Career Pathways Grant

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Career Pathways Grant – BCC Education Overview

Berkshire Community College (BCC) offers students a variety of pathways to achieve their academic and career goals.

At BCC, the Career Pathways Grant funds the CDA Plus Cohort Program. This grant pays all tuition and fees for students to earn their Associate's Degree in Early Childhood Education.

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BCC Education Program

For general questions about the BCC Education program, please contact Patty Kay, M.Ed., Chair, Education Department at or 413-236-4626.

CDA Career Pathways Grant

For questions about the CDA Career Pathways grant, please reach out to Alicia Ginsberg M.Ed, Career Pathways Grant Coordinator at or 413-236-4598.

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  • Early Childhood Education A.A. Degree

    Courses outlined in the Associate in Arts program meet the Massachusetts Transfer Compact and provide a strong foundation for students continuing on to a bachelor's degree while the Associate in Science program prepares students to immediately enter the work force.

    Learn About the Early Childhood Education A.A. Degree

  • Early Childhood Education A.S. Degree

    The A.S. in Early Childhood Education is a "career degree" meeting the needs of teachers in the field seeking an associate degree as a terminal degree. This option, with more required courses directly relevant to the care and teaching of young children and relating to working with families, provides training for those early childhood educators who choose to remain in the field at an associate degree level. Early Childhood Education (ECE) courses align with MADOEEC and NAEYC standards.

    Read About the Early Childhood Education A.S. Degree

  • Early Childhood Education Introductory Certificate

    The Introductory Early Childhood Education certificate is the first pathway leading to greater qualifications for work with young children. With the experience provided in the practicum (ECE-123), those completing this certificate will be ready to apply for teacher qualification through the MADOEEC. The required ECE courses will be offered in the evening in rotation.

    Get Information About the Early Childhood Education Introductory Certificate

  • Early Childhood Education Intermediate Certificate

    After completion of the Introductory Early Childhood Education certificate or equivalent, students may begin work on this pathway. This certificate, together with nine months of additional experience in the field, prepares people to pursue lead teacher qualification through the MADOEEC. The required ECE courses will be offered in the evening in rotation.

    Learn About the Intermediate Certificate

  • Elementary Education A.A. Degree

    The Elementary Education Program in Liberal Arts meets the Massachusetts Transfer Compact and lays the groundwork for students to become well-rounded, competent educators. The curriculum offers a strong foundation in liberal arts courses including: Foundations of Education, Language and Literacy, Introductory Psychology and Children's Literature, while adhering to the Massachusetts Professional Standards for Teachers. Field Experience hours are embedded in program courses in preparation for pursuing a bachelor's degree and to fulfill requirements for the elementary education license and MTEL exams.

    Read About the Elementary Education A.A. Degree

THE CDA Career Pathways Grant

The Career Pathways Grant funds the CDA Plus Cohort Program.

The CDA Plus Cohort meets at the same day and time each week. Cohort courses follow BCC's "stackable" credentials, which allow students to progress towards certificates and an A.S. Degree ("Stackable" means that the program covers multiple credential levels, and students earn those credentials as they complete the program).

Students begin by working towards their Introductory Certificate at Berkshire Community College; this certificate is aligned with both the CDA Credential and the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) Lead Teacher Certification. It also stacks into BCC's Intermediate Certificate and Associates of Science (A.S.) degree.

Benefits of the Grant:

The Career Pathways grant at BCC provides:

  • Tuition and fees for all ECE courses.
  • Weekly meetings with our ECE Mentor to help students with content, assignments, time management and study skills.
  • Textbooks for all ECE courses (including the CDA Bundle of textbooks).
  • Materials for CDA portfolio development.
  • A laptop on loan to the new ECE Cohorts.
  • Stipends for childcare and transportation (up to $1,000 a year).

In addition, our robust traditional day program is here for you to pursue courses during the day if working in the field is not an option at this time.

CDA Career Pathways Grant FAQ

  • Do I qualify for the EEC Career Pathways Grant?

    To qualify you need to have a PQR and work in the field for a minimum of 20 hours a week. The work hour requirement is subject to change due to COVID-19.

    Work in the field can be at a childcare center, before/after school care, family child care center or in a public preschool or kindergarten classroom.

  • Why a cohort?

    In a college setting, a cohort is a group of classmates that enters the same program at the same time, and completes their courses together to complete a CDA and an Associate in Science Degree.

