Fellowship Program for Early Care and Education Research Among Hispanic Populations

The Center’s Fellowship Program for Early Care and Education Research Among Hispanic Populations provides early career scholars studying early care and education (ECE) topics among Hispanic populationsincluding Hispanic children and families served by ECE and the Hispanic ECE workforce—the opportunity to participate in a 12-month program that provides seed research funds and valuable mentoring and professional development experiences. Fellows will also attend the Administration for Children and Families’(ACF) 2024 National Research Conference on Early Childhood (NRCEC), where they will learn about current early childhood research and engage with research, policy, and programmatic attendees. 

The application period for the 2024-25 cohort is now closed. The Center encourages eligible early career scholars to learn more about this opportunity by reviewing and following the information below.

Mentorship: Fellows will work virtually with a mentor for a period of 12 months. This mentor will support their professional development and provide feedback on their research project. Mentors and mentees will be matched based on alignment with the fellow’s research interests and professional development goals. Once awarded, mentors and mentees will work together to develop a mentorship plan and outline objectives for the year ahead. Mentors do not need to be affiliated with the Center. The fellowship program will also include opportunities for mentoring and networking at the NRCEC, where fellows will be matched with a Center investigator who will facilitate networking with federal project officers, researchers, practitioners, and fellow scholars.

Professional development, network, and collaboration: Fellows will join the Center’s network and participate in quarterly webinars that will be responsive to their professional development needs. These quarterly meetings will offer fellows opportunities to build skills, engage with other scholars and leaders in the field, and develop networks and potential collaborations. The fellowship will also offer opportunities to highlight fellows’ research through the Center’s dissemination channels, elevating their work and broadening its reach.

Funding: We anticipate funding up to two fellows. Each fellow will receive up to $7,000 in funds to support their research and attendance at the 2024 NRCEC. Mentors will receive a $2,000 honorarium for their time.

Eligibility Criteria

  1. Applicants must be a non-tenured early career investigator (up to 7 years post-Ph.D.) working at a university or research organization.
  2. Applicants should demonstrate a strong interest in conducting research focused on the early care and education experiences of Hispanic children and families in the United States and/or the ECE workforce that identifies as Hispanic.

The Center is particularly interested in research that has direct implications for how ACF early care and education programs— specifically, Head Start and/or the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF)— respond to the needs of Hispanic children and families with low incomes. Specific topics of interest include (but are not restricted to) those that examine:

  • Access to high-quality ECE, child care subsidies, and CCDF;
  • Equitable approaches to reach, recruit, and sustain enrollment of Hispanic families in ECE programs;
  • How ECE programs meet the needs of working parents;
  • The implementation of ECE systems that equitably support Hispanic children and families;
  • Approaches to support the diverse strengths and needs of Hispanic families served by ACF-funded ECE programs and staff;
  • The implementation and outcomes of culturally sensitive and linguistically responsive family engagement efforts in Head Start programs;
  • The training, experience, and characteristics of the ECE workforce serving Hispanic children; and
  • Professional development, program policies, and teaching and learning practices related to serving Hispanic families in Migrant and Seasonal Head Start programs.

Please note that this fellowship does not support international research or research focused on K-12 education or higher education.

For more information on Head Start and CCDF please visit the Office of Head Start and Office of Child Care.

  1. Availability to attend ACF’s National Research Conference on Early Childhood 2024 to be held June 24-26, 2024 in Arlington, VA.

Our team values equity and recognizes that systemic discrimination has negatively impacted the well-being of individuals, families, and communities who are also underrepresented in the research field. We strongly encourage scholars from populations that are historically underrepresented in research and academic fields (e.g., Latinx/o/e, first-generation graduate students, first-generation immigrants), and scholars in Hispanic Serving Institutions or Emerging Hispanic Serving Institutions, to apply.

Application Requirements

Applications were due by 5:00 p.m. ET on April 19, 2024, with the following components:

  1. Application form
  2. Description of the proposed work (maximum of 750 words, excluding references, in institutional letterhead) that includes:
    • The applicant’s interest and experience conducting ECE research among Hispanic families and children;
    • An overview of the research question(s) and relevant literature motivating the proposed project;
    • A description of the proposed method or approach; and
    • A statement describing the relevance of the proposed work for ECE policy or practice (especially related to CCDF and/or Head Start programs).
  3. Description of professional development goals and how the fellowship will help advance these goals beyond existing supports available (300 word maximum).
  4. Name and affiliation of potential mentor(s), if known. Note that mentors do not need to be affiliated with the Center. Identifying a mentor beforehand is not required; the Center will work with the fellow to identify a suitable mentor for them.
  5. A statement describing any relevant background, experiences, coursework, and skills that will inform their ability to center equity and cultural responsiveness in their work, and/or interest in this area (300 words maximum).
  6. Resume (4 page maximum) with information about the applicant’s educational background, publications, presentations, and any professional or public policy experience relevant to the work of the Center.
  7. Proof of degree conferral such as an unofficial transcript or a copy of the applicant’s diploma to show proof of doctoral degree completion.
  8. Detailed budget describing how the funds will be used. Examples of allowable expenses include travel to data collection site, participant incentives, equipment, payment for research assistants, and analysis software. Should the applicant need travel funds to attend NRCEC, these should be included in the budget. Funds cannot be used to purchase food or beverages.

