YWCA Metro St. Louis Receives 2024 What’s Right with the Region Award

YWCA Metro St. Louis Receives 2024 What’s Right with the Region Award

Thursday, March 7, 2024 / St. Louis Missouri – YWCA Metro St. Louis is thrilled to announce that our Successful Pathwaysprogram has been honored with the 2024 What’s Right with the Region Award for Demonstrating Innovative Solutions by FOCUS St. Louis.

FOCUS St. Louis’ What’s Right with the Region Awards honor individuals, organizations, and initiatives for their outstanding contributions to the community. YWCA Metro St. Louis’ Successful Pathways™ apprenticeship program was selected by a committee of local leaders for its innovative approach to tackling a challenge facing our community. The award highlights the impactful work being done to address the critical shortage of qualified early childhood education professionals at YWCA and in our region and its significant contribution to workforce development.

YWCA Metro St. Louis is the largest women’s advocacy organization in the region, serving more than 10,000 women and their families annually in Crisis Intervention and Housing, Economic Empowerment, and Early Education. Despite its accreditations and accolades, YWCA’s Early Education Program has been negatively impacted by the national childcare crisis, resulting in a 22% shortage of qualified staff. This crisis has led to more than 10,000 children in our region losing access to quality childcare, with 133 providers closing in the past year alone.

To address this staffing deficit and ensure access to quality childcare for families in need, YWCA Metro St. Louis developed Successful Pathways™—an accelerated, pre-credentialing program for individuals interested in becoming early childhood education professionals. This innovative program, a Department of Labor registered apprenticeship, provides paid on-the-job training, places staff in classrooms immediately, and sets apprentices on a career path in education.

“We are honored to receive the What’s Right with the Region Award for Demonstrating Innovative Solutions,” said Stacy Johnson, YWCA Chief Program Officer and Head Start Director. “Successful Pathways is not only addressing the immediate staffing needs of our Early Education Program but also providing a career pathway for individuals in our community, ultimately contributing to the region’s workforce development.”

The Success Pathways program has already shown significant impact, keeping 85 classrooms open and serving 1,041 families in its second year. Additionally, seven individuals have completed the apprenticeship, with 12 individuals receiving the Child Development Associate credential. This program has not only changed the lives of participants but has also garnered recognition from the Department of Labor, the State of Missouri, and YWCA USA for its innovative approach to addressing the childcare crisis.

“We believe Successful Pathways is not just a solution for our region but a model that can be replicated and scaled to benefit communities nationwide,” said Dr. Cheryl Watkins, MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer of YWCA.

YWCA Metro St. Louis remains committed to providing quality childcare and empowering women and their families through innovative solutions like Successful Pathways™. This award serves as a testament to the dedication and impact of our organization in creating positive change in the St. Louis community.


YWCA Metro St. Louis is the region’s leading advocate for the safety, security and stability of women and children, serving more than 10,000 women, girls and families annually. The mission of YWCA is eliminating racism and empowering women. YWCA offers crisis intervention and rapid re-housing for victims of sexual and domestic violence; services for pregnant women and Head Start and Early Head Start early childhood education; economic empowerment services for all clients; and racial justice educational programs.

YWCA 24/7 CRISIS HELP LINE 314.531.7273

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