Curtis Fund established scholarship program for early childhood educator certificates

The Curtis Fund Commitment: A Comprehensive Scholarship for Early Childhood Educators

Vermont Business Magazine The Curtis Fund, a supporting organization of the Vermont Community Foundation, is pleased to announce a bold scholarship program for Vermonters seeking to become early childhood educators. The Curtis Fund Commitment: A Comprehensive Scholarship for Early Childhood Educators is a pilot program that will provide scholarships for the full cost of attendance (tuition, fees, housing, food, and transportation) to students who wish to earn a certificate in child care at the Community College of Vermont (CCV).

“The high cost of educating early childhood educators and the low wages they earn upon graduation causes significant problems for Vermont families and employers alike,” says Amy Mellencamp, president of The Curtis Fund’s Board of Directors. “Yet our society and economy are dependent upon the availability of child care workers.”

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that the median annual wage for a child care worker in Vermont is $29,430. The combined high cost of postsecondary education and low salary are discouraging people from becoming early childhood educators and creating financial hardship for those that do. The Curtis Fund hopes to address this by investing in a certificate program as a more affordable way to prepare early childhood educators. Most importantly, this program will allow students to graduate with the knowledge and skills they need to start their careers, debt-free.

“We anticipate learning a lot from this pilot program and are grateful to an anonymous donor who is generously funding it,” says Shana Trombley, executive director of The Curtis Fund. “It is our hope that by covering the full cost of attendance we can help more early childhood educators earn their certificate efficiently and debt-free, thereby creating a viable pipeline for educating more early childhood educators to meet the demand.”

Child care certificate graduates must complete a 24-hour credit program and obtain one year of classroom experience to qualify as a teacher associate. According to Let’s Grow Kids, another supporting organization of the Community Foundation, teacher associates could fill an estimated 1,600 of the 2,090 openings for early childhood educators in Vermont.

The pilot program will be available to students graduating from career and technical education programs focused on early childhood education and/or human services. There are 12 of these programs across the state and they help high school juniors and seniors establish a strong foundation from which to enter the early childhood education field.

The Curtis Fund is partnering with the Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children (VTAEYC) to identify potential candidates. VTAEYC has a strong track record of developing programs to help prospective early childhood educators attain the education they need to achieve their career goals.

“We know it’s going to take all of us working together to solve the child care challenge,” says CCV president Joyce Judy. “We are pleased to partner with The Curtis Fund and VTAEYC in this effort to invest in early childhood educators, strengthen the child care workforce, and support working families—a win-win-win for Vermont.” 

Janet McLaughlin, executive director of VTAEYC, adds, “Vermont families need skilled and passionate early childhood educators. We are excited about The Curtis Fund Commitment scholarship program because it rewards students for choosing this path.”

For more information about The Curtis Fund Commitment: A Comprehensive Scholarship for Early Childhood Educators and to learn how to apply, please contact [email protected] or call (802) 387-0870.

The Curtis Fund and VTAEYC will host two virtual information sessions on November 16th, 2022, from 12:00 – 12:30 p.m. and again that evening from 6:30 – 7:00 p.m. To sign up, please visit

The Curtis Fund joined the Vermont Community Foundation family in 2018, after existing for more than 108 years as a private foundation. Emma Eliza Curtis had no children of her own, but she held the belief that education could change the course of a person’s life. When she died in Burlington in 1910, she left $120,000 in trust to provide financial assistance to young Vermont men and women to pursue a postsecondary education. Since then, The Curtis Fund has grown that bequest to more than $31 million, with annual grants of approximately $1.8 million. Learn more at

The Community College of Vermont is Vermont’s second-largest college, serving nearly 10,000 students each year. With 12 locations and extensive online learning options, our students don’t have to travel far from their communities to access our degree and certificate programs, workforce, secondary and continuing education opportunities, and academic and veterans support services.

The Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children (VTAEYC) advances excellence and equity in early childhood education as the state’s largest membership organization for early childhood educators and is the state affiliate of NAEYC, the National Association for the Education of Young Children. As a nonprofit organization formed by a grassroots effort 50 years ago and now with 500+ members, VTAEYC offers advocacy, workforce development, professional development and other resources to its membership and others in the early childhood education field. With a small staff, a dedicated Board, and a collaborative approach VTAEYC aims to meet the needs of today’s early childhood education workforce and create a stronger, more equitable early childhood education system for the future. Learn more:

The Vermont Community Foundation inspires giving and brings people and resources together to make a difference in Vermont. A family of hundreds of funds and foundations, we provide the advice, investment vehicles, and back-office expertise that make it easy for the people who care about Vermont to find and fund the causes they love.

The heart of the Community Foundation’s work is closing the opportunity gap—the divide that leaves too many Vermonters struggling to get ahead, no matter how hard they work. We are aligning our time, energy, and discretionary resources on efforts that provide access to early care and learning, pathways to college and career training, support for youth and families, and community and economic vitality. We envision Vermont at its best—where everyone has the opportunity to build a bright, secure future. Visit or call 802-388-3355 for more information. 

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