Type: Discretionary/Competitive Grants
The program supports the development of early childhood centers of excellence that focus on all areas of development, especially on the early language, cognitive, and pre-reading skills that prepare children for continued school success and that serve primarily children from low-income families.
TYPES OF PROJECTS
Grants are designed to help early childhood centers improve their programs, by creating centers of excellence that provide preschool-age children with language and cognitive skills, and an early reading foundation. Funds must be used to:
- Enhance children's language, cognitive, and early reading skills through professional development for teachers;
- Provide early language and reading development and instructional materials as developed from scientifically based reading research;
- Provide preschool-age children with cognitive learning opportunities in high quality language and literature-rich environments;
- Use screening assessments to effectively identify preschool children who may be at risk for reading failure; and
- Improve existing early childhood programs by integrating scientifically based reading research into all aspects of the program (including instructional materials, teaching strategies, curricula, parent engagement, and professional development).
Early Reading First, part of the President's "Good Start, Grow Smart" initiative, is designed to transform existing early education programs into centers of excellence that provide high-quality, early education to young children, especially those from low-income families. The overall purpose of the Early Reading First Program is to prepare young children to enter kindergarten with the necessary language, cognitive, and early reading skills to prevent reading difficulties and ensure school success.
- The mission of Early Reading First is to ensure that all children enter kindergarten with the necessary language, cognitive, and early reading skills for continued success in school.
Early Reading First in a Nutshell
- On January 8, 2002, the President signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which added two important new reading programs to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Reading First and Early Reading First. Early Reading First was created to address the growing concern that many of our nation's children begin kindergarten without the necessary foundation to fully benefit from formal school instruction.
- Early Reading First is a bold initiative to create early childhood centers of excellence that prepare young children to enter kindergarten with the necessary language, cognitive, and early reading skills for learning success.
- Early Reading First is a nationwide effort providing funds to local education agencies and public or private organizations that serve children from low-income families.
- Based on the understanding that literacy is a learned skill, not a biological awakening, the initiative promotes coherent, skill-based instruction in the years before kindergarten.
- Federal funds are awarded competitively to local programs that show they will enhance young children's language and cognitive development by providing high-quality instruction and ongoing professional development based on scientifically based research.
Early Reading First Program Goals
- To support local efforts to enhance the early language, literacy, and prereading development of preschool-age children, particularly those from low-income families, through strategies and professional development that are based on scientifically based reading research
- To provide preschool-age children with cognitive learning opportunities in high-quality language and literature-rich environments so that the children can attain the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary for optimal reading development in kindergarten and beyond
- To demonstrate language and literacy activities based on scientifically based reading research that support the age-appropriate development of
- Oral language (vocabulary, expressive language, listening comprehension)
- Phonological awareness (rhyming, blending, segmenting)
- Print awareness
- Alphabetic knowledge
- To use screening assessments to effectively identify preschool-age children who may be at risk for reading failure