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RI Pre-Kindergarten Programs RI Pre-K Logo

The Rhode Island Department of Education is committed to ensuring that all children begin school ready to learn, and are prepared to succeed in school, as life-long learners, and as productive citizens.

Apply to Become a 2020-21 Provider

We are now accepting applications to become a provider. Eligible organizations include licensed childcare programs, Head Start organizations, public schools, and non-public schools that are able to operate an RI Pre-K classroom within the proposed guidelines and Pre-K policies.

Apply to be a RI Pre-K provider

Key dates for the 2020-21 process:

  • February 26, 2020: Request for Proposals Posted
  • March 4, 2020: Questions due by 12:00 p.m.
  • March 9, 2020: Questions and answers posted on the RIDE website for applicant review: 2020-21 RI Pre-K RFP Questions & Answers [PDF].
  • March 10, 2020: Informational Webinar: Interested providers may review the recording of the RI Pre-K Webinar [MP4].
  • April 10, 2020: Extended date for submissions.
    Submit your proposals to RIPre-K@ride.ri.gov using "(Program Name) RI Pre-K RFP" as the subject title by 4:00 p.m. Please do not bring a paper copy to RIDE.
  • April 28, 2020: Tentative announcement of selected programs

Download and review the Request for Proposals for RI Pre-K Programs [PDF] for more information. The RI Pre-K RFP Templates in Word contain editable tables for staff roles and budget information.


Pre-Kindergarten Program Overview

In 2008, the RI General Assembly enacted legislation directing the RI Department of Education to begin planning for an initial pilot prekindergarten program meeting high-quality standards. The resulting design has earned the program a quality rating of 10 out of 10 in the annual National Institute of Early Education Research (NIEER) State of Preschool publication.

In 2009, Rhode Island established a state-funded pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) program. The pilot program initially included 126 four-year-old children and their families. Simultaneous to the pilot launch, Rhode Island began working with the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), a nationally respected early childhood education research organization, to conduct a landmark randomized control research study to evaluate the effects of Rhode Island’s Pre-K pilot program on participating children’s early learning outcomes.

This initial report shares the findings from the NIEER study and evaluation report of the 2009 – 2011 RI Pre-K Demonstration Project, describes the growth of the state pre-K program, and provides details regarding Rhode Island’s commitment to ongoing quality improvement within the state-funded Pre-K program.

teacher and young children in a classroom

Providing access to voluntary, free, high-quality pre-kindergarten programs is a strategy proven to help close the achievement gaps that are noticeable even before children enter school and to provide increased educational opportunities for all students. Research shows that attending high quality early childhood education programs helps children develop important social and cognitive skills and knowledge that prepares them to succeed in school.

There is clear evidence of long-lasting benefits for children who participate in very high quality educationally focused early childhood programs. The benefits to children can also generate substantial government savings, including reduced need for special education services, reduced need for cash assistance and other public benefits as well as reduced rates of incarceration. In fact an analysis by economist Robert Lynch, from the Economic Policy Institute, predicts that:

“A public investment in providing high-quality prekindergarten to all Rhode Island children ages 3 and 4 would start paying for itself by generating cost savings within 9 years. By the year 2050, the ratio of total benefits to total costs would be 8 to 1.”

The Rhode Island Education Aid Foundation Formula approved in 2010 will take a phased-in approach to expanding access to high-quality Pre-K starting with communities that have a high proportion of children eligible for free and reduced price lunch. The phased-in approach will allow our state to ensure that Pre-K expansion creates high-quality learning programs, improves access for the students who need it the most, and assures a smooth transition between early childhood and K-12.

Lottery Application

2019-20 State Pre-K Lottery Application is Closed

The Rhode Island Pre-Kindergarten Program, entering its 11th year, provides free, high-quality Pre-Kindergarten classes to eligible children. RIDE oversees the program. In September 2019, there are 1,420 spaces available for children to participate in the 78 Pre-Kindergarten classes. To be eligible, children must be 4 years old by September 1, and they must be residents of one of the identified communities.

Paper applications are available for families who wish to be added to the waitlist at a Pre-K program within the community in which they reside. Families can complete the paper application and deliver it to the program where they can be added to the enrollment waitlist. The waitlist will be maintained throughout the year as Pre-K seats may become available.

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Frequently Asked Questions

English  –  Spanish

Interest in the 2020-2021 State Pre-K School Year Lottery Application

The Rhode Island Department of Education is collecting a list of families interested in the RI State Pre-K program for the 2020-21 school year. Those interested in receiving information about when the lottery is open for the following school year (anticipated Spring 2020) should add their name to the notification list below:

2020-2021 Pre-K Email Notification Sign Up


2019-20 State Pre-Kindergarten Programs

This year's participating Pre-K programs are:

Central Falls:

  • Central Falls School District, Capt. Hunt Early Learning Center (12 Kendall Street) – 5 classrooms


  • CHILD, Inc. (23 Cady Street) – 2 classrooms


  • Comprehensive Community Action Program (848 Atwood Ave.) – 6 classrooms
  • Cadence Academy (546 Budlong Road) – 2 classrooms
  • Cranston Public Schools Arlington Elementary School (155 Princess Ave.)  - 1 classroom

East Providence:

  • Martin Middle School (111 Brown Street) – 5 classrooms
  • Oldham School (60 Bart Drive) – 3 classrooms
    (Note: Applications for the Martin and Oldham sites are available at the East Providence Administration Offices, 145 Taunton Ave.)
  • East Bay Community Action Program (70 Turner Ave.) – 1 classroom


  • Graniteville School (6 Collins Avenue) – 1 classroom
    (Note: Applications for the Graniteville site are available at Graniteville School until June 17 and at the Johnston Central Office, 10 Memorial Dr., throughout the application period.)


