Our Initiative

Building Bright Futures is a pilot initiative designed to support and scale pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships in early childhood education throughout North Carolina. BBF offers technical assistance, financial support, and resources to pre-apprentices and apprentices, child care centers, school districts, community colleges, and other partners that are part of a registered apprenticeship program through ApprenticeshipNC. 

Our mission is to ensure our educators are positioned for academic and career success—without risk of financial burden. Participants in this initiative can receive year-round financial support for wages, training, and professional development, and access to a network of industry professionals and enrichment opportunities to advance knowledge in the field. 

This pilot program aims to “fill in the gaps” where other financial resources can’t, offer value-added professional development and community of practice opportunities, create a hub for early childhood apprenticeship resources, and gather best practices and lessons learned from participants in support of a statewide playbook.

The Building Bright Futures program runs from January 3, 2023 to December 31, 2024.

Morgan Ford

Morgan Ford

Program Director

Morgan Ford is the Program Director for BBF, managing the development, recruiting, marketing, and implementation of the initiative in NC. Since graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English, she has had over 25 years of experience working with and managing community outreach and communications projects for public schools, nonprofits, and local, state, and federal government. As a parent, sometimes substitute teacher, and a long-time volunteer in preschools and the public schools, Morgan has a passion for supporting students and educators. When she’s not working, you can find her organizing anything she can get her hands on, eating chocolate, and spending time with her (not so little anymore) kids.

Megan Johnson

Megan Johnson

Program Manager

Megan serves as Program Manager for BBF, supporting the marketing efforts and daily operations of piloting the initiative across the state. Megan began her career in public relations and marketing and later received a Master’s in Teaching (K-6) from NC State University. She taught in the Wake County Public School System before becoming a stay-at-home mom to her two daughters. More recently, Megan was an assistant teacher at a preschool, getting 4- and 5-year-olds ready for kindergarten! In her spare time, Megan enjoys quality time with her family and friends, playing tennis, reading the latest in popular fiction, and is most happy whenever she is near the water.

Lindley Hille

Lindley Hille

Data Manager

Lindley Hille serves as the Data Manager for Building Bright Futures, where she plays a role in supporting the day-to-day financial and data operations. Lindley grew up in NC and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill.  She lived for a short time in New York City where she worked for the Calhoun School in Development. After moving back to NC, Lindley attended pharmacy school and worked in retail, independent, and hospital pharmacies. She continued to volunteer in her children’s classrooms as well as tutor one-on-one before school to help bring students up to grade level in math. Lindley loves spending time at the beach, reading a good book, playing in the pool with family, cooking something yummy in the kitchen, and walking with friends.

Christina Hutchinson

Christina Hutchinson

Data Manager

Christina Hutchinson serves as a Data Manager, assisting in the day-to-day financial and data operations. She has a strong background in marketing and organization and loves all things technical. Christina is passionate about North Carolina history and serves locally on the board of a historic home. When she is not busy volunteering, you will find Christina at home or on the road, enjoying photography, antiquing, or hanging out with her husband, son, and two cats.

Marsha Basloe

Marsha Basloe


With a passion for early childhood education, public education, and building services for vulnerable populations, Marsha supports non-profit and for-profit organizations, counties, and states in addressing their current and future needs. Marsha recently retired as President of Child Care Services Association (CCSA) and previously served as Senior Advisor at the DHHS Administration for Children (ACF), Office of Early Childhood Development, where she coordinated early childhood workforce efforts and homelessness issues. She was involved with early childhood workforce initiatives in the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education, served as Executive Director of the Early Care & Learning Council in New York, and was Executive Director of Durham’s Partnership for Children, a Smart Start initiative.

Our Support

Building Bright Futures’ mission is to ensure those interested in a career in early childhood education are positioned for academic and career success - free of financial burden. Participants can receive year-round financial support for wages, training, and professional development, and access to a network of industry professionals and enrichment opportunities to advance knowledge in the field.

Our initiative supports early childhood education pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs, up to the level of an Associate’s Degree. We do not cover tuition, but this pathway has incredible resources for that we can help you with!

BBF customizes its support to each program, recognizing that each has its own combination of resources, needs, and goals. These are just a few examples of how we can help. Find out how you could benefit from participating in this pilot initiative!

