Early Childhood Workforce Innovation Grants Aim to Help Sector Rebuild from COVID-19

Six unique partnerships receive funding to pursue efforts toward strengthening Colorado’s early care and learning workforce.

DENVER, April 22, 2021 – Early Milestones Colorado (Early Milestones) is pleased to announce the six partnerships selected to receive funding through Early Childhood Workforce Innovation Grants (Innovation Grants). The one-year grants range from $25,000 to $150,000 and are part of the larger Transforming the Early Childhood Workforce in Colorado Initiative (the Initiative).

Twenty-one partnerships submitted proposals in the Initiative’s fourth year. 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 fourth year, the Initiative has selected projects that emphasize data-informed, equity-focused, and sustainable systems building in the early care and learning sector. The efforts of these Workforce Innovation Grantees are especially needed as the state begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through its Elevate the Workforce project (key levers: compensation, education and career pathways), the Gunnison-Hinsdale Early Childhood Council will scale programs that provide paid sick leave to early childhood teachers employed in licensed care facilities and salary stipends to qualified educators based on their credential level. GHECC will also work to expand early childhood coursework availability at Western Colorado University to increase career options for local educators.

The University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) will continue to lead Designing for a Diverse Workforce: A Place-Based Early Childhood BA Pathway (key lever: education and career pathways), which addresses structural inequalities and barriers to access that disproportionately affect educators of color. In partnership with Denver-area early care and learning programs, CU Denver will expand the competency-aligned bachelor of arts degree for early educators and further cement this innovative pathway for future teachers.

The Pamoja Early Childhood Education Workforce Program (key lever: education and career pathways) will continue their work to build a career pathway for women from Afghanistan, Burma, and Arabic and Swahili-speaking countries. Led by Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains, in partnership with Empowering Communities Globally: For the Care of Children, this program includes multiple layers of supports tailored to refugee and immigrant populations, so that participants will be better prepared to enter and progress within the early care and learning workforce.

Continuing 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 work to create customized pathways to credentials, certificates, two-, and four-year bachelor’s degrees for high school students and working adult paraprofessionals. The P-TEACH Professional Project will also include targeted recruitment of bilingual educators and educators of color with the aim of increasing affordable pathways for diverse early childhood professionals.

Early Childhood Council of Larimer County will conduct a strategic viability assessment to determine whether to pursue a ballot measure to raise dedicated, local public funding toward early childhood provider wages. The Larimer Thrive by Five project (key levers: working environment and compensation) addresses systemic barriers to building a qualified early childhood workforce by engaging stakeholders and potential voters in Larimer County through public opinion polling and testing. A public information campaign, aligned with and informed by the policy work and public opinion results, will elevate the field and highlight the societal benefits of comprehensive and accessible early care and education.

Denver’s Early Childhood Council, the Early Childhood Partnership of Adams County, and Joint Initiatives/Alliance for Kids have partnered to plan and implement a career navigation model (key lever: education and career pathways). Developing an Essential Career Navigation Roadmap for Early Childhood Educators will engage diverse community voices to identify shared guiding principles, recommended practices, and outcomes that support career navigation. The resulting plan will be infused within the context of each community and will identify opportunities for improving policy and investments in career navigation for early childhood educators.

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

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.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Andrew Keating
Sr. Communications Manager
Early Milestones Colorado

Phone: 720.701.0666
Email: akeating@earlymilestones.org