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Illinois has applied for the chance to win $70 million in federal early childhood education funding.

Gov. Pat Quinn announced Thursday that the state has submitted an application to the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Fund.

The U.S. Department of Education is awarding $500 million to states that win the competition.

Quinn says the funding would pay for professional development resources and coaching opportunities.

Illinois was among nine state finalists from round 2 of the Race to the Top competitive grant process, but didn't win.

Race to the Top distributed nearly $4 billion in federal education money last year.

The new competition is designed to encourage better coordination, clearer learning standards and increased access to early learning programs for low income children.

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