Innovation Grants Aim to Improve Early Childhood Workforce Equity and Career Pathways

Five unique partnerships receive funding to pursue ambitious efforts to strengthen Colorado’s workforce.


DENVER, April 30, 2020 – Early Milestones Colorado (Early Milestones) is pleased to announce five partnerships selected to receive funding through Early Childhood Workforce Innovation Grants (Innovation Grants). The one-year Innovation Grants range from $75,000 to $190,000 and are part of the larger Transforming the Early Childhood Workforce in Colorado Initiative (the Initiative).

Nineteen partnerships working across 35 Colorado counties submitted proposals. The lead agencies represented a variety of industries, including local governments, early care and learning, nonprofit organizations, and higher education.

Final grantees were selected through a competitive process that considered each project’s partnerships and innovative approach in tackling Colorado’s workforce challenges.

Funded by the Buell Foundation and Gary Community Investments, the Initiative advances innovative solutions in one or more of the key levers for change: compensation, targeted recruitment, education and career pathways, and working conditions. In its third year, amid infrastructure concerns exposed by the coronavirus pandemic, the Initiative has selected projects that emphasize data-informed and sustainable systems building in the early care and learning sector.

Boomers Leading Change heads the Integrating Older Adults into the Early Childhood Field program (key levers: targeted recruitment and working conditions). This effort will build a pipeline for older adult volunteers skilled in business and strategic planning, information technology, human resources, and other areas to share expertise with under-resourced early care and learning programs in Denver.

The Pamoja Early Childhood Education Workforce Program (key lever: career and education pathways) will build a career pathway for women from Afghanistan and Swahili-speaking countries. Led by Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains, efforts will include multiple layers of supports tailored to refugee and immigrant populations to prepare participants to enter the early care and learning workforce.

Following the success of its Pathways to Teaching (P-TEACH) program (key levers: compensation, targeted recruitment, working conditions, and education and career pathways), St. Vrain Valley Schools will support a customized four-year bachelor’s degree pathway for both high school students and adult paraprofessionals. The P-TEACH Expansion Project will include post-secondary work, formal apprenticeship opportunities, and a year of student-teaching.

The University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) leads Designing for a Diverse Workforce: A Place-Based Early Childhood BA Pathway (key lever: education and career pathways), which will address structural inequalities and barriers to access that disproportionately affect early childhood educators of color. In partnership with Denver-area early care and learning programs, CU Denver will co-design and implement a competency-aligned bachelor of arts degree for early educators.

Valley Settlement will build upon its 2019 Innovation Grant with the Creating Pathways to Early Childhood Training for Rural Latinx Caregivers (key levers: targeted recruitment and education and career pathways) project. This project will continue a Spanish-taught Child Development Associate (CDA) credential for high school students and informal caregivers.

For additional information about the Transforming the Early Childhood Workforce in Colorado Initiative, visit

About the Initiative
The Transforming the Early Childhood Workforce in Colorado Initiative is a public-private partnership led by Early Milestones Colorado that includes Gary Community Investments, Buell Foundation, the Colorado Department of Education, and the Colorado Department of Human Services. Rose Community Foundation serves as fiscal sponsor for the grantmaking effort, and Mathematica Policy Research provides technical assistance and evaluation.About Early Milestones Colorado
Early Milestones Colorado is an independent organization helping to advance innovative solutions that improve policies and practices in early childhood development. Founded in 2015, we work with state and local partners to exchange ideas, share resources, and create lasting, positive change so that every Colorado community can provide an environment where children will flourish.