The United Way’s Success By 6 Impact Council has launched the Natalie Pugh Memorial Professional Development Fund. This new fund, named in honor of a dedicated early childhood education advocate and United Way volunteer, will offer financial support to early childhood educators who wish to pursue opportunities being offered by Success By 6 to enhance their knowledge, skills, and practice.
Natalie Pugh was a co-chair of the Success By 6 Impact Council and was integral in the development of the impact council structure and reorganizing the long-standing Success By 6 committee into a council. A strong community advocate for early childhood education, she devoted her career to promoting high-quality care in the Wabash Valley both in volunteer roles and with her job at Chances and Services for Youth. Education was always an important element that Natalie encouraged for early childhood educators. Natalie passed away in October of 2021, and this lead the Success By 6 Council to focus their educational investments through a fund dedicated in Natalie’s honor.
The Success By 6 Council focuses on promoting healthy early childhood development to ensure children enter school ready to succeed. The Council believes that to develop an ecosystem of high-quality early childhood education in the Wabash Valley we must invest in the education and professional development of our teachers and caregivers. This fund will allow the Success By 6 Council to invest in programs and initiatives that lift up our local educators and child care professionals to provide them more opportunities to be best prepared to care for our future generations.
Success By 6 currently has two investments that are included in the Natalie Pugh Memorial Professional Development Fund. Over time, Success By 6 will add to and update these professional development opportunities so that it can respond to the needs of the profession. The current investments include:
- The Credential Assistance Program (CAP) awards educational incentives to those who complete their credential/degree program utilizing the federally funded and Indiana-administered T.E.A.C.H Early Childhood Scholarship Program or Illinois’s Gateways Scholarship Program. These already-funded programs provide tuition reimbursement to students in the early childhood education field.
This CAP funding not only supports and encourages students to complete their education, but it also provides an incentive payment to the students’ early childhood education program employers as they support their employees’ efforts to attain their educational goals. The incentive funding ranges from $500 – $1,500 based on the credential or degree type.
- The Professional Development Grants support enrichment opportunities for childcare staff and preschool teachers who provide direct care for young children. The funds cover registration fees for conferences, workshops, classes, etc. that will improve the applicants’ ability to do their job and foster the healthy development of young children. The grant awards range from $30-$150.
Krissie Pickering, the co-chair of the Success By 6 Council stated, “Natalie was such an influence on the early education community. She was a devoted United Way volunteer and an inspiration to many. We wanted to find a unique way to honor her commitment and create a legacy that many in early childhood education will benefit from in a positive way. This fund will provide much-needed financial assistance to increase the knowledge and skill of our early childhood professionals, thus having a positive influence on the entire Wabash Valley.”
For more information on the Natalie Pugh Professional Development Memorial Fund investments, visit uwwv.org/funding.