PROVIDENCE, R.I. As Governor Gina M. Raimondo moves Rhode Island towards universal pre-K, the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) today announced that a Request for Proposals (RFP) is available for qualified providers to increase access in the 2019-2020 school year. Since 2015, Rhode Island has tripled enrollment in the Rhode Island State Pre-Kindergarten Program, with more than 1,000 seats available across 11 cities and towns.
Through this RFP, the state will provide access to an additional 540 children, for a total of 1,620 seats, a 50 percent increase over the current year.
"Every child deserves a great education and a strong start to get them on the right path," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "The research is clear that early education – and high-quality pre-K, in particular – can make a tremendous difference in the life of a child. Every Rhode Island family deserves that opportunity."
If approved by the General Assembly, the second phase of universal pre-K expansion will take place over the next four years, increasing access to high-quality classrooms for 7,000 Rhode Island 4-year-olds by 2024.
"We cannot move the needle on early literacy, or on other measures of academic success, unless we provide these kinds of robust supports for students and families," said Ken Wagner, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. "All children need a strong foundation if we want to position them for success later in school and throughout their life. That foundation includes a robust strategy for kids from birth, and it extends into high-quality early childhood education programs like our state-funded pre-K."
Applicants must provide RIDE with a recruitment plan to ensure outreach focuses on high-need populations, such as low-income families, children with disabilities, and English learners. Applicants must also provide 18 to 20 seats per classroom, participate in the BrightStars quality rating system, and provide developmental screening, as well as have a high-quality early learning curriculum, among other requirements.
Eligible organizations or entities include licensed child care providers, Head Start programs, public schools, and non-public schools able to operate a classroom in Rhode Island communities. The award of grant funds is contingent upon inclusion of the proposed universal pre-K dollars in the FY2020 state budget.
Questions concerning this solicitation may be sent to Zoe McGrath at RIDE at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than noon on March 7. Questions should be sent in a Microsoft Word format, and the RFP should be referenced in the correspondence subject line. Questions received will be posted and answered on the RIDE website as an addendum to this solicitation by March 11.
Final proposals are due and must be delivered by 4:30 p.m. on March 28, and programs will be selected and announced in late April. To read the full RFP, open the Request for Proposals - Rhode Island Universal Pre-K Program link below.