The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation administers the Project Pathfinders scholarship to early childhood professionals in preschool and child care settings. Recipients can use the scholarship toward community college coursework and credentials, and they must set a specific credentialing goal to be eligible for additional funds to cover the costs of books and fees. Priority is given to applicants working with at-risk children (e.g., those eligible for child care subsidies, qualifying for free or reduced lunch, or participating in public preschool programs like Head Start or Virginia Preschool Initiative). Pathfinder awards are applied to a recipient’s account after other financial aid and grants (such as Pell grants) have been applied. Funds for the program first became available in the 2019–20 biennial budget enacted by Governor Ralph Northam and the 2018 General Assembly.
Virginia Early Childhood Education. (n.d.). Project Pathfinders.
Virginia Early Childhood Education. (n.d.). Project Pathfinders: Overview of Scholarship Opportunity for the Early Education Workforce.
Virginia Early Childhood Education. (n.d.). Project Pathfinders Archive.
Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:
Learn More about ELS@H Findings
The early education workforce is the foundation upon which all daily work and any expansion and quality improvement efforts rest. Research suggests that states and cities should invest in the workforce across all early education setting types, focusing on enhancing educators’ professional learning,Professional learning: Learning and support activities (e.g., coaching) that help develop educators’ competencies and skills. compensation, and workplace conditions.
Findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) show:
- Early educators play a critical role in supporting the well-being of young children and families across setting types.
- Yet their pay, benefits, and other professional supports are often inadequate in light of the job demands and their cost of living.