Dr. Foram Bhukhanwala Receives $630K Grant to Expand Apprenticeships in Early Childhood Education Program

May 16, 2022 Daniel DiPrinzio

Associate Professor of Education and Director of the Early Childhood Education Program Dr. Foram Bhukhanwala has been awarded a PAsmart Grant of $632,258 to expand apprenticeships opportunities in the undergraduate PreK-4 Program. The grant, from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, Bureau of Workforce Development Administration, supports the PreK-4 Registered Apprenticeship Program. 

Arcadia will use the funding to enroll and train 12 new registered apprentices, with targeted recruiting of individuals from marginalized groups, such as people of color and socio-economically disadvantaged communities. The program will also expand regional outreach and provide new academic supports, including preparation for basic skills tests, laptops, and financial support to mitigate housing and food insecurities and child care costs and provide tuition scholarships.

As a state-registered program, the apprenticeship program allows apprentices to complete their bachelor’s degree requirement at Arcadia through the Working Professionals program. Apprentices transfer to the University after earning an Associate in Arts degree from a community college and matriculate to complete their bachelor’s degree. In addition, apprentices complete their on-the-job learning competencies at their place of employment. Each apprentice has an on-site coach who supports their learning on the job. As apprentices achieve milestones in their program, they receive a wage increase at their place of employment.

The early childhood workforce is typically a non-traditional student population: Often they’re women from marginalized populations, such as persons of color or linguistically diverse or first generation-college students. For many, their educational journeys are filled with significant barriers, such as trying to work an hourly wage job while incurring high college debt, or starting and stopping their degrees. 

The grant is among awards totaling more than $11 million for 26 apprenticeship programs that will help Pennsylvania workers to “earn while they learn” and support businesses in building a pipeline of talent for occupations in fields including agriculture, manufacturing, health care, IT, education, human services, and building trades.

This is a renewal grant. The first grant was awarded in 2018 for $150,000 to launch the Apprenticeship program pathway. Five apprentices from the pilot cohort graduated in May 2021, each with a bachelor degree in Education. Last year, Dr. Bhukhanwala received a PAsmart Grant of $212,500.


In photo, from left to right: Dr. Priscilla Jeter-Iles (Director, Field Experiences and Outreach); Maria Cabrera ’22 and Briana Anastasia ’21, from the apprenticeship program; Amy Gavaghan, program director of Dumpling Grounds; Maisha Jackson, from Sen. Haywood's office; PA State Representative Napoleon Nelson; PA Dept. of Labor Sec. Jennifer Berrier; Dr. John Noakes (Interim Dean of the School of Ed.); PA State Representative Michael Driscoll; Dr. Jodi Bornstein (Associate Professor of Ed.); Dr. Kathy Trainor (Coordinator of Early Childhood Education Fieldwork and Adjunct Professor of Education); and Dr. Foram Bhukhanwala (Associate professor / Program Director, School of Ed.).