“When a child can connect with their teacher in their native language, Spanish, and with someone who understands the cultural values and upbringing typical of Latino children, they are more effectively able to build rapport and support the child’s holistic growth and development” Felton Institute Chief Operations Officer (COO) Dr. Yohana Quiróz explains.

Felton Institute proudly presents ECE REACH (Early Care and Education, Realizing Employment and Creating Hope), a groundbreaking apprenticeship pilot program launched in 2023 that embodies the spirit of hope, opportunity, and empowerment. At ECE REACH, we’re not just offering services – we’re igniting dreams and forging pathways to success for our new and incumbent ECE community members. Picture this: a vibrant ecosystem where new and incumbent members of the Felton Institute ECE workforce, alongside pregnant and parenting individuals eager to step into the world of Early Care and Education, come together in pursuit of their aspirations.

ECE REACH is more than just a beacon of light; it’s a lifeline for first-generation college students, immigrant Latinas, and other underserved adults and transitional-aged youth. We believe in tearing down barriers and opening doors to possibilities previously thought unattainable. “This work,” Dr. Quiróz explains, “stems from a shortage of early childhood educators. Not enough individuals are going into this sector, which creates real challenges for providers like Felton, who are committed to this work but can’t find enough qualified teachers.” In addition, in Tier 1 (new to the workforce), the program focuses on supporting a Latino workforce that reflects a growing Latino population. “By 2050, it’s projected that one-third of children in the United States will be Latino,” Dr. Quiroz stresses. Adding, “Cultural and linguistic representation matters.”

In the heart of the Mission, Bayview, and other San Francisco districts, where diversity thrives, and stories of resilience are woven into the fabric of everyday life, ECE REACH stands as a testament to the transformative power of education and community support. ECE REACH goes beyond representation and workforce development. Workforce Development and Success Director Gigi Munoz states that the program promotes a two-generational approach that “creates a pathway for educators and uplifts the family. It positively impacts the lives of all family members.” Dr. Quiróz elucidates that participants are paving the way for their children. “When children witness their mothers pursuing higher education or obtaining a degree, they are more inclined to follow the same path. This fosters a culture where attending college is valued and encouraged.” ECE REACH’s positive impact was felt at ECE REACH’s first-ever graduation. Ms. Munoz recalls of the graduates, “seeing our graduates up there, being celebrated, was incredibly special.” Dr. Quiróz echoed this sentiment, “witnessing tears of joy from some attendees underscored the profound impact of our program on their lives.”

ECE REACH elevates women and demonstrates its capacity to make a meaningful impact on economic mobility and professional advancement in the early childhood education sector. “The influence that the program has had on the livelihood and of these individuals,” Dr. Quiróz reflects, “is very powerful and at the same time is very humbling.” With three tiers of opportunity – from Teacher’s Assistant to Lead Teacher – we’re not just offering jobs; we’re nurturing careers and fostering leadership. Our focus on Tier 1, tailored to existing Felton Institute, other ECE providers, or Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) clients, is just the beginning of a journey toward creating a more diverse ECE workforce pipeline. Whether it’s through center-based family childcare or the innovative development of a staffing agency co-operative, ECE REACH participants are working to serve our community; they are actively shaping and architecting futures.

ECE REACH’s successful outcomes during the pilot year have created additional funding opportunities. The program just received funding from the San Francisco Department of Early Childhood. Join us as we expand our horizons and unveil a world of endless possibilities. Together, with unwavering support from the Department of Early Childhood, we’re not just realizing employment; we’re creating hope.

If you would like to know more about ECE REACH (Early Care and Education, Realizing Employment And Creating Hope), please visit our program page, email us at ecereach@felton.org, or call (415) 282-1090 ext. 509.


Watch the Impact Unfold:


Felton Institute responds to the needs of our community by providing innovative, evidence-informed social services to transform lives. Our organization offers 50+ programs that address mental health, the unhoused, early care and education, those impacted by the justice system, transitional age youth, as well as aging adults. Our award-winning programs, which have been recognized as national models, combine the latest scientific research with cultural sensitivity and a deep commitment to supporting and reflecting the communities we serve.

Founded in 1889, Felton is the oldest secular non-profit social services provider in the City and County of San Francisco. We have expanded our services across most Bay Area counties and continue to be at the forefront of pioneering new approaches to meet the emerging needs of underserved populations.

We know what it looks like to successfully build community.

We foster impactful change by strengthening the community as a premiere service provider. We also strengthen other service providers by supporting them in their fiscal, human resources, communications, IT and overall agency operations. With Felton’s support, they are able to focus on providing the best services to their clients, doing the work they were meant to do.

Felton empowers the community and ensures successful outcomes to all we engage with.

Felton Institute is a tax-exempt organization registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit under EIN 94-1156530.