Upskilling the Early Learning Workforce


Recognizing that one of the most important factors in school success is the capabilities of the adults who promote young children’s growth and learning, VECF is pleased to be part of an exciting new initiative to support one of Virginia’s most valuable workforces – early childhood professionals. In partnership with the Virginia Community College System, VECF will administer a scholarship program - Project Pathfinders - designed to increase the skills of early childhood professionals in preschool and child care settings by accessing community college coursework and credentials. Thanks to funding made available in the 2016-2018 biennial budget by Governor McAuliffe and the 2016 General Assembly, we look forward to the opportunity to ensure that Virginia has the best trained early education workforce.

Project Pathfinders Overview

Project Pathfinders Scholarship Application (Summer Semester 2017 Application period: March 15-April 20, Fall Semester 2017 Application period: June 15 – August 1.)

Preview of Project Pathfinders Scholarship Application - (pdf version)

Registered Apprenticeship: A Win-Win Strategy for Early Childhood Employers and Practitioners

Registered Apprenticeship: Frequently Asked Questions

To promote this scholarship opportunity with potential applicants, below are one-page information sheets in print and electronic versions.

Project Pathfinders Application Information Sheet - print version
Project Pathfinders Application Information Sheet - electronic version

Frequently Asked Questions - updated June 9, 2016

Meet your Scholarship Advisor - Mila Spaulding



Meet Renee Hochenberger – Assistant Center Director at Easter Seals Child Development Center of Northern Virginia located in Falls Church, Virginia. As a manager, Renee is always looking for innovative ways to support employees while improving their skills. So when Renee learned about the partnership between Project Pathfinders and Virginia’s Registered Apprenticeship program (RA), she contacted her regional Department of Labor representative to learn how to sign up!   

Currently, Renee has one employee, Amanda Barnes, enrolled in the RA program and it has already yielded benefits for Amanda and the center. First, the RA program’s requirement to assign a highly skilled mentor to each apprentice has resulted in the development of a strong coaching relationship between Amanda and a more seasoned teacher.  Secondly, thanks to the partnership between Pathfinders and the RA program, the cost of Amanda’s early childhood-related coursework is covered. In addition to these benefits, Renee says she is most excited about using the RA opportunity as a means to reward her teachers with a salary increase. “We need a basis to increase salaries and because the combined apprenticeship and scholarship enable the apprentice to finish school, we have no problem raising her salary.”

Renee is excited to enroll more employees in the program and to maintain career-minded teachers at the center. She says, “the turnover in this industry is hard, and by providing this program and adjustable salary we should be able to hold on to people.” 


Recent Posts

April Jarrett
Ramona Ozment
Danny Vasquez
Ana Filpo