New Partnership Launches to Plan Free, High Quality Early Learning on Community College Campuses

Head Start Partnerships Offer A Solution to Chronic On-Campus Child Care Shortage that Impacts Millions of Parenting Students

March 15, 2023

Source: Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and the National Head Start Association (NHSA) announced today that they will partner to increase free on-campus Head Start and Early Head Start slots on U.S. community college campuses. This partnership is funded through a planning grant supported by ECMC Foundation and the Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation.

Nearly 1 in 10 U.S. undergraduate students are single mothers, nearly all of whom have incomes at or near the poverty line. Though their children may be eligible for Head Start services, fewer than 100 of the 3,700+ community and technical college campuses have Head Start providers on-site. At the same time, Head Start programs are struggling with enrollment and workforce issues, leaving up to 180,000 federally funded child care and early learning slots unfilled.

Together, ACCT and NHSA will develop resources for partnerships to match existing Head Start providers with community college campuses that can offer free facilities. The community colleges will not charge rent, allowing Head Start operators to meet the required 20% philanthropic match for their federal grant dollars. Resulting partnerships will allow students on-campus access to free, high-quality early learning while also enabling Head Start centers to recruit eligible families and access the talent pool of Early Childhood Education students who may be interested in working at the center.

“Adding free Head Start slots at community college campuses sustainably addresses funding gaps in both early childhood and higher education,” said Abigail Seldin, CEO of the Seldin / Haring-Smith Foundation. “Connecting two best-in-class industry associations to match - and support - their members through the relocation process aligns with SHSF’s mission to expand access to public services.”

“Almost half of postsecondary students with children attend community colleges,” said ACCT President and CEO Jee Hang Lee. “Abundant evidence shows that child care is a primary barrier that keeps too many community college students from persisting and completing their education. ACCT is excited to partner with the National Head Start Association, ECMC Foundation, and Seldin / Haring-Smith Foundation to address this need through an innovative and cost-effective approach that will bring Head Start to community college campuses and, in turn, offer a solution to students’ child care needs.”

“Since our inception as the country’s flagship early learning program, Head Start and Early Head Start staff have helped families to identify and reach their goals and dreams, including those related to finances and economic mobility, housing, employment and education,” said NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci. “While nearly one million children and their families are served each year, too many parents and caregivers who could benefit from Head Start’s two-generation model of support lack equitable access. This partnership has the potential to expand access to high-quality early childhood learning and, in turn, expand access to adult education and job training.”

“ECMC Foundation is pleased to provide the funding needed to lay the groundwork for this project and catalyze systemic change for an important segment of our nation’s college students,” said ECMC Foundation President Jacob Fraire. “We know 22% of all undergraduate students are raising dependent children and nearly 10% of all undergraduate students are single mothers. This unique partnership has the ability to address the resource and time demands experienced by student parents and ensure they have the support needed to persist and graduate.”


About the Association of Community College Trustees

The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) is a non-profit educational organization of governing boards, representing more than 6,500 elected and appointed trustees who govern over 1,200 community, technical, and junior colleges in the United States and beyond. To learn more, visit and follow us on Twitter at

About the National Head Start Association

The National Head Start Association (NHSA) is committed to the belief that every child, regardless of circumstances at birth, has the ability to succeed in school and in life. The opportunities offered by Head Start lead to healthier, empowered children and families, and stronger, more vibrant communities. NHSA is the voice for more than 840,000 children and families from systemically underserved populations, 250,000 staff, and 1,600 Head Start grant recipients. To learn more, visit

About the ECMC Foundation

ECMC Foundation is a Los Angeles-based, nationally focused foundation whose mission is to improve higher education for career success among underserved populations through evidence-based innovation. It is one of several affiliates under the ECMC Group enterprise based in Minneapolis. ECMC Foundation makes investments to remove barriers to postsecondary completion; build the capacity of institutions, systems and organizations; and transform the postsecondary ecosystem using a spectrum of funding structures, including strategic grantmaking and program-related investments, to support both nonprofit and for-profit ventures. Working with grantees, partners and peers, ECMC Foundation’s vision is for all learners to unlock their fullest potential. Learn more about ECMC Foundation by visiting and ECMC Group by visiting

About the Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation

The Seldin / Haring-Smith Foundation (SHSF) is a family foundation that invests in solutions that expand equitable access to public services and support accountability for abuse of authority. In addition to grants, SHSF produces high-impact public policy research through its Civic Mapping Initiative, a research center charting the proximity of public transit stops to public services. Through corporate partnerships with Getty Images and FormSwift, SHSF co-developed new stock photos of today’s college students and produced SwiftStudent, a free tool for students seeking financial aid appeals. To learn more, visit and follow us on Twitter at @shsfunds.

Media Contact

Joanna Rosenthal

Communications Director, ECMC Foundation / 317.910.4968