May 27, 2020

Saving for Your Child’s College Tuition

Saving for college isn’t impossible. All you need is a plan. The Pennsylvania 529 College and Career Savings Program two plans and many investment options that have helped over 205,000 families of all income levels answer one of their biggest financial concerns: how to afford college. Join the Pennsylvania 529 College and Career Savings Program for their webinar to learn more.


During the webinar, participants will learn about the following topics:

    • how you can save for college and save on your Pennsylvania income taxes;
    • how you can avoid paying any federal or state income taxes on your college savings growth;
    • how you can save for college with little impact on your chances for financial aid;
    • how you can save for a semester of college today and cover a semester in the future no matter when or how much tuition has increased; and
    • how saving can be made easy.


Webinar sessions are available on the dates listed below. Please use the links to navigate to the event’s registration pages.

More Information

For more information, please contact the PA 529 College and Career Savings Program at 800.440.4000 or


December 6, 2019

$20M in PAsmart Grants Available to Advance STEM and CS Education

On November 25, 2019, Governor Tom Wolf announced that “up to $20 million in PAsmart grants are available to prepare students for the fast-growing fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and computer science (CS).”


Governor Tom Wolf has secured $40 million dollars to reinforce his PAsmart initiative, an increase of $10 million from 2018 investments. With this, “the Department of Education will award $20 million for STEM and computer science education through PAsmart Targeted pre-k–12 grants and Advancing grants. The Department of Labor and Industry will soon announce applications for $10 million for apprenticeships and industry partnerships. Funding for career and technical education also increased by $10 million.”

Discussing this initiative, Governor Wolf said that “PAsmart is strategically investing in science and technology education so students get the skills they need for emerging jobs in high demand. The grants encourage businesses and schools to develop partnerships that focus education on the knowledge students will need to succeed in growing industries. Through PAsmart, we are developing the most prepared and talented workforce in the country, which will help students excel, grow the middle class, and strengthen the economy for everyone.”

Grant Details

PAsmart Targeted Pre-k–12 Grants

The initiative will be issuing PAsmart Targeted pre-k–12 grants of up to $35,000 each with the intention to “meet the needs of local education agencies and their schools that have limited to no computer science offerings and did not receive targeted grants in 2018-19.” By receiving these grants, schools have the opportunity to “introduce and expand computer science programming and to provide educators from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 with training and professional development to teach CS.” With this, the grants will provide “greater opportunities for students of color, low-income students, and girls to learn critical skills needed to succeed in today’s workforce.”

PAsmart Advancing Grants

A larger PAsmart Advancing grant of up to $500,000 each will also be available, with the intention to “support cross-sector partnerships that provide quality STEM and CS experiences to learners of all ages – early childhood, pre-k–12, post-secondary, and adult learners – as part of high-level strategic approaches to workforce readiness.”

Application Deadlines

    • PAsmart Targeted Pre-k–12 Grant: Friday, December 20, 2019
    • PAsmart Advancing Grant: Friday, January 10, 2020

Grant applications and additional information can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) website.

More Information

For more information, read the full press release.

*Information provided by the Office of Governor Tom Wolf


February 8, 2019

Start Strong PA Encouraged by Calls for Increased State Investments


Start Strong PA observed the 2019-20 PA budget as an important down payment to ensure all infants and toddlers learn, grow, and succeed. The following statement was issued by the ten principal partners leading Start Strong PA, a campaign to ensure that children across the state can access affordable, high-quality child care programs during the most critical period of brain development, the first three years of life:

Statement on the Budget

“We are pleased Governor Wolf’s budget provides a plan for spending $101 million in federal child care dollars that will help Pennsylvania families who need high-quality child care for their children to thrive. Given the essential role that high-quality child care has to support Pennsylvania’s working families, we urge Pennsylvania policymakers to explore all options to allocate additional state resources to address the critical needs of our state’s early childhood system that limit access and affordability.

