University receives $2 million grant, endowment from Heinz Endowments

PITTSBURGH – Carlow University and its partners are working to improve the quality of early childhood education in Pennsylvania through funding support from the Heinz Endowments.

The Heinz Endowments have made a $1 million grant and a $1 million endowment to support Carlow’s Western Pennsylvania Early Childhood Apprenticeship Hub, the first four-year apprenticeship model in early childhood education. The grant was awarded at the Endowments’ February board meeting, weeks before the severity of COVID-19 became widely known. In response to the COVID -19 crisis, a portion of the grant was allocated toward funding to leverage the partnership between Pittsburgh Public Schools and community partners to support innovative approaches to promote healthy social, emotional and cognitive experiences for young children, families and teachers impacted by COVID 19 in Pittsburgh Public School’s early childhood programs.

“We are thrilled to receive funding from The Heinz Endowments. Our new Apprenticeship and pre-Apprenticeship team are empowered to pursue equity and excellence in early childhood education,” said Keely Baronak, EdD, executive director of The Campus Laboratory School at Carlow and chair of the Department of Education. “This award assures continued growth and success in our endeavors.”

With this grant, Carlow’s apprenticeship program, which was approved by the State of Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor in 2019, will increase the quality of early childhood education centers and build high-retention and supportive pathways for teachers of color. Students in the apprenticeship program meet the same course requirements and standards for early childhood educators as set by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and Power to the Profession Teacher Preparation Standards.

Michele Figlar, Vice President, Learning, at The Heinz Endowments said, “The Heinz Endowments is proud to support Carlow University for the ECE apprenticeship program and the teacher preparation program. We are especially thankful to the Carlow faculty and students in how they have quickly pivoted to support the Pittsburgh Public Schools Early Childhood Department and their community partners during this unprecedented time.”

“The support of The Heinz Endowments is vital for diversification of the teacher pipeline and the current childcare workforce in addition to supporting degree completion for our apprenticeship students,” said Rae Ann Hirsh, EdD, the program director for Early Childhood Education and who oversees the work of the Apprenticeship Hub. “The grant comes at an opportune time to not only support the early childhood community through apprenticeship, but also enables the flexibility to assist our community during the COVID-19 crisis as well.” She is an invited member of the Higher Education Consortium, a group working together to bring apprenticeship programs to institutions of higher education across Pennsylvania.

Students in Carlow’s apprenticeship program will complete 24 credits of their degree on-the-job. Additional courses will be completed in the evening and online to accommodate working adults. In addition, a one-month paid practicum in an elementary setting will provide invaluable field experiences needed in pursuit of Pre K-4 teacher certification.

For more information about how to qualify for the Western Pennsylvania Apprenticeship Hub, please visit: or call (412) 578-6059.

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