Reading First State Grants

To ensure that every student can read at grade level or above by the end of third grade.

The Reading First program provides assistance to States and districts in establishing reading programs for students in kindergarten through third grade that are based on scientifically based reading research.

First also focuses on teacher development and ensuring that all teachers, including special education teachers, have the tools they need to effectively help their students learn to read.

The program provides assistance to States and districts in preparing teachers to identify specific reading barriers facing their students.
Related Programs

Examples of Funded Projects

Funds support increased professional development to ensure that all teachers have the skills they need to teach reading effectively.

The program also supports the use of screening and diagnostic tools and classroom-based instructional reading assessments to measure how well students are reading and to monitor their progress.

Agency - Department of Education

The Department of Education ensures equal access to education and promotes educational excellence through coordination, management and accountability in Federal education programs. The Department works to supplement and complement educational efforts on all levels, encouraging increased involvement by the public, parents and students.

Program Accomplishments

Grants support Reading First programs in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Bureau of Indian Education schools, and the outlying areas.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Each State educational agency (SEA) receiving a grant shall use the funds to establish reading programs that are based on scientifically based reading research.

This program is subject to non-supplanting requirements and grantees must use a restricted indirect cost rate that is referenced under 34 CFR 76-564-76.569.

For assistance call the Office of the Chief Financial Officer/Indirect Cost Group at 202-708-7770.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

State Education Agencies from the 50 States, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, the DOI Bureau of Indian Education, the U.S.

Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Kindergarten through third-grade students, their teachers, and their parents are benefit from this program.



Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

This program is eligible for coverage under E.O.

12372,"Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." An applicant should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or her State for more information on the process the State requires to be followed in applying for assistance, if the State has selected the program for review.

Application Procedures

In their Reading First State grant applications, States describe their plans to provide competitive subgrants to targeted schools and districts and to use significant State leadership funds in order to improve reading instruction and student achievement. Applications must be prepared and submitted in accordance with the notice published in the Federal Register. By the due date, eligible applicants must submit to the Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, a complete application that addresses the purposes of the program and includes all required assurances and signatures. Required assurances and certifications include: Assurances for Non-Construction Programs (SF-422B); Certification regarding Lobbying, Debarment; Suspension and Other Responsibility Matter, and Drug-Free Workplace Requirements (ED Form 80- 0013); Disclosure of Lobbying Activities (SF LLL) (if applicable); Response to Notice to All Applicants (Section 427, GEPA), and Section 9306 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Other General Assurances). Applications should also include a Cover Page (SF-424); the required Budget Form (ED Form 524); an itemized budget and other budget information; proof of eligibility; a project abstract; and a program narrative that includes responses to selection criteria. Applicants are encouraged to submit (1) one original and (2) copies of their application.

Award Procedures

Grant applications are reviewed by outside, expert panels. The expert panels recommend to the Secretary of Education those applications that meet the standards of the review criteria. Based on the panels' recommendations, the Department makes the grant awards. The Department of Education will notifies successful applicants of their awards. Contact the Program Office for more information.


Deadlines are published in the Federal Register.


Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended, Title I, Part B, Subpart 1.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time





Continuation funding depends upon future program appropriations and demonstrated substantial progress toward meeting the grant's goals and objectives.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

The Department awards grants through a formula based on the State's share of children aged 5-17 whose families have incomes below the poverty line, after first reserving 1/2 of 1 percent for the Outlying Areas and 1/2 of 1 percent for Bureau of Indian Education schools.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

A Reading First grant to a State educational agency is awarded for up to 6 years, subject to sufficient appropriations and submission and review of progress reports.

Post Assistance Requirements


Grantees must submit performance reports annually.

The program office establishes a due date.

Final performance reports must be submitted within 90 days after the end of the grant award period.


In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised June 27, 2003), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Nonprofit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expand financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133.


Records must be maintained for 3 years after the fiscal year in which the expenditure was made by the grantee, or until the grantee is notified of the completion of the Federal fiscal audit. In all cases of audit questions, records must be maintained until resolution has occurred.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Grants) FY 07 $1,029,234,000; FY 08 est $393,012,000; and FY 09 est $1,000,000,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

For FY 2008, the estimated range of awards to SEAs is $935,641 to $48,953,409 with an average award of $7,197,242.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR), Parts 76, 77, 79, 80, 82, 85, 97, 98, 99.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office


Headquarters Office

Reading First Program, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20202-6100. Contact: Joseph Conaty. E-mail: Telephone: (202) 401-0113.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Selection criteria are contained in the program guidelines. Contact the Program Office for more information.

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