Two elements of Governor Wolf’s budget proposal closely align with the campaign’s goals, including: a $15 million allocation to remove approximately 970 infants and toddlers from the subsidy waitlist and move them into programs that will elevate their potential; and a roughly $10 million allocation that will help to reinforce program stability and consistent staff-child relationships by increasing quality add-on rates for infants and toddlers by 28% for STAR 2, 3, and 4 programs.

In addition, the Governor’s proposal includes a $2 million allocation to support early childhood career pathways which acknowledges that children develop best when they have consistent teachers and relationships. The campaign believes this proposal will begin to address the significant need to attract and retain additional talented adults to become early childhood educators. Furthermore, an allocation of approximately $74 million would increase rates to support the move to a $12 per hour minimum wage in Pennsylvania.

The Governor’s proposals use federal Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) dollars. Start Strong PA campaign partners believe that these increased investments demonstrate the bipartisan support for ensuring our youngest children have what they need to thrive, while supporting the needs of our state’s workforce and education systems.” The Governor acknowledged the dual role of high-quality child care for children and families by saying, “We can get more kids off of waiting lists…and help more parents make their way into the workforce. Pennsylvania’s children deserve every chance to succeed.”

Reaction to the Governor’s Address

The importance of quality child care to the Commonwealth’s workforce was also raised by Senator Joe Scarnati in his reaction to the Governor’s address saying, “we have to focus on the families and we have to focus on their problems that stop them from getting to work.” Start Strong PA is urging the Pennsylvania General Assembly to build on the proposed federal allocations, and invest additional state dollars to support the positive brain development of all infants and toddlers by addressing access and affordability issues.

What Does Start Strong PA Support?

Specifically, Start Strong PA supports:

1. Increased reimbursement rates for the highest quality STAR 3 and 4 programs serving infants and

toddlers to the full cost of quality;

2. Increased investments to support more STAR 2 providers to move to STAR 3 and 4 thereby increasing

high-quality capacity;

3. Increased investments in the child care workforce by adding slots for Rising STARS Tuition

Assistance and T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarships, fully funding Education and Retention

Awards, and conducting a child care labor market survey.

“Our state is at a critical moment for determining the future of infants and toddlers in Pennsylvania. Legislators must build on last year’s momentum that acknowledges the role of state funds in our early childhood system. We call on legislators to use this year’s state budget to foster a better future for all children by providing them a solid educational foundation through access to high-quality child care that their families can afford.”

Budget Details

The 2019-20 proposed budget includes the following expanded investments to early learning:

● Allocation of $101 million in federal child care funds;

Increase in Pre-K Counts investment: $40 million;

Increase in Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program investment: $10 million;

● Increase in state funds for evidence-based home visiting: $5 million.

Start Strong PA is an initiative of Early Learning PA (ELPA), a statewide coalition of advocates focused on supporting young Pennsylvanians birth to age five (5). ELPA also advocates for expanding publicly funded Home Visiting services via the Childhood Begins at Home Campaign and access to high-quality, publicly funded pre-k for income eligible children via the Pre-K for PA Campaign.

What is Start Strong PA?

Start Strong PA is an initiative of Early Learning PA. Through a statewide collaboration of partners, Start Strong PA aims to support healthy child development, working families, and the economy by increasing access to and affordability of high-quality child care programs for young children. Learn more at


Fight Crime: Invest in Kids | First Up | Mission: Readiness | Pennsylvania Association for The Education of Young Children | Pennsylvania Child Care Association | Pennsylvania Head Start Association | Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children | Public Citizens for Children and Youth | The United Way of Pennsylvania | Trying Together



October 2, 2018

Thank Congress for Increased CCDBG Funding

The U.S Senate and House of Representatives voted in favor of a Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Defense 2019 spending bill. This measure not only maintains the historic increase in funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) in 2018 but includes a $50 million increase! The legislation also includes support for other critical early care and education programs. On September 28, the President signed the bill into law.

