CSULB Receives $11M Gift to Credential Teachers

Daniel Pineda

In 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that, by 2025, nearly 400,000 4-year-old children in California would be enrolled in an additional year of public education called Transitional Kindergarten (TK), which aims to give young children better preparation for school success.

And on Aug. 23, California State University, Long Beach announced that it has received an $11 million gift from Ballmer Group, a transformational investment that will enable the university to join California’s commitment to universal preschool and professionalizing the early childcare workforce.

“We are excited to partner with Ballmer Group in preparing teachers for high-quality prekindergarten to all 4-year-old children in the State of California,” said Anna Ortiz, dean of the College of Education at CSULB. “The gift will enable us to provide meaningful financial support to current early childhood educators, so they are ready to enter our elementary schools. It also offers a pathway for the excellent employment opportunities our public schools provide. The gift will also support the development of the PK-3 credential, giving all students at CSULB an additional career option in education. We are grateful for Ballmer’s generous support.”

According to an official statement from CSULB, the majority of the grant’s funds will be used to support scholarships for students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in child development or for elementary-credentialed teachers focused on teaching pre-kindergarten. The rest will go toward developing the PK-3 (ECE) Specialist Instruction Credential, which will include advising and recruiting new and current student educators, creating an infrastructure in the College of Education, and creating partnerships with local school districts and community colleges.

To Anna Ortiz, ECE programs like the one at CSULB are an essential piece to not just young students, but to educators as well – as they provide the benefit of elevating the field of early childhood education, the lowest-paid sector in education.

“Creating a pathway for early childhood educators to access the benefits of working as public-school teachers allows access to increased salaries, enhanced benefits and job security,” said Ortiz.

In addition to gifting CSULB, Ballmer Group also granted $22 million for Cal State Dominguez Hills in support of similar programs. Ballmer Group, in partnership with CSULB and CSUDH, will also be leading the way to close the early childhood teacher gap through the development of PK-3 early childhood teachers, who are culturally competent and racially diverse, and placing them across L.A. County.

Ballmer Group leaders have stated they are excited for this unique partnership of government and philanthropy to increase the number of credentialed early childhood teachers who will gain opportunities for better jobs and children who will be taught by educators who share their cultural and lived experiences.

“Early education is a game-changer for giving kids a fair shot in school and life,” said Kim Brownson, director of Strategy and Policy at Ballmer Group in a statement. “Teachers are vital to this work, and CSUDH and CSULB will now be able to support LA’s future early educators through scholarships, degree programs and partnerships to support our children’s learning.”

According to CSULB President Jane Close Conoley, the grant given by the Ballmer Group also supports The Beach’s objective of shaping California’s future workforce, one of the priorities of the university’s No Barriers comprehensive fundraising campaign.

“Cal State Long Beach is grateful for the generous support of Ballmer Group,” Conoley said. “Through their acknowledgement of our efforts, we will be able to prepare a critical mass of high-quality, credentialed early childhood teachers.

Conoley continued: “This funding will allow us to lay the foundation for the academic success of early learners entering our public schools, professionalize the work of early childhood educators and diversify the region’s pool of teachers. Thanks to Ballmer Group, CSULB will play a vital role in meeting the urgent need for credentialed prekindergarten teachers.”

Anna Ortiz also stated that it is the first time CSULB’s College of Education will be working with the Ballmer Group, and that the college is hoping that the success in working with the multi-year program will encourage the Ballmer Group to consider the College of Education for future projects and programs.

For more information on the Ballmer Group, you can visit their official website at https://www.ballmergroup.org/. Information on CSULB’s Early Childhood Education Program can be found at https://www.csulb.edu/college-of-education/early-childhood-education.

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