JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – On Thursday, the Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) voted to add five new early learning collaboratives (ELC) to the current list of 30 to provide high-quality early childhood education pre-K programs to four-year-old students.

This ELC expansion is made possible by $5.9 million in state funds to be used by June 2025.

The new ELCs are:

  • Biloxi Early Learning Collaborative
  • Hollandale Early Learning Collaborative
  • Jefferson County Early Learning Collaborative
  • Lowndes County Early Learning Collaborative
  • Pass Christian Early Learning Collaborative

The five new ELCs will serve 780 pre-K four-year-olds in nine new classrooms and 30 existing classrooms.

The Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2013 established the ELC program, which provides funding to local communities to establish, expand, support and facilitate the successful implementation of quality pre-K early childhood education and development services.

In 2022, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) recognized Mississippi as one of only five states that met all quality standards for pre-K.

“One of MDE’s top goals is for every child to have access to a high-quality early childhood program, and the expansion of ELCs in the state helps us do that,” said Dr. Kim Benton, interim state superintendent of education. “This continual investment from Mississippi lawmakers supports greater outcomes for students and the state as a whole.”