The North Dakota Department of Human Services is announcing the Best in Class grant, which is a competitive grant award established by the 2021 67th Legislative Assembly and codified in NDCC 50-11.1 to serve North Dakota children and families the year before they enter kindergarten.

The Best in Class program builds on program characteristics that drive results - high quality, supported interactions between adults and children based on developmentally appropriate experiences.

Twenty-plus years of research from programs across the country clearly indicates that the positive gains that come from having access to quality early childhood experiences can have a long-lasting effect.

North Dakota's Best in Class program represents a targeted state investment in programs that have committed to delivering the highest quality experiences to the children and families they serve, and whose actions can demonstrate the return on investment that is possible with intentional, research-supported investments in early childhood. The work done in these programs will be monitored, evaluated, and supported to help ensure that the investment we make has an impact.

Programs Eligible to Apply

North Dakota early childhood programs that have been operating for more than one year, participate in quality improvement, and serve children who have reached age four before Aug. 1, 2022, are eligible to apply.

This includes:

  • Programs that are operated by educational facilities, public or private that are committed to completing the Four-Year-Old Program approval prior to the 2022-2023 grant year.
  • Federally funded Head Start programs. If not also licensed by NDDHS, program must have completed the Four-Year-Old Program Approval (SFN 1304). (To view, download an Adobe Acrobat Reader DC.)
  • Licensed child care settings (center or group), inclusive of those operated in connection with a church, business, or organization, that are in good licensing standing and participating in Bright & Early of ND with a current rating of Step 3 or 4, as well as any NAEYC or NAFCC accredited licensed child care programs participating in Bright & Early ND are eligible with a current rating of Step 2 or higher.

Application Information

  • May 9, 2022 - Best in Class Grant Application is available. Please review the Best in Class Program Description first before applying. (See more details below.)
  • May 23, 2022 - Applications due by 5 p.m. CT to DHS. (Submit via email to
  • Week of May 9, 2022 - Announcement of programs selected to participate in the 2022-2023 Best in Class Cohort No. 2 and programs from Cohort No. 1 that have reapplied and been re-approved.
  • May 18, 2022 - (Recording) 2022-2023 Best in Class Cohort No. 2 Informational Meeting
  • May 31, 2022 - DHS will announce grant recipients for the second round of the 2022-2023 Best in Class Cohort No. 2

More Best in Class Grant Details

Program Documents