Carlow University Receives Single Largest Grant in its History for Early Childhood Program

Contact: Sean McFarland, MA
Public Relations & Communications Manager, Carlow University
Phone: 412-260-6807

Anonymous Benefactor Awards $12 Million Toward Endowment of The Western Pennsylvania Early Childhood Apprenticeship Hub

PITTSBURGH – President Kathy W. Humphrey announced the receipt of the institution’s single largest grant in its history. An anonymous benefactor contributed $12 million to endow the Western Pennsylvania Early Childhood Apprenticeship Hub at Carlow for the benefit of future generations. The Apprenticeship model was designed to address and eliminate barriers to degree completion while advancing the professionalism of early childhood education.

“Through the generosity of this donor and grant award, we have the opportunity to create positive change in early childhood education, diversify the teacher pipeline and make a meaningful impact across the region we serve,” remarked Humphrey.

Why the Apprenticeship Hub is Important

Launched in 2018, The Apprenticeship Hub at Carlow was approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor as the state’s first four-year early childhood apprenticeship program. The Hub provides a supportive degree pathway for underserved or harder-to-reach students and addresses one of the primary obstacles to building a high-quality early childhood education system: a well-trained workforce.

According to Keely Baronak, EdD, Professor and Chair, Education Department and Executive Director, of The Campus Laboratory School, there is great demand in the region for early childhood care and for quality early childhood providers. Baronak noted, “The Apprenticeship Hub will serve as a model for programs across the state.” Susan Polojac, director of The Apprenticeship Hub added, “This model will help to improve childcare workforce retention, increase childcare quality and boost teacher diversity – all of which are key to the future success for Pennsylvania’s children and families.”

The Pennsylvania Child Care Association (PACCA) cites research that shows the benefits for children in high-quality learning environments, including more advanced language skills, fewer behavioral problems, better social skills and doing better in school. PACCA notes that “teachers with bachelor’s degrees and specialized training in child development provide young children with the best preparation to succeed in kindergarten.”

Cara Kassabov, Vice President University Advancement and Alumni Engagement noted, “Permanent endowment for The Apprenticeship Hub provides support for this program now and into perpetuity. This is philanthropy at its finest.” 

The grant was authored by Dr. Keely Baronak and Ms. Patty Beaumont, grant writer for the Education Programs, with the inspiration and leadership of long-time Program Director for Early Childhood at Carlow University, Dr. Rae Ann Hirsh.

How The Apprenticeship Hub Works

The Apprenticeship Hub provides a bachelor’s degree pathway leading to teacher certification for those who work at least 25 hours a week in licensed childcare centers. The Program offers every enrolled student a mentor, course textbooks, stipends for certification testing, 24 credits on-the-job, online and evening coursework tailored to working adults, stipends for extended practicum experiences in elementary grades, professional development opportunities, and monthly cohort meetings.

The Apprenticeship Hub staff connect students to financial aid resources and tuition scholarships from the State Professional Development Organization system. Carlow University’s mission and commitment to social justice is evident in the specially priced tuition for apprenticeship students. This allows students to complete a four-year degree in Education with little to no debt.

The Apprenticeship Hub has expanded to provide a high school pre-apprenticeship model for those students interested in pursing education as a profession and has extended to graduate-level initial teacher preparation, particularly as part of a paraprofessional pipeline. The endowment will also provide scholarship support for Center Directors who wish to earn their master’s degree in Early Childhood Supervision.

About Carlow University

Located in Oakland, the heart of Pittsburgh’s “Eds, Meds, and Tech” district, Carlow University is a private, co-educational, Catholic university founded in 1929 by the Sisters of Mercy. Offering an intimate, personable environment and faculty focused on teaching excellence and experiential learning, Carlow is known for its strong commitment to social justice, ethical forward-thinking leadership and meaningful services that make a positive impact in the community and beyond.

Carlow University is unique in serving babies to age three through its early childhood education center, children PreK to K-8 at its Campus Lab School, and students from high school to age 82 through its campus network and online educational offerings. From undergraduate degree programs to more than 50 graduate, doctoral and certificate programs, Carlow students graduate ready to meet today’s workforce demands for specialized knowledge and skills. Approximately, 98% of Carlow undergraduate alumni are enrolled in an advanced degree program or employed within six months of graduation.

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