Why Does It Matter?

With increased funding for the 2018 federal fiscal year, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning is able to lift the rate freeze for STAR 1 and 2 providers and increase base rates for all providers by two percent. In addition, the funding will support a pilot to contract for quality slots for infants and toddlers participating in the subsidy program and will further support professional development for child care teachers. The continued support and increase of this line item is critical for Pennsylvania to improve access to high-quality care for children.

Take Action

Please join us in thanking our members of Congress for understanding the importance of early care and education investments for our youngest children!


September 19, 2018

#PAbudget Funded Pre-K Expansions Recognized Locally

Policymakers from Butler and Westmoreland Counties joined Trying Together and other early-childhood advocates this week to celebrate a new pre-k grantee classroom and pre-k classroom expansion respectively. Both were made possible by the increased investment of $25 million for pre-kindergarten funding in the final 2018-19 state budget. To read more about both, see the articles below.


Ceremony Marks Expansion of Local Pre-K Programs (sharing via Butler Radio)

Advocates tout early education gains (sharing via Butler Eagle)

State grants bolster pre-kindergarten programs in Westmoreland County (sharing via Westmoreland Tribune-Review)

Statewide Voter Support

A poll commissioned by the Pre-K for PA campaign done by Harper Polling in May showed 75 percent of likely voters support increasing funding to expand access to high-quality, publicly funded pre-kindergarten, while 94 percent of voters believe that early education is important.

A large body of research shows that children who attend high-quality preschool:

  • Enter kindergarten with stronger literacy, language, math and social/emotional skills
  • Are less likely to need special education services, less likely to repeat grades, and more likely to graduate and enroll in college
  • Over a lifetime, these young learners will see stronger employment opportunities and increased earning potential
  • Are less likely to commit juvenile and adult crimes.

Still, more than 106,000 eligible children do not have access to high-quality, publicly funded pre-k due to limited state funding. This new classroom made possible by new state funding is a step in the right direction, but there is still much work to be done.

Pre-K for PA is an issue campaign supported by individuals and organizations across Pennsylvania who believe that investing in our children is the right choice and an urgent necessity. Our vision is that every 3- and 4-year-old in Pennsylvania will have access to high-quality pre-k. We will not endorse nor oppose candidates, but rather we will advocate on behalf of this vision for Pennsylvania’s children, schools and communities. For more information


June 25, 2018

$25MIL Increase for Pre-K Classes

Leaders in Harrisburg recently aproved a $25 million investment in pre-k programs in the 2018-19 Pennsylvania state budget.

As part of the budget agreement, Governor Wolf, along with Republican and Democrat legislators made a wise investment in Pennsylvania’s early education system and prioritized the state’s youngest learners. While the 2018-19 Pennsylvania state budget grew by just 1.7%, leaders in Harrisburg grew high-quality pre-k funding by 11%, high-quality child care services grew by 4%, and home visiting by an impressive, and much needed, 33%.

The 2018-19 spending plan included the following expanded investments in early learning:

  • Increases in Pre-K Counts investment: $20 million
  • Increases investment in Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program: $5 million
  • Increases investment in Child Care Services: $6.8 million
  • New investment in home visiting programs: $6.735 million

Still more than 106,000 eligible children do not have access to high-quality, publicly funded pre-k due to limited state funding. This budget increase will allow access to thousands of 3- and 4-year-old students in the upcoming school year. It is a step in the right direction, but we still have much work to be done as Pennsylvania lags far behind neighboring states. Today, Pennsylvania ranks 18th of the 30 states investing in high-quality, publicly funded pre-k. New Jersey is spending five times more per capita than PA, and West Virginia has had universal access for pre-k aged kids since 2012.

This year’s budget is testament to the fact that Governor Wolf, along with Republican and Democrat legislators, understand their constituents’ priorities.