March 29, 2019

Pittsburgh Spotlight Receives 82 Innovation Submissions

After receiving a total of 82 submissions from southwestern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia schools, museums, libraries, nonprofits, government agencies, and more, HundrED released a full list of the innovative submissions they received.

Submissions included:

  • Innovative approaches from 27 schools and school districts in the Pittsburgh region
  • 9 technology tools to facilitate learning developed by local companies and research projects
  • 8 projects of local colleges and universities, including innovations from the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and Penn State University
  • 31 programs and approaches from local museums, nonprofits, and community centers

Our Highlight

Listed as a submission, Message from Me (MfM) is an early childhood communications tool developed through the collaborative efforts of the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) CREATE Lab and Trying Together. MfM was designed with the intention to involve families in the education experience and bridge the home-school connection while enhancing a child’s communication skills, independence, and opportunities for interaction. Using the MfM app, a child can record and share daily thoughts and experiences, impacting his or her feelings of individuality, self-confidence, and well-being.

To learn more about MfM’s purpose, design, and impact, visit the HundrEd page.

See the full list of submissions.

What’s Next?

HundrEd’s global research team will be running a rigorous review of all eligible applications, in addition to a review by a local committee consisting of educators, parents, students, researchers, and community stakeholders who will score each innovation to help decide which ones will be featured in the Spotlight collection. Following this review period, the 10 selected innovations will be announced in May as a part of Remake Learning Days, a regional celebration of the future of learning.

About the Pittsburgh Spotlight

HundrED is a not-for-profit organization that researches, highlights, and propels K-12 education innovations in an effort to improve education and inspire a grassroots movement by encouraging pedagogically sound, ambitious inventions to spread across the world. The Pittsburgh Spotlight is one of 6 individual spotlight categories, all centered around specific regions or topics. Through this spotlight, HundrED seeks to highlight educators and innovators in our area that are doing extraordinary things to help students.

*Information provided by HundrED


March 27, 2019

P.R.I.D.E. Seeks Early Educators & Artists for Upcoming Art Festivals

Recently, the Positive Racial Identity Development in Early Education program (P.R.I.D.E.) announced a call for submissions to Pittsburgh-based early childhood educators and Africana artists for the P.R.I.D.E. Pop Up Mini Art Festivals.

About the Festivals

Modeled after children’s activities offered during the popular Harambee || Black Arts Festivals, P.R.I.D.E. Pop Ups are small, half-day, outdoor art festivals hosted in three Pittsburgh communities: East Liberty, Homewood, and the Hill District. At the festivals, artists and educators engage young children (ages 3 to 8) and their families in hands-on activities. The goal is for adults to use art activities to teach children about their race and culture while building their positive racial identity.

To see important dates and learn more, visit the P.R.I.D.E. website.

Who Can Apply

This call for submissions is open to early educators teaching grades Pre-K to 3rd grade and Africana artists working in the following disciplines: Literature, Performing Arts, Visual Arts & Crafts, and/or Multidisciplinary Arts. Applications are open to early childhood educators from all neighborhoods, schools, and child care settings, including public, private, charter, etc. Educators working in East Liberty, Homewood, and Hill District schools/settings are highly encouraged to apply.

Participating educators and artists will receive the following compensation:

  • Educator and Artist Cross-Training Compensation: $275
  • Educator and Artist Festival Participation Compensation: $260 per event ($780 total)
  • End-of-Project Focus Group Participation Compensation: $25
  • Artist Material Stipend: $400

Application & Deadlines

If you’re interested in applying or signing up as a volunteer, please visit the P.R.I.D.E. website.

All applications must be submitted by Friday, April 5 at 11:59 p.m.

About P.R.I.D.E.

As a part of the University of Pittsburgh School of Education’s Office of Child Development, P.R.I.D.E. is a multifaceted program designed to help young African American children (ages 3 to 8) develop a positive racial identity, support teachers and parents by building their racial knowledge, and raise awareness of the impact of race on young children. The program provides a range of services, such as training opportunities for educators and artists, Parent Village sessions for Black children, and art festivals created to immerse young Black children in a space designed to celebrate them.

See the P.R.I.D.E. Pop Up Mini Art Festivals flyer. 

*Information provided by the P.R.I.D.E. Program


March 19, 2019

Some Pittsburgh Residents May Register for Free Lead Water Line Replacement


Pittsburgh residents who have lead water lines and meet income guidelines can have their pipes replaced for free. Pipes may be replaced through a Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority program administered by the Dollar Energy Fund.


PWSA has $1.8 million set aside for the program. Consequently, they must spend the money before November 2021. The money must be spent due to an agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The DEP in 2017 fined the authority $2.4 million after it failed to report a change in water treatment chemicals to state regulators. DEP and PWSA negotiated a settlement whereby $1.8 million was returned to the city for lead line replacements.

