The Massachusetts Early Childhood Educators Scholarship program continues to be a critical source of financial support for working early educators returning to school to earn college degrees. In the fiscal year that just ended, 1,004 scholarships were awarded. (See our brief on the scholarship.) Recipients used their scholarships to attend 48 public and private community colleges, colleges and universities across the commonwealth, with 59% attending public institutions and 41% attending private ones.
Established by the state Legislature in fiscal year 2006, the scholarship program is designed to increase the number of early educators with college degrees and, thus, to increase the quality of early education and care programs in the state. Research shows that teachers’ training, education and compensation levels are the main determinants of the quality of early education and care programs. The most effective preschool teachers, research suggests, have bachelors’ degrees and training in early childhood education or child development.
(In the video above, Doreen Anzalone, who used the scholarship to return to school, talks about how earning a B.A. has made her a better teacher.)
The Early Childhood Educators Scholarship is part of a larger scholarship program administered by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. In its first year of funding, more than 1,000 educators applied for the $1 million available, and 614 scholarships were awarded. Recognizing this strong demand, the state tripled funding in FY07 and awarded 743 grants. Despite a challenging fiscal climate, the state awarded $3.2 million in FY 10, FY11 and FY12 – and preserves this funding level in FY13, which began July 1. To date, Massachusetts has allocated $24.8 million in cumulative funding on the scholarship program and awarded more than 5,000 scholarships.
Here is more information on FY12 scholarship recipients from the updated brief:
- The majority (56%) of scholarship recipients are working toward their bachelor’s degrees; others are working on their associate degrees.
- The five institutions of higher education with the most scholarship recipients were Urban College of Boston (76), University of Massachusetts/Amherst (68), Becker College/Worcester (66), University of Masachusetts/Boston (52) and Cambridge College (41).
- A diverse range of early educators receive scholarships:
- White, 54%
- Hispanic/Latino, 16%
- No race or ethnicity reported, 14%
- African-American, 11%
- Asian/Pacific Islander, 2%
- Multi-racial, Cape Verdean, Native American/Alaska Native, 1% or less of each
- Scholarship recipients reflect the mixed delivery system of public and private providers, with 86% from center-based programs and Head Start, 7% from family child care providers, 5% from public school programs, and 2% from school-age child care programs.
According to criteria set by the Board of Higher Education, scholarship recipients must have worked for at least one year in a licensed or license-exempt program and must continue to work as an early educator in Massachusetts for at least six months for every semester of scholarship aid, up to two years for an associate degree and four years for a bachelor’s degree. They must enroll in a degree-granting program and remain in good academic standing.
Click here for information from the Department of Higher Education about the Massachusetts Early Childhood Educators Scholarship.