May 14, 2020

Virtual UnConference: Re-Opening to Our ‘New Normal’


Virtual UnConference: Re-Opening to Our ‘New Normal’

Join Trying Together on May 26 for our first virtual UnConference as we dive into topics that are relevant to child care centers as they begin to re-open to a ‘new normal’ due to the effects of COVID-19. A recording of this event will be available for those who are unable to attend.

UnConference Details

We are facing a “new normal” in our field that has never been envisioned before. COVID-19 has taken our state, our country, and our world on a tumultuous journey, invoking fear, anxiety, reflection, and change-making at unprecedented levels. As an early childhood educator, you are most likely thinking about how to continue supporting children and families while maintaining high-quality programming, business operations, and personal health for both you and your colleagues.

This free three-hour online UnConference will help you virtually connect with other educators while gaining information about the steps you can take to prepare for and respond to the effects of COVID-19 on early childhood programming. Three PQAS and Act 48 hours available.


UnConference: Re-Opening to Our ‘New Normal’ will be hosted via Zoom. It begins with a “rapid-fire” keynote by four speakers, featuring Michelle Figlar of The Heinz Endowments, LaTrenda Leonard Sherrill of LaTrenda Consulting (and Board Member of Trying Together), Muffy Mendoza of Brown Mamas, and mental health expert Diana Schwab.

The keynote is followed by two workshops. Participants can choose from the following:

    • Coping with COVID – HR Thoughts and Tips for Child Care Centers,
    • Building Community and Connection with Digital Technologies,
    • How to Stay Healthy and Provide Safe Child Care During COVID-19, and
    • Everyday Interactions Matter: Noticing the Simple and Ordinary

Course Objectives

Through successful participation and completion of the UnConference, participants will:

    • become familiar with regional, state, and national resources to support child care programs in response to COVID-19;
    • gain appropriate strategies recommended for caring for young children and families in response to COVID-19, including health and safety practices and innovative ECE practices (social-emotional learning);
    • discuss appropriate strategies for supporting the early education workforce in response to COVID-19; and
    • learn how to create authentic connections with families and community members using digital tools.


Each session will have its own Zoom link which will be provided to you upon registration. Upon completion of the UnConference, three hours of accredited professional development will be given.

1:00 – 1:30 p.m.: “Rapid Fire” Keynote featuring Michelle Figlar, LaTrenda Leonard Sherrill, Muffy Mendoza, and Diana Schwab

1:45 – 3:00 p.m.: Workshop #1 (choose between two options)

3:15 – 4:30 p.m.: Workshop #2 (choose between two options)

Available Workshops

There are four workshops provided for this UnConference. Two options are available between 1:45 – 3:00 p.m. and two other options are available between 3:15 – 4:30 p.m. View the list of workshops for the Virtual UnConference: Re-Opening to Our ‘New Normal’.


This virtual UnConference is free. Participants must pre-register for the UnConference by 3 p.m. on Monday, May 25 in order to receive links to each session via email. Visit the event page to register and learn more.

How to Virtually Attend

The sessions will be hosted using the web-based video conferencing platform Zoom. Please download Zoom prior to the UnConference to your device of choice. We will send you a Zoom link for the keynote as well as a Zoom link for each workshop based on what you select. A recording of this event will be available for those who are unable to attend.

How to Receive Credit

Three PQAS and Act 48 hours will be available. Participants must attend the UnConference and complete the survey at the end of each session (keynote and two workshops) in order to receive credit. Once completed, Jasmine Davis, Professional Learning Program Manager at Trying Together, will process your credit. If you have questions specific to receiving credit for coursework, please email Jasmine at

More Information

For questions, please contact UnConference Director, Yu-Ling Cheng, at


January 27, 2020

Take Action to Support Infants and Toddlers in Pennsylvania

Are you interested in advocating to increase access to and the affordability of child care for infants and toddlers in Pennsylvania? Take action by completing Start Strong PA’s current advocacy ask!


In December 2019, a campaign for high-quality child care in Pennsylvania called Start Strong PA delivered a New Year’s resolution photo frame to every member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The frames included a spot for a photo, a place for their signature, and the following resolution:

In 2020, I resolve that all children deserve to start strong.
I will support the healthy development of all Pennsylvania’s infants and toddlers by fighting for greater access to high-quality child care.

