CEC earns Community Partner Award for positive impact on children and families

by Contributed Content on December 26, 2022

Menlo Park-based nonprofit Community Equity Collaborative (CEC) was honored with the Community Partner Award from the Child Care Coordinating Council of San Mateo County (also known as 4Cs).

David Fleishman, 4C’s Executive Director, presented the award to co-founders Heather Hopkins and Dayna Chung (pictured) at their 50th Anniversary & Leadership Awards Event last month, citing CEC’s positive change and collaborative work in the field of early care and education.

California State Senator Josh Becker’s office (CA-13) also presented awardees with a Certificate of Recognition, with CEC also receiving commendations for its “collaborative efforts to make a significant impact on the children and families in our community.”

In 2018, CEC launched the Teacher Pipeline Project to address the severe shortage of early childhood educators across the Bay Area. Through this pilot program, they recruited and assisted community members to enroll in college and provided them with employer connections and wraparound support. Partners included community colleges, local school districts, nonprofits, libraries, boards of supervisors, state legislators, preschools, ECE advocates and more.

According to Executive Director Dayna Chung, this work inspired the Early Childhood Education Workforce Waiver, a bill which she co-sponsored with Assemblymember Berman.  CEC is currently transitioning this pilot program to its permanent home with Upward Scholars, a Bay Area Latinx-led organization with a track record of providing academic and career support to adult-immigrants. With Upward Scholars, the new program will be called TeacherUp.

In 2020 and 2021, CEC collaborated with 4C’s other members of the San Mateo County Child Care Response team to advocate for and distribute almost $5.5M of San Mateo County’s CARES Act funds plus community donations to child care programs adversely impacted by COVID-19. The Child Care Relief Fund, which CEC administered, provided grants to programs that provide child care services to the most vulnerable children across the county.

Following the success of the Child Care Relief Fund, CEC fundraised for and administered the Learning Hubs Initiative on behalf of the County of San Mateo. In partnership with the San Mateo Credit Union, CEC distributed $1.98M of county funds plus private and other donations to support 741 students (97% socioeconomically disadvantaged) in grades K-12 through the end of the 2020-2021 school year.

Looking to the new year, Dayna Chung said they are excited to bring back Rainbow Kids, a training program that debuted in April 2022 in collaboration with the San Mateo County Pride Center. According to CEC Organizing Member Heather Hopkins, “children form foundational concepts of gender, families, and love before the age of five. The training offers parents, teachers and other caregivers of pre-school age children practical information and guidance on topics such as gender identity and expression and the messages children receive about gender, love and family along with practical tools for talking about these ideas with their young kids.”

CEC plans to offer four virtual trainings in 2023 for parents, caregivers, and others pursuing a more expansive, welcoming world for young children. In addition, they are launching efforts to create a culturally relevant Spanish language version of Rainbow Kids to serve Latinx families and educators. To sign-up for Rainbow Kids news and updates, click here.

You can learn more about CEC programs, make a tax-deductible donation or connect with the CEC team, by visiting their website or emailing Dayna Chung at dayna@communityequitycollaborative.org.

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