“Expanding access to early childhood education is proven to boost academic achievement in school and improve opportunities later in life – in short, a smart investment with a big return.” Governor Jay Nixon
Children’s participation in pre-kindergarten contributes to success in elementary, secondary and post secondary education which ultimately impacts career opportunities. The Department is providing resources to support the development of new or the expansion of existing high-quality early childhood and pre-kindergarten educational opportunities specifically directed at children of low and moderate income families.
The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) Division of Business and Community Services is accepting proposals for financial assistance to support capital improvement and program start up costs related to Governor Nixon’s “Start Smart Initiative”.
Applicants for funding must be Missouri non-profit organizations. Each non-profit applicant must assemble a team that includes the local government or governments and school district or districts where the project will occur. Examples of non-profits may include local community foundations, local economic development organizations, or local youth organizations. Non-profits may provide the pre-kindergarten services as a part of their operating functions or they may contract with other service providers, including area school districts. The involvement of a Missouri non-profit organization is required under the various funding sources available.
Applicants to CDBG must be from the unit of local government but may be made on behalf of the eligible non-profit. Applicants to NAP may be direct from the eligible non-profit.
PROGRAM BENEFITS/ELIGIBLE USES:
Eligible capital improvement costs may include acquisition, new building construction, rehabilitation of existing properties, and related soft costs associated: appraisal; closing costs; engineering and architectural costs; inspections; and permitting. Program start-up costs may include costs such as curriculum development; equipment related directly to curriculum delivery; and teacher training. Applicants may seek either capital improvement funds or programming funds, or both.
Applications to NAP are limited to $250,000 in 50% tax credits.
There is no limit per applicant for the CDBG program.
The application process includes 2 Steps:
- 1. Step 1 requires interested non-profit organizations to submit a response to the Start Smart Initiative Request for Proposal to the Department of Economic Development at the address listed below.
- 2. The responses to the RFP’s will be evaluated by DED staff and education professionals. DED staff will determine the appropriate fund resource(s) for each successful respondent. Successful respondents will be notified in writing by DED.
- 3. Successful respondents will move on to Step 2.
Quality early childhood education opportunities are not universally available throughout Missouri. To support the Governor’s efforts to make early childhood education available to more Missouri children, the Department is making available $10 million dollars in a combination of grants and contribution tax credits (through the State Community Development Block Grant Program and the Neighborhood Assistance Program). The various funding sources being made available each have specific rules and restrictions governing their use. The Department will evaluate successful proposals to determine the appropriate funding source.
CDBG funds may only be used for capital improvements.
NAP may be used for both capital improvements and start up costs such as curriculum development and teacher training.
Successful respondents may get a recommendation from DED to apply for more than one source of funds.
Recipients of grants and tax credits under the program will be required to submit information to DED using standardized reporting forms at prescribed time periods during the life of the project.
A team from the Department of Economic Development and experts from the field of education will evaluate the Request for Proposals on:
- Need – defined as the availability and capacity of early childhood educational opportunities in the proposed service area;
- Impact – defined as the extent to which the proposal will address the documented population of children in the proposed service area without access to quality early childhood education opportunities;
- Efficiency of Plan– defined as the cost per square foot and the cost per beneficiary;
- Capacity– defined as the non-profit applicant’s history and experience in early childhood education and its relationship with the local school district;
- Sustainability – defined as the strength of the plan for ongoing operation beyond the term of the funding requested;
- Quality – defined as a subjective analysis of the curriculum and educational instruction proposed, as evaluated by professionals with expertise in early childhood education;
- Outcomes – defined as the degree of which measures are proposed to effectively and objectively measure project outcomes;
- Beneficiaries – defined as the cost per beneficiary.
SPECIAL PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS:
Applicants for funding must meet the same eligibility criteria necessary to receive funding from the Missouri Preschool Project. Those criteria may be found on the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) website at http://dese.mo.gov/eel/el/MPP/index.htm. Each applicant shall also adhere to the Early Learning Program Standards adopted by the Missouri State Board of Education in September 2011, which may be found on the DESE website at http://dese.mo.gov/eel/el/documents/eel-el-2013-EarlyLearingProgramStandards.pdf.
Missouri Department of Economic Development
"Start Smart Initiative"
301 West High Street, Room 770
P.O. Box 118