Now, Start Strong PA is encouraging the General Assembly to take a picture with the signed photo frame and share it across their social media platforms. However, Start Strong PA needs your help! Throughout January, the campaign is asking Pennsylvania families and caregivers to send in photos of their infants and toddlers to place inside the frames. Will you reinforce Start Strong PA’s mission to increase access to and the affordability of high-quality infant/toddler early learning programs?

How You Can Help

To send in a photo, complete the following steps:

    • Find your Senator or Representative by visiting:
    • Type in your address and press search.
    • You will be given links to your Pennsylvania House and Senate members.
    • Click on the link (their name) and you will be sent to their website. On the left-hand side, you can find their Harrisburg office address.
    • Place the 4 x 6 photo(s) and a message that says “Make me your New Year’s resolution!” in an envelope, add postage, and mail to their Harrisburg office.

Looking to go a step further? Send your Senator and Representative a reminder as well by completing a pre-filled form on our Take Action page!

More Information

For questions or to send your picture to Start Strong PA, email


October 17, 2019

SharedSource Pennsylvania Launches Revamped Website

In October 2019, SharedSource Pennsylvania launched its revamped website, featuring a new layout and at least 74 new resources!


SharedSource Pennsylvania is “a partnership of Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children (PennAEYC), Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children (DVAEYC), Trying Together, and Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC). The alliance promotes shared learning, efficient use of resources and quality improvement in ECE programs across the Commonwealth.”

New Resources

During the launch, SharedSource Pennsylvania highlighted a list of some of its newest resources. With 30 available in Spanish, the resources cover topics including:

    • admin tools;
    • family handbooks;
    • budget planning and preparation;
    • understanding, building, and using business credit;
    • budget tools,
    • marketing your program,
    • family tours,
    • and phone best practices.

Visit the website to see the full list.

More Information

To learn more about SharedSource Pennsylvania, visit their website.


October 15, 2019

Community Baby Shower

Community members are invited to join the Office of State Senator Lindsey M. Williams on October 17 for Community Baby Shower.


The Community Baby Shower event is a resource fair for expecting parents, new parents, grandparents, foster parents, and guardians. By attending, participants will:

    • meet Senator Williams and her staff;
    • enjoy presentations by Cribs for Kids, Dollar Bank, ELRC, and the PA 529 College and Career Saving Program;
    • talk to organizations and entities, including Trying Together, the Allegheny County Health Department, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, East Liberty Famly Health Care Center, Safe Kids Allegheny County, Jeremiah’s Place, 211, Pittsburgh Fire Department, and more!

See the presentation schedule.


Admission is free, but space is limited. To register, visit the event website or call 412.364.0469

More Information

For more information, call the Office of State Senator Lindsey M. Williams at 412.364.0469.

Share this flyer with your network.


September 27, 2019

Kindergarten Transition Strategies Highlighted in New Briefs


New America reported that in the 2019-20 school year, “approximately four million children will start kindergarten.” This period of early learning is critical, as research shows that access to high-quality early education increases children’s likelihood of going to college, saving for retirement, and living in wealthier neighborhoods.

Recognizing the need for better support, New America released two briefs highlighting opportunities for states, local education agencies (LEAs), and elementary schools to strengthen pre-k to kindergarten transitions and fund transition activities.

Moving into Kindergarten

Their first brief, Moving into Kindergarten: How Schools and Districts are Connecting the Steps for Children and Families, highlights actions that schools and districts can take to help ensure a smooth and stress-free transition into kindergarten for children and their caregivers. The highlighted approaches are currently taking place in districts across the country, with a range of models included to ensure an appropriate method based on a district’s current state of development.

Highlighted methods include:

    • increased data sharing between child care, pre-k programs, and kindergarten
    • professional development and planning across grades (more specifically, formal activities that bring adults together across childcare, pre-k, and kindergarten)
    • a focus on family engagement that emphasizes the importance of involvement in education, extends beyond a one-time activity and takes place prior to the start of kindergarten
    • activities for incoming kindergarten students that go beyond one-time events (such as a classroom visit) and prioritize students without access to pre-k

To read the full brief, visit the New America website.

Using Local, State, and Federal Dollars to Improve Pre-K to Kindergarten Transitions

New America’s second brief, Using Local, State, and Federal Dollars to Improve Pre-K to K Transitions, highlights the importance of a seamless transition between early learning programs and grade levels as well as effective policies and practices. With this, New American mentions that “there are a number of federal and state programs and other funding opportunities that can help support state and local efforts to improve pre-k to kindergarten transitions and alignment.”

