Today, the Early Educator Investment Collaborative (EEIC) announced it has awarded the University of Colorado Denver School of Education & Human Development $2.33 million for its commitment to transform its early childhood teacher preparation. The university joins five other grantees that have established partnerships between institutions of higher education (IHE), states or Tribal Nations that will bolster early educator preparation programs, bring greater coherence to teacher preparation policy, break down systemic barriers to education for people of color, and increase financial assistance and compensation for students studying to be early educators.
With the funds, CU Denver will facilitate a consortium of IHEs in Colorado that fosters systems to address access to quality degrees, engages in research related to early care and education (ECE) workforce preparation, and influences policy change within and across multiple state agencies specific to teacher credentialing and licensure, credit transfer, credit for prior learning, and compensation.
“In early childhood, state policy reform and higher education innovation rarely intersect,” said Kristie Kauerz, EdD, grant co-principal investigator, and associate clinical professor at CU Denver. “This grant provides an unprecedented opportunity to bring together multiple IHEs, including the entire community college system, to collectively focus on improving early childhood teachers’ access to meaningful, credit-bearing pathways toward B.A. attainment. This is an important legacy of our late dean, Dr. Rebecca Kantor, who had the vision and the passion to re-imagine both the ECE workforce and higher education.”
This grant comes at a profound moment in time for Colorado, with Governor Polis and the state legislature making ECE a top priority. In November 2020, Colorado voters approved Proposition EE, paving the way for a universal preschool program. Well-prepared teachers who bring racial, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity to the field is essential.
“This initiative is perfect timing for Colorado,” said Colorado Governor Jared Polis. “This coordinated statewide effort will support effective ways to expand our skilled early childhood workforce, which is so critical to preparing to implement voter-passed free universal preschool across the state in two years.”
Colorado is home to approximately 399,800 children under age six, almost one-fifth (17.4%) of whom live in families with incomes less than the poverty limit, while 12.5% live in rural areas or in rural centers, and 20.7% live in households that speak a language other than English at home. At the same time, Colorado is in the midst of an early childhood workforce crisis and is in need of an early educator workforce well-poised to meet the diverse needs of Colorado’s children. Based on population growth alone, Colorado is projected to require an additional 4,500 new early childhood teachers to meet the growing needs of Colorado’s families.
“Colorado has the momentum and the leadership to change both state policy and higher education in ways that support equity and that transform the context surrounding lead teacher qualifications and teacher development. With the impressive consortium of IHE and state partners engaged in this grant, Colorado will become a promising example for other states in the country,” said Barbara Seidl, PhD, Associate Dean in the School of Education & Human Development.
About Early Educator Investment Collaborative
Our goal is to help all early educators achieve their full potential as professionals to ensure that each child is prepared for success in school and life. Our vision is a country where there is no opportunity gap among children, where every child makes lasting gains in cognitive, social, and emotional development through their early care and education experience. We are working to link early educator professional competencies with professional compensation and to transform the preparation of early education.