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Follow Through Program Bids Sought

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Washington--For the first time in 20 years, the Education Department has opened competition for grants under the recently restructured Follow Through compensatory-education program.

Follow Through is a developmental program designed to serve low-income children in kindergarten through 3rd grade who have completed a full-year preschool program, such as Head Start. It combines remedial education, health care, counseling, food services, and parental involvement in an effort to assure a child's academic success.

"We want to see schools experiment with alternative early-education models," Mary Jane LeTendre, the department's director of compensatory-education programs, said of the new competition.

The program has had only one set of grantees since it began in 1967, although some have dropped out of the program recently due to funding declines, Ms. LeTendre said.

Follow Through's initial 1967 appropriation was $15 million. The appropriation rose to $70 million in the mid-1970's, but has since fallen to $7.5 million for fiscal 1988.

With that amount, the department plans next spring to award 71 grants ranging from $25,000 to $150,000.

The Congress last year approved a totally new competition for the grants, and since then, some new regulations have been drawn up.

In the past, three types of grants were available--direct grants to local education agencies; grants to sponsors, such as universities; and grants for resource centers to disseminate information about effective approaches to early-childhood education for low-income students.

The resource-center category has been dropped from the program, shifting the responsibility for information-sharing to the other two categories. Other changes include restricting local grants to single schools, rather than school districts, and limiting sponsors to five projects each.

Sixty percent of Follow Through participants must have completed a full-year preschool program, and 60 percent must be from low-income families. The deadline for grant applications is Dec. 11. The multi-year grants will run from July 1988 to June 1991. For application information, call James M. Spillane at (202) 732-4694.--rrw

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