Evaluation Criteria

Upon initial screening for completeness, applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  1. Scholar’s experience conducting research focused on ECE among Hispanic children and families.
  2. Degree to which applicant’s proposed project applies innovative frameworks, methods, or approaches to advance research focused on Latino populations and their experiences related to ECE.
  3. Degree to which the applicant’s proposed project has the potential to inform ECE policies or practices, especially those related to CCDF and/or Head Start.
  4. Professional development goals and the scholar’s potential to benefit from the fellowship, relative to resources available. Applicants from Hispanic Serving Institutions or Emerging Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs/EHSIs) will receive an additional point in this criterion, as these institutions tend to have fewer financial resources available than other colleges and universities.
  5. Demonstrated ability and/or interest in centering equity and cultural responsiveness in research or work.

Applicants will be notified about the review decision by mid-May. The program’s expected duration is from June 2024 to May 2025. Awards are contingent upon the availability of funds.

How to Apply

Application are no longer being accepted. Applicants can review the FAQs before preparing their futures applications.

If you have any issues with the online submission process, please email your application materials to [email protected] with “Hispanic Center ECE Fellowship Program” in the subject line.

Contact Information and Questions

For additional Program information, you can also reference the Program’s FAQs. You may also contact [email protected] with “Hispanic Center ECE Fellowship Program” in the subject line. Questions about the application or the Program were accepted through 5:00 p.m. ET on April 10.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Are postdoctoral fellows eligible to apply? No. This opportunity aims to support early career investigators who might otherwise not have structured mentorship opportunities available to them.
  2. Do I need to secure a mentor to apply? No. You can propose a mentor that you would like to work with, or the Center can help you find the right mentor for you.
  3. Does the mentor need to be in my institution? No. Fellows can work with mentors inside or outside their institution.
  4. Can I propose working with an existing mentor? Preferably not. One of the goals of the fellowship is to expand the fellows’ network of mentors and to foster new connections with experts in the field. For this reason, we encourage fellows to work with new mentors. As previously noted, we can help scholars identify new mentors in their field.
  5. Are there exceptions to the early career status definition (up to 7 years post-Ph.D.)? The Center recognizes that there may be circumstances that lead to lapses in investigators’ careers (e.g., childbirth, medical leave, natural disasters). Applicants have an opportunity to request an extension of early career status eligibility and provide a justification for their request in the online application for the review committee’s consideration.
  6. What are my responsibilities as a fellow? Fellows are expected to attend the NRCEC conference, develop a mentoring plan with their mentors, meet with mentors at least monthly, attend professional development trainings organized by the Center, and use funds for the activities requested. Fellows are also required to submit a progress report at the end of the fellowship.
  7. Will funds go directly to the applicant or the institution? Funds can be paid directly to applicants or their institution. Please note that we will issue a 1099 for stipends paid directly to applicants. Awardees are responsible for reporting this stipend as income in their taxes. Applicants who prefer to receive funds through their institution should include overhead expenses in the amount requested. The total amount requested, including overhead, should not exceed $7,000.
  8. Do I need to request the full amount ($7,000)? No. This is the maximum amount that will be granted per award.
  9. What if I am interested in serving as a mentor? Please send your CV and a statement describing your interest in serving as mentor along with any relevant mentorship experience to [email protected] with “Hispanic Center ECE Fellowship Program” in the subject line.
  10. Can project funds be used toward faculty salaries?
    Funds cannot be used toward faculty salaries. However, funds can be used to pay consultants (e.g., statistical consultant) who can support the project.
  11. Should the $2,000 allotted for the project mentor be included as part of the $7,000 project budget?
    No, the $2,000 stipend for mentors is separate from the $7,000 mentees are allowed to request for their project.

Read below to learn about our ECE fellowship program awardees and how they will use their awards to grow professionally.

2024 ECE Fellowship Program Awardees


Sarah Pedonti headshotDr. Sarah F. Pedonti is an assistant professor in birth–kindergarten education at Western Carolina University. Her research focuses on young children at risk for later reading difficulty, including children in poverty (Head Start/Early Head Start), children with disabilities, and dual language learners (DLLs), as well as children at the intersection of those identities, such as migrant and seasonal farmworker children. With the support of the fellowship program, Dr. Pedonti will fund a research project that focuses on ECE services for Hispanic children in rural America.


Lily Padia headshot.Dr. Lilly Padía’s scholarship and community work explores liberation for children, families, and communities at the intersection of disability, language, and race. Her current work examines the experiences of Latine families navigating both dual language early care/Head Start and early intervention systems for identified delays. She is an assistant professor of Raciolinguistic Justice in Early Childhood Teacher Education at Erikson Institute in Chicago. With the help of the fellowship program, Padía will fund a research project that focuses on Hispanic caregivers/families and educators of young children with disabilities and delays.