  • East Bay Community Action Program Head Start (8 John Chafee Blvd.) – 2 classrooms

North Providence:

  • Tri-Town Community Action Agency (79 Waterman Avenue) – 1 classroom


  • Pawtucket School Department
    (Note: Applications for the Fallon and Greene sites are available at the Pawtucket Central Office, 286 Main St.)
    • Fallon Memorial School (62 Lincoln Avenue) – 2 classrooms
    • Nathaniel Greene School (235 Smithfield Avenue) – 2 classrooms
  • Ready to Learn Providence @ Heritage Park YMCA Early Learning Center (333 Roosevelt Ave.) – 2 classrooms
  • Children’s Friend and Service (13 Legion Drive) – 1 classroom


  • Genesis Center – RI (620 Potters Ave) – 1 classroom
  • Ready to Learn Providence @ CCRI Liston Campus (1 Hilton St.) – 1 classroom
    (Note: Applications for the CCRI site are available at 945 Westminster St., Providence)
  • Beautiful Beginnings (700 Elmwood Ave.) – 2 classrooms
  • Children’s Friend and Service (350 Point St.) – 3 classrooms
  • Children’s Friend and Service (99 Berkshire St.) – 2 classrooms
  • Children’s Friend and Service (550 Hartford Avenue) – 1 classroom
  • Imagine Preschool (520 Hope Street) – 3 classrooms
  • Meeting Street (1000 Eddy St.) – 3 classrooms
  • Smith Hill Early Childhood Learning Center (25 Danforth St.) – 5 classrooms


  • The Children's Workshop (410 Child Street) – 1 classroom


  • CHILD, Inc. (849 Centerville Rd) – 2 classrooms
  • CHILD, Inc. (160 Draper Ave.) – 3 classrooms

West Warwick:

  • Academy for Little Children (10 James P Murphy Industrial Highway) – 1 classroom
  • CHILD, Inc. (28 Payan St.) – 3 classrooms


  • Connecting for Children and Families (46 Hope St.) – 2 classrooms
  • Woonsocket Head Start Child Development Association
    • Karen Bouchard (204 Warwick St.) – 4 classrooms
    • Cass Park (350 Newland Avenue) – 1 classroom
    • Bourdon Blvd (2 Bourdon Blvd) - 1 classroom
    • Pothier Elementary School (420 Robinson Street) – 2 classrooms
  • YWCA Rhode Island (514 Blackstone Street), 1 Classroom

Quality Standards

Quality Standards

Rhode Island's State Pre-K Programs must meet the highest level of quality as indicated by the CECE Program Standards.  Within the CECE Program Standards, Learning and Development includes curriculum, child assessment, and family engagement. 


From the time children walk into a RI Pre-Kindergarten classroom until the time they leave, children are actively engaged in learning. Intentional teaching means that teachers apply what they know from research and best practice in the field of early childhood and intentionally plan their day to ensure that every child gets the most out of every experience.

Classroom Quality

RI Pre-Kindergarten teachers are committed to continually assessing and refining their teaching practice to be the best that they can be. PreK Program classrooms use a number of tools that provide data to teachers about their classroom practices.

Child Assessment

RI Pre-Kindergarten classroom teachers implement a system of ongoing child assessment which includes observations of children, samples of children’s work, interviews with children, and interviews with parents. This information is entered into a web-based child portfolio using Teaching Strategies GOLD and is used by teachers to inform curriculum planning, to differentiate instruction for individual students and groups of students, and to ensure that children make steady progress toward learning outcomes.

Family Engagement

Family Engagement is a core component of high-quality, early education classrooms. Children do better in school when they experience a preschool curriculum that is culturally relevant and integrates elements of their own life experiences. In addition, when parents and caregivers partner with teachers and support children’s learning at home, we create the conditions that maximize outcomes for children.

Technical Paper on Setting Expectations for Rhode Island's Youngest Children: Developing High-Quality Early Learning and Development Standards [PDF, 238KB]

Quality Continuum

The Rhode Island Department of Education’s Early Childhood Programs are a part of the state’s quality continuum. The Quality Continuum for early childhood education programs begins with the foundation of DCYF licensing or Basic Education Program regulations.  As programs make quality improvements, they move up through the 1-5 BrightStars rating process. The highest bar in the quality continuum for preschool and kindergarten programs is approval under RIDE’s 2013 Comprehensive Early Childhood Education (CECE) Standards for Approval.  

early childhood program quality rating continuum

Federal Pre-K Expansion Grant

Federal Pre-K Expansion Grant

In 2014, along with 34 other states, the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) submitted what is now recognized as a winning application. RIDE will receive $19 million dollars over four years to expand its high quality State Pre-Kindergarten Program (Pre-K). These federal resources, combined with continued state investment, will significantly increase access to this high-quality program. Rhode Island’s plan is elegantly simple. The RI Department of Education (RIDE) will use federal Preschool Expansion Grant dollars to:

  • Expand access to the high quality Rhode Island State Pre-K Program by both accelerating the existing state expansion plan and leveraging the federal dollars to achieve increased access in seven high-need communities that have more than 50% of children enrolled in Free and Reduced Price Lunch: Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, West Warwick, Newport, Central Falls and East Providence 
  • Improve upon the state processes and supports that ensure the quality implementation of the program, including monitoring, technical assistance and the implementation of a rigorous program evaluation. 

Under RIDE’s plan the state will expand access to the high quality Rhode Island State Pre-K Program from 17 classrooms (306 children) in school year 2014-15 to 60 classrooms (1080 children) in school year 2019-20. Over four years, the federal expansion grant plan will enable 1,548 more four-year-olds to be enrolled in new State Pre-K slots than would have been possible without the federal grant.

Visit the Federal Preschool Development Grants Website