Tag Archive for: Early Childhood Development

Early learning consortium receives grant

SOU and early learning consortium awarded $1.75 million grant

(Ashland, Ore.) — The Early Childhood Development program at Southern Oregon University will receive a $1.75 million grant from the Oregon Department of Education’s Early Learning Division to lead and expand a collaborative effort to provide education and support for early-learning professionals in the region.

SOU will become the fiscal agent and lead institution for the Southern Oregon Early Learning Professional Development Consortium – a collaboration between SOU, Rogue Community College, Klamath Community College, Umpqua Community College, Southwestern Oregon Community College and several child-care resource and referral agencies in southern Oregon.

This year’s grant – the largest in the consortium’s nine-year history – will support efforts to provide comprehensive financial and academic assistance to early learning professionals throughout the region. The consortium’s offerings include zero-cost courses, mentorship opportunities and financial assistance.

RCC has served as the fiscal agent and coordinated projects on behalf of the consortium over the past several years, but agreed to pass the leadership role to SOU’s Early Childhood Development team, beginning with the 2023-25 biennium that starts July 1.

“We are dearly and deeply grateful to Eileen Micke-Johnson of RCC, whose unwavering dedication and high-quality leadership has helped this project flourish, year-after-year,” said Younghee Kim, an Education professor at SOU and coordinator of the university’s Early Childhood Development program. “We hope to follow in her footsteps and look forward to consulting with her, in her continuing roles at RCC and beyond.”

Kim will share consortium leadership duties with Kayla Rapet, an instructor, advisor and navigation coach for SOU’s School of Education.

The new round of grant funding will enable the Southern Oregon Early Learning Professional Development Consortium to expand its services and create new and innovative professional development opportunities. New projects that SOU’s ECD team will work to initiate include:

  • Scholarships and other financial assistance for early learning students
  • Micro-credentials in Infant Mental Health and Early Childhood Education, created in partnership with community agencies
  • Hiring a bilingual (Spanish/English) navigation coach for ECD online students who are first-language Spanish speakers
  • A potential Bachelor of Applied Science degree in early childhood education that streamlines pathways for transfer students and aligns with SOU’s newly designed general education courses

The grant is also expected to support peer-mentoring professional development workshops for ECD students, continuation of the ECD Student Leadership Club and expansion of ECD Saturday workshops to advance regional collaborations.

Students in SOU’s ECD program graduate with a solid knowledge base of child development, play-based curriculum and teaching, and best practices for working with young children and their families. They also learn advocacy skills to support the children and families they serve, and the profession of early childhood education.