Serving as a resource for state and local leaders, the brief examines:

    • Child Care & Development Block Grant (CCDBG)
    • Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
    • Head Start Act
    • Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV)
    • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
    • Preschool Development Grant, Birth through Five (PDG B-5)
    • Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC)
    • Other Sources

Following this, the brief provides action recommendations for states, local education agencies, and elementary schools. Visit the New America website to learn more.

Local Initiatives

Are you interested in learning about the local pre-k and kindergarten landscape? Check out these initiatives:

    • Hi5 ensures that young children are school ready and promotes the importance of on-time kindergarten registration. Over the past seven years, this program has helped Allegheny County schools reach an impressive on-time kindergarten registration rate of 96 percent. To learn more, visit the Hi5 webpage.

Learn More

For more information, contact New America at 202.986.2700 or

*Information provided by New America


July 15, 2019

Learning Power: Examining the Future of Education

Join New America, the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project, and the CREATE Lab on July 24 for a stimulating afternoon of sharing and conversation about the future of education.


Community members and organizations are invited to share their unique questions and concerns regarding artificial intelligence, personalized learning, and other automation in their teaching and learning context. All people and perspectives are welcome.

The event will feature Professor Nicole Mirra and others, including special guests from YMCA LighthouseTeenBloc A+ Schools, and Steeltown Entertainment, to exchange learnings from the many projects across the Pittsburgh area that combine technology and humanities approaches to learning.

Featured Participants

    • Kristina Ishmael
      Senior Project Manager, Teaching, Learning, and Tech Program, New America
    • Nicole Mirra
      Assistant Professor of Urban Teacher Educattion, Rutgers University
      Author, Educating for Empathy: Literacy Learning and Civic Engagement
    • Laura Roop
      Director, Western Pennsylvania Writing Project


To register for this event, visit the RSVP page.

Learn More

This event is part of a larger Connected Conversations series produced by New America with communities in and around Pittsburgh, Southwestern Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, in partnership with Remake Learning and other local organizations. See New America’s event page to learn more.


July 3, 2019

Adjusted WIC Income Guidelines Effective Starting July 1

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that starting July 1, 2019, adjusted income eligibility guidelines will be used to determine the income eligibility of persons applying to participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

About Income Guidelines

Income eligibility for the WIC Program is determined using income standards as prescribed under section 9(b) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act. The income limit is 185 percent of the Federal poverty guidelines, as adjusted. Section 9(b) also requires that these guidelines be revised annually to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index.

The annual revision for 2019 was published by the Department of Health and Human Services on February 1, 2019. In accordance with the established income guidance, the revised WIC income eligibility guidelines are to be used in conjunction with WIC regulations.

See the Revised Guidelines

Click here to view the revised WIC Income Guidelines.

More Information

To learn more, visit the Pennsylvania WIC website or call 412.350.5801.

*Information provided by the USDA


December 6, 2018

100,000 Books Campaign: Free Book Fair

United Way’s 100,000 Books initiative is giving away new and gently used books to support your students’ developing reading skills.  A variety of books are available for various age groups, although this year’s selection appears to have more in the pre-k to 3rd-grade range.

To qualify, your program must use a mentor – reader model. This event is first come – first serve, so show up early. Bringing boxes is recommended. Register here.

What is 100,000 Books?

100,000 Books builds on research that demonstrates the importance of connecting a caring adult or older student with a child.  This mentor model has been shown to have a significant impact on the life of a child and will be the primary model that 100,000 Books uses to support reading skills development.  Mentors (teachers, librarians, youth workers, caring adults, older students…) will reinforce reading skills through one time and on-going read-along opportunities that will help kids to build this critical love of reading.


If you have any questions, please contact Tanya Baronti at or Joe Welsh at


November 13, 2018

The State of Maker Learning in Southwest PA and Beyond

Join education practitioners in a discussion of the State of Maker Learning in SW PA and Beyond on November 15th at CoLab18. This event, through lightning talks and group discussion, will serve as a catalyst to better understand the maker space landscape in Pittsburgh, obtain ideas from national makers, and generate new ideas for all. Click here to learn more and to register.

Speakers Include:

Light breakfast and lunch provided.

*Event information provided by APOST*