  • 50% wage match reimbursement stipends for pre-apprentice and apprentice hours worked
  • High-quality, well-trained, and dedicated workers, with potential to earn higher star ratings for your center
  • Communication of shared experiences with peers as part of a cohort
  • Established relationships with key partners, helping create a talent pipeline
  • Flexible financial support in key areas such as:
    • Materials and supplies
    • Transportation costs
    • Wraparound services
    • Educational and employment fees

  • Stipends for performance, completion, and transportation
  • High school credit, college credit, and industry-recognized credentials
  • Work-based learning experience in a child care center, with opportunities for paid hours
  • Additional learning opportunities during summer months
  • Free enrichment activities
    • Networking with industry professionals
    • Guest speakers
    • Field trips
    • Conferences
  • Personalized mentorship from experienced professionals in the early childhood field
  • Communication with peers as part of a cohort
  • Direct pathway to further education with an Associate’s Degree at no cost

  • Stipends for performance, completion, and transportation
  • Certificates and/or degrees, plus industry-recognized credentials
  • Paid work-based learning experience in a child care center
  • Free professional development and enrichment activities
    • Networking with industry professionals
    • Professional memberships
    • Field trips
    • Conferences
  • Personalized mentorship from experienced professionals in the early childhood field
  • Communication with peers as part of a cohort
  • Opportunities to earn an Associate’s Degree at no cost
  • Financial support for wraparound services

  • Mentorship stipends
  • Mentor support program and Community of Practice, Mentoring Apprentices and Pre-Apprentices Program (M.A.P.P.) hosted by Buildling Bright Futures partner, Child Care Services Association (CCSA)
  • Free enrichment activities for mentors and others working directly with pre-apparentices or apprentices
  • A supportive pathway for your students to further education and a career
  • Communication of shared experiences and resources with peers as part of a cohort
  • Flexible financial support for apprentices and program in key areas such as:
    • Materials and supplies
    • Transportation costs
    • Professional development
    • Wraparound services

How to Get Started with BBF

Congratulations, you are about to become part of a trailblazing initiative in NC to support and train our future early childhood educators!

If you are interested in learning more about early childhood apprenticeships and Building Bright Futures (BBF), or are ready to sign up with BBF, follow the steps below to get started. Keep in mind that some of these steps can happen simultaneously. We are here to guide you through the process, including just to answer questions if you are not sure if apprenticeship is for you. Reach out!

Contact Us
  • Learn about our program by reviewing resources and videos on our web site.
  • Contact Building Bright Futures:
  • BBF meets with you virtually to explain how apprenticeship and our initiative work.
  • We connect you with the appropriate ApprenticeshipNC contact or other related partners.
  • With ApprenticeshipNC, you create an apprenticeship program or sign onto an existing one.
While Your Apprenticeship Program is Being Developed by ApprenticeshipNC
  • Complete our BBF Registration Form.
  • Sign up for the BBF Newsletter.
  • Follow us on social media @NCBCEBBF (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Threads).
  • Look out for BBF events and resources you can use. You may participate in our events while your program is being developed.
  • Identify potential apprentices and mentors.
  • Apply for financial aid, scholarships, and other funding.
  • Begin planning for the apprenticeship, taking into consideration what other support BBF can provide for you.
Upon ApprenticeshipNC’s Approval of Your Registered Apprenticeship Program
  • Register your apprentices with ApprenticeshipNC.
  • Complete the relevant BBF demographic surveys. *Required
  • Complete a W-9 for any individual or organization receiving our funds. *Required
  • Create an account with BILL.com to receive payments from BBF. *Required
  • Start requesting financial support from BBF! *In addition to BBF registration and your program approval, the above tasks must be completed before receiving payments from BBF.
Interested in Adding a Pre-Apprenticeship to Your Program?
  • Contact your ApprenticeshipNC consultant, who can add you to the existing statewide DPI-sponsored program.
  • Register your new pre-apprentices.
  • Have your new pre-apprentices and mentors complete the relevant BBF demographic surveys. *Required



Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job training with classroom instruction to prepare workers for a highly skilled career. Apprentices are at least 16 years old, and can be an incumbent worker, a new hire, or a high school student. Youth apprentices are typically high school students or 16-24 years old. Registered apprenticeships are those approved by ApprenticeshipNC, North Carolina’s apprenticeship agency. Read more about apprenticeships and find a community college in your area by visiting ApprenticeshipNC.

