Western Carolina University’s Birth-Kindergarten Program was recently awarded a more than $800,000 grant by the Dogwood Health Trust for Leadership, Equity and Access Fellowship in Early Childhood Education. The program was selected as one of 10 organizations in the region dedicated to increasing access and equity in the early childhood workforce for underserved communities. The grant is intended to expand resources, opportunities and educated early childhood workers from diverse backgrounds to better serve the communities of the region and state. The grant will provide fully-funded tuition for the Birth-Kindergarten Program to 30 students, as well as a stipend to support other expenses such as materials, food or rent. The program is currently recruiting and will begin in the fall of 2023. The grant focuses on the cultural and socioeconomic communities in WNC facing a shortage of proper childcare and childcare workers.