Funding awarded to UC Berkeley to ‘fulfill the equity promise’ of California’s Universal Transitional Kindergarten

December 15, 2021

Leadership Programs in the UC Berkeley School of Education will bring a focus on equity to training and supporting educational leaders at the dawn of the Universal Transitional Kindergarten (UTK) program in California, thanks in part to combined one-year funding of $250,000, awarded by the Silver Giving Foundation and Heising Simons Foundation. 

“Expanding access to high quality early learning will move the needle on improving education for vulnerable and historically underserved students in California’s public schools,” said Leadership Programs Director Rebecca Cheung, who also leads the 21st Century California School Leadership Academy State Center. “We will collaborate with practitioners, policymakers, and researchers across the state to provide the professional training and development that leaders need to fulfill the equity promise of this transformational UTK program.” 

Funding will enable Berkeley Leadership Programs to design a professional learning framework for the instructional leadership considerations of UTK, which includes understanding policy, lessons learned from early implementers, and research-based, developmentally appropriate practices. Berkeley leaders will ensure that equity, access, and inclusion are integral to this framework. 

Berkeley Leadership Programs will use these funds to lay the groundwork for creating multimedia instructional materials and resources for professional learning for virtual and in-person professional training sessions. With input from stakeholders, Berkeley will also create customized training geared toward California’s UTK model. 

While California urges seamless integration of Transitional Kindergarten with California State Preschool Programs, early childhood development and teaching remain new terrain for many school and district leaders. Small and mid-sized districts facing funding challenges may find it especially challenging to  implement UTK, making training and support critical to success.  

“We will address these significant gaps to ensure equitable and effective implementation of UTK in California,” said Cheung. “This is for our children and the future of our state and nation.”  

For more information on UC Berkeley School of Education’s work on Universal Transitional Kindergarten or to arrange an interview with an expert, please contact Communications Director Andrea Lampros at or 510.847.4469.

Photo credit: "Kindergarten" by pinreader, courtesy of CC BY-NC-ND 2.