    • Cohort classes meet on the same day and time
    • Learn through modular hybrid courses (classes that meet both in person and online)
    • Only two classes a semester
    • Learn year-round
  • Not sure if college and the cohort is right for you?

    The CDA Plus Cohort begins with a pre-cohort semester in which interested students are enrolled in Child Growth and Development, Childcare Health and Safety, and weekly tutoring addressing the reading, writing and math skills needed to demonstrate college readiness on Accuplacer.

    The Child Growth and Development course allows students to apply for Teacher status in the EEC's credentialing system. The Childcare Health and Safety course helps you to become acquainted with BCC's technology while you learn. Once accepted into the college, students continue into the Early Childhood Education CDA Plus Cohort to earn their certificates (CDA and BCC), and finally an Associate of Science (AS) degree.

  • What is a PQR number?

    A PQR number is a Professional Quality Registry number. It's issued by the Commonwealth of MA through the Department of Early Education and Care.

  • How do I know if I have a PQR number?

    If you work at a licensed child care, day camp or summer camp program, you most likely already have a PQR number set up through your employer. Please ask your supervisor.

  • How do I get a PQR number?
  • I don 't work in early childhood now, but I want to. Can I join the cohort and receive grant funding?

    The grant requires that you work in early childhood, and will support you in taking classes while you find a job. You will have 3 months to get a job in early childcare (This requirement is subject to change due to COVID-19 — please contact Alicia Ginsberg for up-to-date information).

  • Will the grant pay for me to get my A.S. degree?

    The grant will pay all tuition and fees for ECE courses. Other courses are subsidized by the grant after your financial aid is applied or other scholarship is applied, such as the EEC Scholarship. With these supports you should not have to pay for any courses at BCC while under the grant.

  • I don 't have money to buy books. Can the grant help me?

    The Career Pathways grant will lend you books for all ECE courses. For other courses, you will be able to use your stipend money to help pay for books and materials.

  • Will I have time to work and take classes?

    All classes for the cohort are held in the evening or early morning, allowing you to work before or after class.

  • How can the grant help me to pass a course? I am afraid I will not be successful at college.

    The Career Pathways grant at BCC is designed to support students who have not had success in school in the past. Through weekly mentoring sessions students are supported in their individual needs, including understanding content and assignments as well as developing study skills, time management techniques, professionalism, and more. The mentor and grant coordinator will be your advocates in the higher education process, and will support you throughout your pursuit of a degree.

  • What if I fail a course?

    A minimum GPA of 2.0 is required to receive grant funds. If you fail a course, you will lose grant funding but can continue on to take courses at BCC.

  • If I fail a course, how can I requalify for grant funding?

    If you fail a course, you must show that you are committed to your education by taking and passing a course without the grant funds or supports. Once you successfully pass a course you can be reinstated in the grant.

  • What is a CDA?

    The Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential™ is a nationally recognized credential in early childhood education based on a core set of competency standards to nurture the physical, intellectual emotional and social development of children.

    BCC offers the CDA PLUS, in which these competencies are integrated into the ECE coursework, ensuring the students understand and apply the CDA competencies along with EEC and NAEYC. This allows educators to get hands-on training at work, gain entry into the college system, and earn college credit along with their CDA.

    The CDA credential requires a portfolio, 480 hours working with children, as well as a CDA Verification Visit and Exam.

  • Should I pursue a degree and career in early childhood education?

    Employment of Early Childhood Educators is projected to grow 10% from 2016 to 2026, which is faster than average for all occupations. A degree with concentration in Early Childhood Education is flexible and can lead to work within public and private school systems.

    Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • What if I want to work with older children in elementary school instead of early childhood?

    There are many pathways at BCC, and different sources of funding. If you want to work with older kids you can get an Associate Degree in Elementary Education at BCC. While the Career Pathways grant does not fund students in this program, there are many avenues for funding at the college. We can help you talk to Financial Aid to find funding.

  • Can I speak to someone for more information?

    Yes. You can book a meeting with Alicia Ginsberg, M.Ed., Career Pathways Grant Coordinator.

Further Studies

Our Early Childhood Education program graduates can transfer right into the Elms at BCC Early Childhood Education Degree completion program. Program classes are taught at BCC in Pittsfield, and graduates receive a Bachelor's Degree from Elms College upon completion. For further details, schedule an appointment with Kelly Zieba, Off-Campus Program Coordinator at BCC.