Esperanza and Vanguard Strong Start for Kids Program™ Collaborate to Strengthen Early Childhood Education

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. Philadelphia, Pa. – June 2, 2021 – Esperanza has been awarded a two-year grant totaling $992,100 from Vanguard’s Strong Start for Kids Program™. The grant will benefit the Esperanza Early Childhood Education (ECE) Hope Pathways for Leaders Program and allow Esperanza to develop a more robust educational pipeline to address critical early childhood education gaps in Philadelphia.

Esperanza College of Eastern University has established associate degree and Child Development Associate programs that are responsive to the unique needs of our Hispanic community. As a result of this funding, in January 2021, Esperanza College launched a Director’s Credential program to support continued professionalization of the field by equipping practitioners with managerial skills. Funding from Vanguard will also address tuition and student-support expenses to improve access and further enhance equity within the ECE field. In addition, Vanguard’s support will allow Esperanza College to introduce paid internships for ECE students to strengthen the local network of ECE providers and support the retention of quality early childhood education practitioners across the pipeline – ensuring that students do not have to choose between their career goals and making ends meet.

Esperanza College of Eastern University is the only federally recognized Hispanic-Serving Institution in the state of Pennsylvania. Esperanza will serve as a leading resource for Latinx early childhood education within Philadelphia – including the establishment of a 2-day annual regional symposium for early learning in the Latinx community and beyond.

Esperanza College of Eastern University Dean Marilyn Marsh shares, “We are excited to be an academic resource in preparing and equipping Latinx early childhood professionals in the ECE pathways who will meet the needs of the children in the local communities. This award funding will benefit not just Esperanza College and its ECE students, but the community at large, and we look forward to a promising partnership of positive change.”

“The supply of and access to high quality early childhood programming has long been too low in the Latinx community,” said Carra Cote-Ackah, President, Vanguard Group Foundation and Executive Director of Community Stewardship for Vanguard. “We are excited to partner with Esperanza to ensure more young children have well-prepared teachers and child care providers in Philadelphia.”


Esperanza is a national community-based social benefit organization founded in 1986 by the Reverend Luis Cortés Jr., and the Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia & Vicinity with the biblical mandate to serve and advocate for “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40). Beginning with a local initiative, with programs targeted to address the unmet needs of North Philadelphia’s Hispanic community, Rev. Cortés is now sought by national and international leaders alike on issues of economic and workforce development, housing, immigration, and education. Under his leadership, Esperanza has grown from a small operation to a $52 million organization with more than 500 employees. Visit www.esperanza.us or follow us on social media @esperanza_us on Twitter and Instagram, EsperanzaUSA on Facebook and Esperanza US on YouTube.

The Vanguard Strong Start for Kids Program™ invests in tomorrow by supporting the development, learning, and joy of young children today. As Vanguard’s signature charitable initiative, Strong Start provides funding, volunteer time and talent, and other nonfinancial assets to give children growing up in poverty in Arizona, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania the opportunity to grow, thrive, and learn, with a focus on improving school readiness. Launched in 2016, the program has committed more than $42 million in grants to support nurturing home environments for infants and toddlers, high-quality classrooms, and a strong early childhood sector.

For media inquiries, please contact Samantha Martinez at smartinez@esperanza.us.