We’re always excited to see Arizona organizations get the recognition they deserve. This year, First Things First — Arizona’s only public funding source dedicated exclusively to early childhood — has been named among the top 25 innovations in government by Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Created by Arizona voters, First Things First works to expand and enhance early childhood education, health and parenting programs that ensure more children arrive at kindergarten prepared to be successful. Arizona PBS receives grant funding from First Things First on a variety of initiatives — some statewide, and some specific to local areas.
For example, we have been awarded grants from First Things First Yuma for several years. This funding allows us to serve the Yuma area by providing professional development workshops for early childhood educators, an annual conference, and an early literacy workshop series that helps parents and grandparents prepare their children for kindergarten.
On a statewide level, Arizona PBS also administers the First Things First scholarship program, which helps people working toward associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in early childhood education or special education. We’ve awarded over 800 scholarships in the past year and new applicants are able to apply at any time. It’s a way we can help Arizona children by helping the professionals who care for them improve their skills and earn teaching certification.
“Knowing that I would have financial support going to school was all I needed,” a recipient of the First Things First scholarship wrote in a survey. “When I learned about the scholarship program, I immediately began searching for a school and figuring out what I needed to finish my degree.”
As Arizona PBS staff travel across the state to help educators use PBS resources, they’re also helping early childhood professionals — including all scholarship applicants — sign up for the Arizona Early Childhood Workforce Registry, a database of teachers and caregivers who work with young children. Through the registry, individuals can list their credentials while preschools and Head Start centers can list their staff qualifications all in one place. These networking capabilities help teachers and caregivers advance in their careers while also helping ensure quality services for children and families.
We’re proud to see First Things First recognized for their work, and the work we do together.