RI receives $27M federal preschool development grant


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Rhode Island just received a major boost in funding statewide early learning programs.

Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Tuesday that Rhode Island was one in 20 states to be awarded $27 million in federal funding over the next three years, which will help expand childhood education statewide and improve programs that already exist.

In her proposed $10.2 billion state budget released last week, Raimondo allocated $4.5 million to pay for an additional 750 public pre-kindergarten slots, for a total of 2,170 slots.

“You have before you, a balanced budget that proposed a 50% increase in the number of public Pre-K seats for the upcoming school year,” Raimondo said.

“We are changing the face of what education looks like,” Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green added.

Education officials met Tuesday at the Meeting Street Library to outline Raimondo’s early childhood budget proposals.

Raimondo’s budget proposal also pushes for resources that families can turn to before their baby arrives.

A program already exists called “First Connections” and Raimondo is looking to expand it. She said an investment of $378,000 would allow about 1,200 prenatal women to be involved and more informed.

“Pre-K is important for everyone, but when you have a child that has different needs, when you’re coming out of a situation of poverty, that’s life-changing,” Infante-Green said. “That’s not nice to have, that’s critical to have.”

Raimondo also celebrated the launch of a new campaign “The Rhode Island Way” funded by a previous grant. It aims to show Rhode Islanders what’s out there when it comes to early learning programs and several other programs that could help your child.

“The Governor is investing in Rhode Island’s future and continued economic growth,” President and CEO of Meeting Street School John Kelly said.

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