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School of Education receives $5 million grant to close the equity gap for Black and Latina women

The donation helps efforts to make early childhood education more equitable for DC residents

The American University School of Education and its community partners received a $5 million grant from JP Morgan Chase, President Sylvia Burwell announced in an email Jan. 28. 

The grant was a response to AU’s Advancing Early Educartion Collaborative initiative and its partnership with Trinity Washington University, LIFT DC and Martha’s Table. The AEEC initiative focuses on creating a stackable credential program by starting with a Child Development Associate credential and ending with a bachelor's degree from either AU or Trinity. 

Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, the dean of the SOE, said that the AEEC program aims to increase access to education, training and financial support for Black and Latina women pursuing careers in early childhood education. The AEEC initiative also delves into providing clinical sites as a requirement for obtaining a CDA through a partnership with Martha’s Table

Most personnel in early childhood education in the district are women of color,” Holcomb-McCoy said. “They work in early childhood education working in childcare centers at a very low wage and often can’t even support their own families.”

The grant will support educators pursuing higher education through childcare and transportation vouchers to continue their CDA. 

Vivian Vasquez, a professor of education at AU, developed the CDA program through the prism of anti-racist thinking and culturally responsive pedagogy to better equip students in the field. The CDA program will give flexibility to early childhood educators with asynchronous coursework.

“We hope to have graduated about 300 D.C. residents, and majority of them women, with their CDA credential,” Holcomb-McCoy said.

Burwell and AU Provost Peter Starr agreed with the SOE to adjust their tuition to match Trinity’s tuition for the program, making it more affordable and accessible. Much of the program will grant access to apply for scholarships and guarantee financial security. 

“It’s pretty exciting,” Holcomb-McCoy said. “It’s also a way for us in the School of Education to fully realize our mission to transform lives through education and our social justice and anti-racist approach.”

Holcomb-McCoy hopes to continue bringing higher education institutions and nonprofits together to train early childhood educators with the best resources. She also said she has plans to start investing in the ability to expand their program into more affluent communities. 

“This is showing us how important education is, and it is an area where we need students who will carry the torch into the future,” Holcomb-McCoy said. 

Editor's note: A previous version of this article used a name for the Advancing Early Education Collaborative that is no longer in use. The article has been updated with the program's new name. 

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