Transforming the Early Childhood Workforce - Phase III

Award Year:
Investment Term: 2018 - 2021
Investment Type:
Investment Amount:
$2 million
Outcome Area:

Transforming the Early Childhood Workforce - Phase III

Investee Background:

Over the next four years, Gary Community Investments and the Buell Foundation expect to provide $4 million in philanthropic funding to support a public-private partnership that is testing innovative solutions to Colorado’s early childhood workforce challenges. The initiative, which is being led by Early Milestones Colorado, brings together state agencies and local early care and education partnerships across the state to improve the recruitment, retention and compensation of early childhood teachers and caregivers. This is the third phase of the initiative, and GCI also provided funding to support the initial phases.

Why We Invested:

One of the most important components in early care and education (ECE) is the teacher and caregiver workforce, yet recent research conducted during the initial phase of this project found that a severe gap exists in the availability of qualified professionals in Colorado that is expected to widen over the next eight years. The state’s ECE system produces approximately $1.4 billion in economic activity through 22,500 jobs and generates $4.4 billion by enabling parents to work. As Colorado’s population of young children continues to grow and its economy thrives, it’s essential that ECE workforce retention issues are addressed, which is driven by levels of compensation, working conditions and a career path. Improving the ECE workforce has become a national priority, and many state and national organizations and foundations are actively engaged in solving teacher recruitment, retention and compensation challenges. Through this initiative, Colorado is positioning itself at the forefront of engaging in this work locally while being informed by national efforts.

Expected Impact:

This new initiative will test state and local strategies to recruit and retain an effective, qualified and diverse ECE workforce. Local ECE projects will apply for pooled funding to pilot solutions that focus on targeted recruitment, career pathways, compensation, and working conditions, while the Colorado Department of Human Services and the Colorado Department of Education will engage in state-level projects that focus on reviewing systems barriers and addressing feedback from the local projects. In addition, Early Milestones and state agencies will work together to establish statewide ECE workforce metrics, which would be a major breakthrough in using state-level workforce information to inform decision-making. This project is meant to improve the stability and success of Colorado’s ECE workforce—a challenge that no state has fully addressed. By taking an innovative approach to solving these problems, GCI believes there is the potential to source breakthrough solutions that could transform Colorado’s ECE sector and help improve the school readiness of our youngest learners.