Our Work in Pre-K
Early education is a founding policy area for Mississippi First. Mississippi First is proud to have written the Early Learning Collaborative Act, which established state-funded pre-K in Mississippi. Now, we lead the effort to expand the program.
In 2013, passing both the House and the Senate with over 80% of the vote, the pre-K law was the most popular education effort in many years. That year, the legislature appropriated $3 million for the program, the first-ever state investment in pre-K.
Following the passing of the law, in December 2013, the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) selected the first 11 Early Learning Collaboratives (ELCs) from across the state. For almost a decade, Mississippi First has continued to advocate to increase funding in order to maintain quality and grow the program. With each legislative funding increase, the number of impacted communities has grown. During the 2021-2022 school year, 16% of Mississippi four-year-olds (roughly 6,080 children) will have access to an ELC seat.
In 2021, the Mississippi State Legislature doubled its investment in state-funded pre-K to $16M. This is an historic step that ensures educational excellence for Mississippi kids. When we helped pass the original law in 2013, we hoped that within 10 years 25% of Mississippi’s four-year-olds would have access to high-quality, low- or no-cost pre-K. Today, with this major commitment from the legislature, we are almost there!