Illinois is among five states being awarded a share of $133 million in federal grants for early childhood learning. Illinois along with Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin will each get between $20 million and $34 million in four-year grants. It's part of President Barack Obama's Race to the Top program, funded by the Education and Health and Human Services Departments. The departments announced the awards today. The five states were runners-up last year when $500 million was awarded to nine other states in the program's first year. They were invited to reapply this year, although less money was at stake. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the grants will help thousands of children get a stronger start on the skills they need to succeed in school.
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