Easy! Simply contact Morgan Ford, Program Director, morgan.ford@nc.gov or Megan Johnson, Program Manager, megan.johnson@nc.gov to let us know you are interested or want to sign up. We will connect you with an ApprenticeshipNC Consultant to begin the apprenticeship registration process. 

To be eligible for BBF support, we require three things:

  • Sign up with BBF. We require the Sponsor and Employers to complete our Registration Form. You can register with us anytime!
  • Provide us with a copy of the Registered Apprenticeship Agreement (RAP) once it is completed and approved by ApprenticeshipNC. The Sponsor should email this to BBF.
  • Complete a few online surveys. We will collect demographic information from the employers, sponsors, mentors, and each pre-apprentice or apprentice. As a pilot initiative, it is vital that we collect information to better support each program and the future of ECE apprenticeships.

For more information on how to sign up with BBF and an apprenticeship program, visit Get Started.

There is no cost for being a part of BBF! Building Bright Futures is an initiative designed to provide resources and financial support, thereby eliminating prohibitive costs to participants.

A Sponsor is the organization responsible for overseeing the apprenticeship agreement. Sometimes, the Sponsor and the Employer are the same. For a full list of apprenticeship-related terms, see the BBF Glossary of Terms.

Yes! Building Bright Futures funding can be used along with other funding sources. BBF funding fills in any financial gaps that may not be covered by other funding sources. Visit our Funding Resources page for more information.

Congratulations! Be sure to register your apprentices with your ApprenticeshipNC consultant. Once that is complete, you can begin submitting estimates or requests for wage and expense reimbursements to BBF. To access these forms, log-in to our Participants page to find the financial request forms. There are instructions with examples on how to fill them out. For assistance on financial requests or reimbursements, you may contact our Data Managers: Lindley Hille at lindley.hille@nc.gov or Christina Hutchinson at christina.hutchinson@nc.gov.



ECE Apprenticeships

Early childhood educators not only support the local workforce, but are also invaluable to a child’s first years of life. Children, parents, caregivers, and communities rely on access to quality early child care and high-quality educators to thrive.

Apprenticeships in early childhood education offer a supportive path for receiving a quality education while gaining paid, hands-on experience in an early child care setting. For child care centers, apprenticeships serve as a valuable recruiting and retention tool with access to dedicated workers who are simultaneously gaining the skills and education necessary for career success.

Below is a general overview of how ECE pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships work. Keep in mind that each program is unique, and some of the information below may not apply in all instances. For more information, visit ApprenticeshipNC.

Who Can be an Apprentice?

Pre-Apprentices and Apprentices can include anyone who is at least the age of 16. Many employers look first at their current employees. Who is already working and taking classes? Who is interested in pursuing further education, but hasn't had the resources to do it? Employers can also hire Apprentices from outside their organization.

Apprentices can be of any age and any level of professional or educational experience. There is an extry and exit point on the ECE Apprenticeship Pathway for everyone! ApprenticeshipNC provides prior credit for some requirements. This allows a range of employees or new hires to enter the same program, but at the level of experience that applies best to them.


Apprenticeship Requirements

The Early Childhood Educator apprenticeship model is successful because of the key elements listed below. Each of these items, however, can be customized to your own program.

  • On-The-Job Training - Apprentices are employees and working in real world applications as they participate in an apprenticeship. Each apprentice must work a minimum of 2,000 on-the-job hours in a child care setting.
  • Related Instruction - Combing the theory of instruction with the practical application of on-the-job training is the foundation of any apprenticeship. Each apprentice must complete a minimum of 144 contact hours (hours in the classroom) of Related Instruction. This refers to any training or instruction of the apprentice identified, such as an Infant/Toddler Certificate or Associate's Degree.
  • Competency Checklist/Work Process - As apprentices work toward their educational goals, they are also gaining critical job skills. Each apprentice must master the skills and competencies outlined in this document, which is created by their Employer.
  • Progressive Wage Scale - Apprentices are working, often full-time, while also attending school. Rewarding their hard work and perseverance is an important way to recognize their progress. Each apprentice must be paid on a progressive wage scale that includes a starting wage, ending wage, and at least one increase in between.
  • Mentor - For each apprentice, the Employer will identify a Mentor that works closely with them. This person will support and guide them through their apprenticeship. BBF, in partnership with Child Care Services Assocation (CCSA), provides mentors with an optional Mentor Support Program.

