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New Jersey offers millions for schools to expand free preschool

🚸 NJ offers Pre-K scholarships

🚸 $33 million in federal funding

🚸 Criteria for programs are outlined

New Jersey has begun accepting applications to expand free preschool programs that have already been implemented in several public school districts across the state.

Gov. Phil Murphy and Acting Education Commissioner Kevin Dehmer announced $33 million in additional federal grants Wednesday.

The state Department of Education would accept grant applications online through the NJDOE Homeroom portal from the entire month of May through June 3.

SEE ALSO: Another New Jersey district adds full-day kindergarten

Schools in New Jersey with full-day preschool (Canva, Townsquare Media)

(Canva, Townsquare Media)

Eligible proposals will be prioritized by category in the following order:

🏫 Increase available Pre-K spots by at least 10%, ranked by percentage of spots increased

🏫 Improve preschool facilities by increasing the capacity of existing classrooms or building/renovating toilets.

🏫Expand preschool programs from half-day to full-day

🏫Expand classroom capacity for new preschool programs and guarantee additional seating

If approved, pre-K expansion projects must be completed by early September 2026.

At the end of last year, full-day preschool programs were already in place in more than 260 public school districts in New Jersey.

These New Jersey school districts have full-day preschool

More school districts in New Jersey than ever before have begun offering preschool programs. The following communities offer free, full-day preschool, thanks in part to state funding.

Gallery photo credit: Erin Vogt

The $33 million announced May 1 would be the second round of a total of $120 million in universal preschool expansion grants earmarked from the American Rescue Plan Act Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund.

The first round was announced last spring, after which grants were awarded to qualified regular operating districts.

According to state education officials, these funds have helped create more than 3,500 preschool spots in 27 school districts across the state.

“We are committed to providing universal preschool to as many communities as possible, and an important element of our initiative is providing funding for new and expanded preschool facilities,” Murphy said in a written press release.

“Many communities seeking to establish high-quality preschool programs face the challenge of ensuring adequate facilities to accommodate these programs,” Dehmer said in the same press release.

He continued, “This unique funding for New Jersey school districts helps overcome these barriers and brings us one step closer to achieving our goal of universal preschool for all children.”

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