Early Learning Facilities Grants Clarifications and FAQs


ANTICIPATED VOLUME OF APPLICATIONS:

In Wave 4 of funding we received over $2.2 million in applications from 58 organizations. The majority of applications were excellent and qualified for funding. However, due to the very limited nature of funding we were only able to award $450,000 in grants. Therefore, 46 organizations were deferred to Wave 5, meaning their applications will be part of the Wave 5 pool reviewed. We expect to be able to award around $450,000 in Wave 5 and so we presume that a very large number of strong applications will NOT be funded simply because of the limited funds. In making funding decisions we will focus very heavily on our established priority areas (see below).

MAXIMUM GRANT AWARDS:

Each licensed early learning center in Rhode Island is eligible for up to $20,000 in planning funds and up to $50,000 in capital funds. No center can receive greater than these amounts, regardless of how compelling their projects are or how well they align to priority criteria. Centers may receive more than one award, but, the total dollar amount may not exceed these maximums. For example, if XYZ Center had already received a capital award of $25,000 and a planning grant for $5,000, they could apply for another capital grant of up to $25,000 as well as a planning grant of up to $15,000. However, if XYZ Center had previously received a capital grant for $50,000 and a planning grant for $20,000 they would not be eligible to apply. Please note that organizations operating multiple centers may apply for grants for all centers. If you have any questions regarding eligibility please contact us riccelff@lisc.org or 401.331.0131.

REMINDER OF PRIORITY AREAS:

All applications will be ranked based on a variety of priority criteria. Applicants are encouraged to clearly articulate how they meet the priority criteria in their applications. The following criteria are used to prioritize organizations for funding:

  • Organization serves a high number of “high needs” children.
  • Organization has long-term site control (i.e. building is owned by the organization or there is a long-term lease with very favorable terms).
  • Organization has a clearly demonstrated capacity to manage and carry out a federally funded facility project, including a demonstrated capacity to move the project forward in an efficient, timely and compliant fashion.
  • Organization has committed matching funds to the project.
  • Organization has a clearly demonstrated commitment to programmatic quality.
  • Organization demonstrates strength financially, organizationally and programmatically.
  • Proposed project clearly aligns to the priorities of the early learning facility funding and to the goals of EXCEED.
  • Proposed project is well thought out, prepared to start immediately and concrete plans and estimates are in place.
  • Proposed project is realistic – can be carried out in the time frame and with the resources proposed.
EXPENDITURE OF FUNDS:

100% of funding must be expended by May of 2016. In order to meet this very rigorous time frame, projects must be ready to proceed and organizations must be prepared to manage the projects actively and efficiently.

RULES GOVERNING EXPENDITURE OF FUNDS:

Early Learning Facility Grants are being funded out of the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant. As such, these are considered federal funds and thus are federal facility projects. Federal facility projects have many rigorous requirements that include specific types of procurement processes, detailed record keeping and compliance with Davis Bacon requirements. Before applying, please fully consider your organizational ability to manage this project and be sure you have done a cost-benefit analysis.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
  1. Do I have to have a specific BrightStars rating to be considered for funding?
    A center must be actively engaged in the BrightStars process, including being rated on the 2013 standards as well as showing demonstrated progress through the BrightStars levels in order to be eligible for these grant funds. A center’s application should show that facility issues are being addressed in order to move forward in the quality rating system, utilizing a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) to help prioritize facility needs. If a center is a 1 star, and has been for quite some time, then the application should clearly describe the concrete steps the center is taking to increase program quality and move up within the BrightStars levels. If a center is not able to point to the specific things they have done and are doing to increase quality then the application would have a lower prioritization for funding.
  2. When does the Wave 5 contract expire?
    Unlike the Waves 1, 2, and 3 contracts that are set to expire on December 31st, 2015, Waves 4 and 5 contracts expire on May 31st, 2016. This means that the physical construction project should be completed by the first week in May, 2016 to allow for adequate time to make and process final payments and to close out all paperwork prior to the May 31st deadline. In the grant application you should clearly describe the steps you will take to ensure that the construction project stays on schedule, including describing prior experience you have had managing similar projects.

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