- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

President Obama on Wednesday will announce more than $1 billion in new government and private investments into early childhood education, White House officials said.

The president will make the announcement during a White House summit on early education. The investments include more than $226 million in federal Education Department grants to states to improve and expand their preschool programs.

“Expanding access to high-quality preschool is critically important to ensure the success of our children in school and beyond,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. “The states that have received new Preschool Development Grants will serve as models for expanding preschool to all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families. These states are demonstrating a strong commitment to building and enhancing early learning systems, closing equity gaps and expanding opportunity so that more children in America can fulfill their greatest potential.”

In total, the administration is awarding about $750 million in grants that will benefit more than 63,000 children in 49 states, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Mariana Islands, officials said.

In addition to the Education Department preschool awards, the Department of Health and Human Services will announce up to $500 million in grants under its Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships program.

The federal investments are being made in conjunction with $330 million in investments from the private sector, officials said.

For example, the Walt Disney Co. says it will commit $55 million to provide “high-quality learning apps” and other digital tools to pre-K students across the country.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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