Project Pathfinders July 21

Recognizing that one of the most important factors in school success is the capabilities of the adults who promote young children’s growth and learning, VECF is pleased to be part of an exciting new initiative to support one of Virginia’s most valuable workforces – early childhood professionals. VECF will administer a scholarship program - Project Pathfinders - designed to increase the skills of early childhood professionals in preschool and child care settings by accessing community college coursework and credentials. Thanks to funding made available in the 2019-2020 biennial budget by Governor Northam and the 2018 General Assembly, we look forward to the opportunity to ensure that Virginia has the best trained early education workforce.

Application Options for Pathfinders Funding

JUNE 15 - JULY 23 is the Fall Semester 2021 funding application window


Read the definitions below and make sure you select the application that correctly applies to your current educational situation after creating and/or logging into your Pathfinders account.


Community College Early Childhood Programs - application is for those:
  • currently employed working with infants, toddlers, and / or preschoolers and
  • working towards completing an Early Childhood certificate or AAS degree at a VA community college.
4-year College Bachelor's Degree - application is for those:
  • who are currently employed working with infants, toddlers, and / or preschoolers,
  • who have already graduated from a VA community college with the newer/transferable/2+2 EC AAS degree, and
  • who plan to now continue their education towards seeking the Early Childhood Bachelor's Degree at one of these colleges: James Madison, George Mason, Longwood, or Bluefield.
Note: If you are eligible to apply for the Bachelor's Degree scholarship, please contact for the access code to this online application.
High School Dual Enrollment Program - application is for those:
  • who are currently attending high school and
  • who are officially enrolled in their high school's Early Childhood dual enrollment program.

Pathfinders Informational Materials:

Project Pathfinders Overview and Updated FAQs
Project Pathfinders Information Sheet


Registered Apprenticeship Materials

Along with Project Pathfinders scholarships, early childhood professionals have access to the Registered Apprenticeship program administered by the Virginia Department of Labor & Industry. Registered Apprenticeship allows professionals who are working at least 30 hours a week to talk with their employer to set specific professional development goals. Apprentices are then assigned a veteran teacher at their site to act as a mentor, and take coursework at a local Virginia Community College utilizing the Pathfinders scholarships. At the end of each year of the Apprenticeship – usually 2 to 3 years – the employee receives a wage increase that is pre-determined by the employer. The Apprentice also receives a nationally-recognized Certificate of Completion. Click here to learn more about the Registered Apprenticeship program and how sites can enroll.

Meet your Scholarship Advisor - Mila Spaulding

To learn more about the people behind the workforce, check out the profiles below.