(The Center Square) – The Washington State Department of Commerce has opened funding for the Early Learning Facilities Program in the form of $47 million in grants.

The program is in support of “Washington’s commitment of developing additional high quality early learning opportunities for children from low-income households.” The funding is meant for Early Childhood Education and Assistance Programs and Working Connections Child Care programs, both programs under the purview of Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Family.

The aim of the funds is to help care providers “expand, remodel, purchase, or construct early learning facilities and classrooms necessary to support early learning opportunities for children from low-income households,” according to Commerce's website for the project.

The Early Learning Facilities program funding comes in four parts;

Competitive grants to eligible organizationsCompetitive grants to K-12 school districtsDirect appropriations from the LegislatureA grant and loan program operated by Washington Community Reinvestment Association, Enterprise Community Partners, and Craft3.

The funds are meant for reimbursement of capital projects, not ongoing or recurring expenses.

“Capital costs may include acquisition, design, engineering, third-party construction management, and construction and capitalized equipment costs associated with building early learning facilities. If funding is provided for the acquisition of a building or land,” according to the news release, and any funding must result in an increase in “early learning opportunities for children from low-income households.”

The funding will be split into two tranches, $42 million in Eligible Organizations Expansion Grants in the fall of 2023, and $5 million in Minor Renovation Non-Expansion Grants in the winter of 2023.

Funding is open to K-12 schools, districts, nonprofits, tribes, public entities, as well as for-profit businesses.

Grants applications opened Aug. 1 and close Oct. 16. Program guidelines and additional deadlines are available on the Department of Commerce website.

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