The authority so far has replaced 18 water lines through the program and estimates the $1.8 million can pay for a total of 200 lines. A family of four earning no more $61,500 per year would qualify. Officials said they are certain eligible customers have failed to apply. “I don’t know what the reason for that would be,” said Paul Leger, who chairs the PWSA board of directors. “It’s not complicated. If you hit the income line, you just go to Dollar Energy Fund and you’re in.”


To apply, residents can call PWSA at (866) 762-2348. Representatives at Dollar Energy will verify income eligibility and PWSA will schedule a time for replacement after confirming the home has a lead water line.


PWSA spokesman Will Pickering noted that PWSA sewer customers who receive their water through the Pennsylvania American Water Co. are not eligible. The program is unrelated to PWSA’s $40 million lead program, in which it will replace a homeowner’s private line for free while replacing lead lines in the street that are owned by the authority, Pickering said.

PWSA has struggled since 2016 to reduce lead levels in water that exceeded a federal threshold of 15 parts per billion. The most recent test results released in January indicated lead levels of 20 ppb from July to December. The authority is addressing the problem by replacing all lead waterlines in its service area, which includes about 300,000 people in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area, and by adding the anti-corrosion chemical orthophosphate to water. Since 2016, PWSA has replaced more than 2,825 waterlines. It plans to replace up to 3,400 lead lead lines this year.


March 13, 2019

Child Care Becoming More Unaffordable for Low-Income Parents


A recent research brief, Child Care Affordability for Working Parents, from the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, finds that many U.S. parents who are highly attached to the labor force would have a difficult time purchasing full-time center-based care.


This finding is especially true for low-income, Hispanic and black parents. Overall, parents working full time and year-round would spend 10 percent of family income to send their children to full-time center-based child care; low-income parents working full time and year-round would spend 28 percent. Almost all low-income parents working full time and year round would have to spend more than the federal affordability benchmark of 7 percent to send their children to full-time center-based child care.


According to the brief, Pennsylvania ranks fifth highest nationally in child care price to income ratios for low-income parents, and in fourth highest for Hispanic parents.


Even for families with a parent working a full-time year-round job, full-time center-based child care for young children and care during the school year for school-age children is largely unaffordable. Importantly, the parents included in this analysis are those with a clear need for child care.

This analysis has three key findings about the affordability of center-based care for working parents. First, market-price full-time center-based care would be difficult to afford for a majority of U.S. working parents. Second, center-based child care presents an even greater financial burden for low-income working parents – virtually all (95%) low-income full-time year-round working parents face unaffordable child care costs. Finally, because larger proportions of working black and Hispanic parents earn low incomes than working white and Asian/Pacific Islander parents, child care affordability issues disproportionately affect black and Hispanic working families. This disproportionate burden has the potential to exacerbate racial/ethnic disparities in both family economic security and child wellbeing.

Read the full research brief here


March 11, 2019

New Study on Maternity Leave Unveiled


A new study in the International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy finds a direct link between length of maternity leave and quality of mother-child interactions. The study: The Role of Length of Maternity Leave in Supporting Mother-Child Interactions and Attachment Security Among American Mothers and Their Infants suggests these results have implications for the development of family policies that support the needs of infants and mothers during the first months of life.


The implementation of comprehensive and universal maternity leave policy can complement child care policies. Both quality child care and maternity leave policies constitute solutions to similar needs. The results of this study support the need for parents to have the opportunity to choose to take maternity before infants enter child care. While quality child care can result in positive developmental outcomes for the infants, maternity leave can ensure that mothers have time off from work. This way, maternity leave can give mothers the opportunity to spend time with their infants, engage in positive and stress-free interactions, and learn to read a child’s cues before they negotiate the stress of balancing parenting and work. Ultimately, a combination of comprehensive maternity leave and child care policies will give each family the opportunity to have some choice in timing and combination of work, leave, and child care.

Read the complete study here.


March 8, 2019

PA’s Program Reach and Risk Assessment Report Released


Children in 40 Pennsylvania counties (60 percent) are at moderate-high or high-risk of low academic performance. This is according to the recent release of the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning Program Reach and Risk Assessment State of Fiscal Year 2016-2017

As a result, OCDEL annually creates its Program Reach and Risk Assessment Report. This report offers information on the level of risk for school failure for children (based on 16 risk factors). It also offers information on the availability, or reach, of most OCDEL programs to children in each county and school district in Pennsylvania. Consequently, the Reach and Risk Report includes data for all children under age five. It also provides a breakdown of program reach by infants/toddlers (birth – two years) and preschool (ages three and four).

Report Breakdown

Highlights within the report include:

  • One-third (34 percent) of children under age five participate in state and/or federally-funded quality early care and education programs in Pennsylvania.
  • Of all state-funded programs, the most children are reached through the Keystone STARS program. This program provides services to an estimated 14 percent of children from birth to age five. 
  • Approximately one-fourth (24 percent) of Pennsylvania’s infants and toddlers (birth to age two) participate in publicly-funded quality early care and education programs.
  • Almost half (49 percent) of Pennsylvania’s preschoolers are served in state and/or federally funded quality early care and education programs.

