Closing the Gap Grants

Capacity-building grants to increase access to high-quality early learning opportunities

Access to high-quality early learning opportunities is foundational to 

  1. A child’s success in kindergarten and beyond
  2. A family’s ability to achieve self-sufficiency
  3. A community’s economic resiliency

Using the Closing the Gap report, community stakeholders, leaders and early care and education providers can equip themselves with the data needed to make informed and strategic choices to expand access to high-quality child care in their communities. Eligible organizations are invited to submit proposals to close the gap in their communities.

The challenge is great, but the opportunity to build a system of more equitable access for Hoosier children is even greater.

The Issue

Given the myriad factors that contribute to a family’s ability to access early learning opportunities that meet their needs, a comprehensive understanding of the state of access in Indiana has been elusive. Community leaders and early care providers are often left wondering how to approach capacity expansion to address crucial local needs and create sustainable growth.

The Solution

Through the Closing the Gap report, Early Learning Indiana set out to describe the intersections between the various factors contributing to adequate early care and education access and to provide Hoosier communities with a guide for prioritizing their efforts to improve these factors. To jump start these solutions, Early Learning Indiana, with generous support from Lilly Endowment Inc., is supporting grants for organizations to close the gap in their communities.

Closing the Gap Report

Early Learning Indiana has developed a new methodology, the Early Learning Access Index, that attempts to both qualify and quantify early care and education access throughout the state. This method moves away from viewing access as simply a capacity supply and demand equation and layers in the additional components of quality, affordability and choice. These four elements, viewed in context with one another, offer a more robust assessment of Hoosier families’ ability to access early learning opportunities that suit their needs.

Grant Details

Closing the Gap grants are intended to support communities in addressing their specific local gaps in access to high-quality early learning programs. Solutions should consider access, quality, affordability and choice.

Eligible organizations may submit a proposal to increase access.

Closing the Gap Timeline

May 17
May 24
May 24
July 8
August

General FAQs

The Closing the Gap grant awards eligible organizations with funding to address their specific local gaps in access to high-quality early learning programs.

Increased access may be new seats at a current location, new seats at a new location, and/or acquired seats brought under an organizational umbrella that address quality, affordability and/or choice.

Please email natalieb@earlylearningindiana.org with questions.

Applicants must be a tax-exempt nonprofit organization incorporated in the state of Indiana.

Application FAQs

Interested organizations may submit a proposal HERE

Interested organizations are encouraged to participate in the informational webinars.

The Closing the Gap report describes the intersections between the various factors contributing to adequate access to early care and education and provides Hoosier communities with a guide for prioritizing their efforts to improve these factors. Learn more about your community’s Early Learning Access Index here.

Proposals must meet the requirements specified in the RFP, including the submission of a budget. A specific template is not required.

Programs may request:

  • $1,500 per new preschool or pre-K seat created
  • $3,000 per new infant or toddler seat created

Grant funds may be used to cover construction and/or capital improvements related to new or current site expansion, classroom materials, marketing and enrollment supports, staffing for seat acquisition processes, student assessment materials and/or training, operational software and/or training and administrative support.

Early care and education providers who are part of a Closing the Gap grant must maintain or achieve a Paths to QUALITYTM Level 3 or 4 rating during the established grant timeline. Providers must also currently use or begin using a formative assessment with all students in their program within three months of opening new seats; data from student outcomes must be shared with Early Learning Indiana through the end of 2024.

Listed below are formative assessments that meet Early
Learning Indiana’s criteria for this funding opportunity.

  • COR Advantage (birth through Kindergarten)
  • Teaching Strategies GOLD (birth through 3rd grade)
  • Work Sampling System (ages three and older)
  • The Ounce Scale (birth through 40 months only)
  • Adaptive Behavior Assessment System 3rd Edition (birth through 21 years)
  • Assessment, Evaluation, and Programming System (AEPS-3) for Birth to Six Years, 3rd Ed
  • Transdisciplinary Play Based System (birth through 6 years)

All providers who are part of a Closing the Gap project must use their formative assessment with all students in their program. Programs can choose to use multiple formative assessment tools, however, all four developmental domains of Language, Physical, Social/Emotional and Cognitive must be measured. Additional content areas, including Literacy and Mathematics, are encouraged for programs to assess, but are not required.
If your organization uses or plans to use a formative child assessment not listed, please reach out to our grant team at natalieb@earlylearningindiana.org prior to submitting your proposal.

Learn more about what is – and isn’t – a formative assessment in this NAEYC resource.

Communities are encouraged to connect with Indiana’s Child Care Resource and Referral Network to explore supports for increasing high-quality child care opportunities.

Timing FAQs

Interested and eligible organizations should apply by 11:59 p.m. ET on July 8, 2022, to be considered for funding.

Early Learning Indiana will notify successful applicants in August 2022.

Project timelines should be focused and achievable.