Pre-Apprenticeship is an optional pre-cursor to the apprenticeship, designed to prepare the student for the apprenticeship, or to allow them to explore it as a potential career path. It usually applies to high schoolers, but can be created for any age student. It serves as the perfect recruiting and training tool for Employers, while pre-apprentices have the chance to test out a career they are interested in.

BONUS! High schoolers who complete a pre-apprenticeship and register as an apprentice within 120 days of graduation are eligible to receive a tuition waiver at any of the 58 NC community colleges. What an amazing opportunity to earn a free Associate's Degree in early childhood education!

  • Option 1: The NC Department of Public Instruction sponsors a statewide Pre-Apprenticeship. Employers can add this to their existing apprenticeship program. It includes hosting high school students who are taking the Introduction to Early Childhood Education class either at their high school, or at a local community college.
    • If the student is taking the high school class (FE11), their work-based learning hours in the child care center are part of the requirements of the class and are not paid. Employers may choose to hire Pre-Apprenticeships to work paid hours outside of their school curriculum requirements, such as after school or during summer break.
    • If the student is taking the community college class (EDU 119), their work-based learning hours in the child care center are paid.
  • Option 2: You can create your own Pre-Apprenticeship as part of your program, for Pre-Apprentices of any age.
ECE Apprenticeship Pathway

This image illustrates the main phases of a student's apprenticeship journey, with multiple entry and exit points. You can see that high schoolers have two options for taking an introductory class. Most people will enter at the Apprenticeship level, and the completion of the apprenticeship leads to many options for next steps!


Apprenticeship Pathway

Early Childhood Education Careers

The field of early childhood education holds opportunities for a number of honorable, impactful, and rewarding careers. Degrees and certificates in early childhood can open many doors to a variety of workplace options.

  • Careers that involve working directly with children on a frequent or daily basis
    • After-School Care Provider
    • Assistant Teacher
    • Child Care Aide
    • Child Care Worker
    • Early Intervention Services Provider
    • Family Day Care Provider
    • Infant Caregiver
    • Nanny
    • Paraprofessional
    • Teacher
    • Teacher’s Aide
    • Special Education Teacher
    • Counselor
    • Occupational Therapist
    • Child Life Specialist
  • Careers that involve helping families provide for their young children
    • Education Specialist
    • Home Visitor
    • Homelessness Liaison
    • Nutrition Services Coordinator
    • Parent Educator
    • Parent Involvement Coordinator
    • Social Worker
    • Education Director
  • Early childhood careers outside of the classroom that typically require a minimum of an Associate’s Degree
    • ECE Sales Representative
    • Advocate
    • Early Childhood Librarian
    • Early Childhood Program Administrator
    • Evaluation Specialist
    • Higher Education Professor
    • Philanthropist
    • Policy Maker
    • Professional Development Provider
    • Researcher
    • Trainer or Staff Developer
    • Children’s Book Author

There are a number of workplace options available to those involved in early childhood education. Each of the following environments depends on childhood development professionals at all levels of expertise. Work environments that are suitable for early childhood educators include:

  • Schools: Private and public schools at both the elementary and secondary level hire teachers, counselors, specialists, instructional coordinators, and administrators.
  • Daycares/Child Care Centers: Child care facilities rely on the work of teachers, assistants, therapists, and administrators.
  • Religious Organizations: Many religious organizations offer daycare and early education services to community members and employ childhood development professionals. 
  • Individual/Family Services: Public welfare, adoption centers, counseling, and community shelters, rely on a network of social workers, counselors, psychologists, advocates, and administrators.
  • Nontraditional Education Centers: Military bases and youth detention centers, employ teachers, specialists, psychologists, correctional officers, and administrators.

Helpful Links

To explore additional career options for early childhood educators, visit the Child Care Services Association’s Career Directory.