Full Report

To read the full report and access county and school-based specific information, visit the PA Key website


March 7, 2019

2019 National Survey of Early Care and Education Underway


Data collection for the 2019 National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) has begun. The Administration for Children & Families, Office of Child Care is now collecting new, nationally representative information about all parts of early care and education and families’ needs for ECE services, including child care, Early Head Start and Head Start, and pre-k programs. 


A key aim of the 2019 surveys is to provide updated profiles of individuals and programs providing ECE and to describe ECE use in households across the United States. This information provides a more representative sample that will better inform future policy and research. All data provided by households and providers will be used only for statistical purposes, and the identities of individuals and programs will not be disclosed.


The Administration for Children and Families has contracted with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago to conduct the 2019 NSECE. NORC has sent mailings to selected providers and households throughout the country, inviting them to participate in the study. We are writing you to ask your support for this critical data collection effort. If you are contacted by providers, households, teachers and caregivers, or other members of the public, please emphasize and reassure those individuals that the 2019 NSECE is a legitimate and vital effort for our programs and our ability to help all children get access to high-quality ECE programs.

Learn More

Read more about the survey and access findings from the 2012 survey.


March 5, 2019

Kindergarten Registration Open in Allegheny County

If your child is five, it’s time. Kindergarten registration has opened in Allegheny County for the 2019-2020 school year. View details on Kindergarten registration costs, locations, and dates at trying


Hi5! Campaign

Successful transition practices help school districts identify and work with early care and education providers in their community to support young children and their families so they are comfortable and prepared for the first day of Kindergarten. Through a partnership called Hi5!, Trying Together, United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and Allegheny Intermediate Unit 3 (AIU3) work with over 40 local school districts. Due to these efforts, Kindergarten registration rates have improved to a 97% early or on-time registration rate for Allegheny County children as reported for the 2017 – 2018 school year.


Learn More

Learn more about Kindergarten Transition with this white paper from Trying Together (PDF). For questions, contact Emily Neff at 412.421.3889 or


March 4, 2019

Month of The Young Child Events Announced

Throughout April, early childhood nonprofit Trying Together will host and highlight local events in celebration of the Month of the Young Child (MOYC). Held annually in April, MOYC is a month-long celebration in recognition of the important role that early childhood care and education play in the lives of children and families.

“While we designate April as the time of year when we formally recognize early care and education professionals and family caregivers with special events, we want them to know we value them for the important work they do everyday to support healthy development for the young children the care for and educate,” said Cara Ciminillo, Executive Director of Trying Together.

MOYC Organization Event Submissions

New this year, local nonprofits hosting events for young children in April are invited to submit details to Trying Together for inclusion in promotions. Organizations interested in submitting their events must meet the following requirements:

  • The event is hosted in April
  • The event is open to the public
  • The event features opportunities for young children (birth – nine), explores early childhood topics, or provides professional development opportunities for early childhood educators, families, and/or professionals

To submit your events, visit For questions on applying, contact Maria Pisano at 412.421.3889 or

Annual Celebration Dinner

On Thursday, April 4 from 5:00 – 7:30 p.m., Trying Together will host its their Annual Celebration Dinner at the Carnegie Museum of Art. This event, featuring keynote speaker Illah Nourbakhsh, CMU CREATE Lab Director of the Community Robotics, Education, and Technology Empowerment, will bring together local early childhood care and education professionals in celebration of the work they do to support Pennsylvania’s youngest generation. Guests will enjoy a dinner buffet, photo booth, prizes, and more. Tickets are currently available online for $12 per person, or $100 for a Director’s Table, at



This year’s Annual Celebration Dinner is officially sold-out! If you still require a ticket, Trying Together may be able to accommodate the request. Please contact Sharon Seitam at 412.421.3889 or


The Student Affiliate Dinner

On Thursday, April 11 from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m., Carlow at Greensburg and Westmoreland County Community College (WCCC) will host the 9th Annual Student Affiliate Dinner at WCCC to celebrate local early childhood education students and community. Featuring keynote speaker Dr. Melissa Sherfinski, the conversation will explore how educators can empower students through equitable practices. Register for The Student Affiliate Dinner by Wednesday, April 3 at 4:30 p.m.

For questions about The Student Affiliate Dinner, contact Vicki Hricik at 724.925.4013 or

The Homewood Block Party

On Saturday, April 27 from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Trying Together, the Homewood Early Learning Hub, and Homewood-Brushton Family Support Center will host their annual Homewood Block Party on Kelly Street. Young children and their families are invited to enjoy an afternoon of free activities, food, performance, and information from local partners about the work they do. No registration is required.

For questions or more information, contact Rosie Hogan at