The University of Massachusetts Amherst

UMass Donahue Institute

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StrongStart to provide training and resources to early childhood professionals across Massachusetts

UMass Donahue Institute recently partnered with UMass Boston in support of the College of Education and Human Development’s successful bid to develop and oversee a new, statewide training and technical assistance resource for the Commonwealth’s early childhood and out-of-school time workforce.

A program of the MA Department of Early Education and Care, the Massachusetts StrongStart Professional Development System will provide professional learning, program development and quality improvement training for the state’s licensed early care and education programs and educators.

StrongStart will be administered by UMass Boston’s Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation. Training and technical assistance services will be delivered through five regional Professional Development Centers (PDCs). Professional development services to be provided by Strong Start will address a broad range of needs and issues, including: leadership coaching; health and safety; inclusion; trauma-informed care; behavioral health; program quality improvement; business and management; and instructional practices.

Through our partnership with UMass Boston, numerous UMass Donahue Institute business groups and staff will be contributing their expertise and services to StrongStart. Mary Watson Avery, a director in our multifaceted Early Childhood Training and Technical Services area, will oversee the Central Massachusetts Professional Development Center.

“It’s an honor to be a part of this exciting collaboration with UMass Boston to design and deliver the best in professional development opportunities to the early childhood workforce,” Avery said. “As the coordinator for the Central Massachusetts PDC, I am especially pleased to be supporting the part of the state I call home.”

Additional PDCs will be located in the West, Northeast, Southeast and Metro Boston regions of the state.

Our Applied Research & Program Evaluation group, under the leadership of Director Jennifer Gordon, will be responsible for data management, reporting and evaluation activities to support the system.

Additional startup support is being provided by Sharon Vardatira, the Donahue Institute’s director of business development.

Learn more about StrongStart at

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The UMass Donahue Institute is pre-approved to offer a variety of options for streamlined, simplified contracting both within Massachusetts and at the federal level.

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UMass Donahue Institute

University of Massachusetts Amherst

100 Venture Way, Suite 9

Hadley, Massachusetts 01035

(413) 545-0001

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