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a.MKE THE List: Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge & Nomination Papers are in for Recall Race Against Gov. Walker: Today’s Top Stories

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The U.S. Department of Education recently announced that the second round of the “Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge” is open to Wisconsin, along with four other states. Last year Wisconsin missed the cutoff. This challenge gives our state a chance at receiving $133 million to support early childhood education. So essentially, the competition offers funding in exchange for plans to increase access to high-quality education programs to children from low-income families, and to provide more children from birth to age five with the foundation needed to succeed in school and beyond.

A recent report shows that women-owned firms are growing here in Wisconsin. According to the State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, Wisconsin is now ranked 40th in the nation in the number of women-owned businesses. This number has spiked 35.5% since 1997, but it’s still below the national average of 54%. Wisconsin has roughly 119,000 women-owned firms, employing over 154,000 people and generating over $22 billion in revenue.

Mayfair Mall is hosting an interactive “Get Fit, Family Fitness Event” -- families and children of all ages are invited to attend.  The afternoon event will include interactive family sessions, sampling, demonstrations and displays. Mayfair officials say the event will give shoppers and their families a fun, interactive experience at Mayfair where they can participate and learn about healthy lifestyles together. The event will be held at Mayfair’s center court from 1 to 5 on Saturday, April 21st.

Yesterday was the deadline to turn in nomination papers for the recall election against Governor Walker. Democrats Kathleen Falk, Mayor Tom Barrett, Kathleen Vinehout, and Doug La Follette all turned in over 3,000 signatures to get on the ballot. Earlier this week, Falk launched her first candidate ad of the primary contest, and Barrett snagged a key endorsement from U.S. Rep Dave Obey. Wisconsin has an open primary system, which means that all voters – not just democrats – can vote in the May 8th Democratic Primary. The winner of that race will face Walker in the June 5th recall election.

Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, is in Milwaukee and will attend an event this morning at the Washington Park Senior Center. The goal of her visit is to draw attention to the provisions in the health care reform law that benefits people covered by Medicare. Topics include benefits, such as free preventive care & a fifty percent discount on branded drugs for people who reach the coverage gap. The event starts at 9 this morning.

Facebook says it will spend $1 billion to buy the photo sharing software company known as Instagram. Instagram lets people share photos they take with their mobile devices. The app has a variety of popular filters that can make photos look like they’re from the 70’s or a Polaroid camera. Facebook is preparing for an initial public offering of stock that could value it at as much as $1 billion in a few weeks.  Social media analysts say “Facebook after this IPO is going to be in a position to be predatory. They can make sure no one steps in their way and buy anyone who gets in their way.”