Building the Early Childhood Talent Pool Through the Bridge Program

In October, the Steelcase Foundation awarded $165,000 over three years to Vibrant Futures (formerly Camp Fire West Michigan 4C), Kent County’s leading organization for education, business development, and training of childcare professionals to support its Bridge Program. The Bridge Program will build and refine Vibrant Futures’ course offerings and infrastructure to:

  1. Establish a tiered scholarship system for professional development and credentialling to support childcare professionals throughout their careers and help rank and evaluate applications.
  2. Identify and implement a new Learning Management System to facilitate course delivery.
  3. Review and refine course offerings to best meet the needs of childcare providers and those looking to enter the field.
  4. Develop new childcare provider recognition strategies and public awareness campaigns to recruit individuals to the profession.
Picture courtesy of Vibrant Futures

The early childhood profession was hard hit by COVID-19 and is expected to lose nearly one-third of its workforce nationally. The Bridge Program seeks to shore up the talent pipeline, providing individuals in the field scholarships for credentialing opportunities to expanding their skillsets and support new childcare professionals entering the field. Access to quality childcare helps ensure parents can go to work while their children receive early learning experiences preparing them for kindergarten, making Vibrant Futures’ efforts to ensure a steady stream of childcare workers critical to building a healthy economic ecosystem. We’re excited to walk alongside Vibrant Futures’ and to build the talent pipeline for quality childcare providers.