NCcareers.org aims to be North Carolina’s central online resource for students, parents, educators, job seekers and career counselors looking for high quality job and career information.

North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE)


Building Bright Futures is an initiative developed by the North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE), a non-partisan, business-led, education and workforce non-profit (501-c3) that operates out of the Office of the Governor. Since 1983, NCBCE has provided a critical link between North Carolina business leaders and the state’s education decision-makers, helping to create connections between the education curriculum and the overall work readiness of people across the state.

NCBCE received a grant from NC’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) - Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) to pilot the Building Bright Futures initiative.

Find out more about NCBCE here.

Read NCBCE's 2023 Impact Report - 40th Anniversary Edition.

To learn more about other great work-based learning NCBCE initiatives, see below.

LiNC-IT (Linking North Carolina with Innovative Talent) addresses the high unemployment rate (86%) of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and employers’ need for educated, loyal, and detail-oriented workers. LiNC-IT provides job coaching for interns and their managers to support success. To date, this program has had 48 interns working with 19 employers, with 97% of interns getting full-time employment.

NCBCE is leading North Carolina’s participation in the National Governors Association Work-Based Learning Policy Academy as a Leader State. Through this multi-system initiative, NC Career Launch was developed. Career Launch programs provide students with work-based learning and education or credential attainment to prepare them for the workforce.  NCBCE works with partners to expand these programs and launch innovative pilots that provide opportunities for students and a pipeline of future team members for employers.

The Navigator, developed in partnership with Fidelity Investments, is an online marketplace that brings together members of the employer, educator, and workforce development communities. Whether it is through activities that enable students and job seekers to learn about work (e.g., guest speakers), learn through work (e.g., career competitions), or learn for work (e.g., apprenticeships), this platform makes “stepping in” to work-based learning easy, consistent, and scalable.

STEPs4GROWTH is a comprehensive clean energy workforce development project funded by a grant from the US Department of Commerce. It is led by NC A&T State University with support from NCBCE and other partners. STEPs4GROWTH works with employers to train students and adults to fill well-paying jobs in energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean vehicles, and grid & resiliency.

The NC Student Connect Tech Team is a comprehensive framework for North Carolina schools and districts to access resources for starting, implementing, and scaling a student technology support desk. NCBCE also worked with leaders of NC tech companies to develop a list of industry-developed credentials that students and teachers can access. Since its launch in 2020, twenty-one pilot districts have developed programs to support Tech Team programs which give students valuable work-based learning and credential attainment.

The Ready, Set, App! Competition is a statewide initiative that challenges NC high school students to create a mobile app that addresses a problem in their school or community. Ready, Set, App! focuses on three primary pillars: mobile app development, professional and personal development, and interpersonal and soft skills development.  The competition is sponsored by Lenovo.

Professional development is critical to supporting educators. The Governor’s Educator Discovery Award recognizes exemplary and innovative teachers and provides them with monetary stipends to cover the costs associated with the selected professional development opportunities. Three teachers receive the award each quarter.

Since 2017, NCBCE has been leading the state’s efforts to expand, pilot, and promote work-based learning and to provide technical assistance to employers and local education and workforce partners. The Experience More site provides toolkits, information, examples, and strategies to support work-based learning.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, NCBCE convened representatives from business, education, government, and non-profits to develop short-term connectivity strategies for remote learning.  Through this work, NCBCE raised grant funding to support remote learning in rural districts and assisted in the development of NC Student Connect, which has connected over 83,000 students with high-speed internet.  The work continues to address the student digital divide in NC.

Students@Work℠, a career awareness program held by Gubernatorial Proclamation, introduces NC middle school students to businesses and careers. Students are hosted by employers (on-site or virtually) and learn about career pathways in real-world business environments. Career Awareness is a critical first step in adding relevancy to academics and positioning students to successfully navigate career pathways. Many students are unaware of the multitude of careers available within their state and Students@Work helps bridge this gap.

Teachers@Work is a teacher-externship model designed in partnership by NCBCE and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. The program provides educators from across the state with unique, hands-on learning experiences inside local businesses, non-profit organizations, and state entities. Through these experiences, educators gain a more robust understanding of the technical skills, behaviors, and mindsets students need to be successful in today’s professional environments.