Investing in School Readiness
Creating Synergy through Peer Mentoring

Creating Synergy through Peer Mentoring


May 18, 2023


Fairfax Futures was thrilled to be selected as a finalist for Harvard University’s Zaentz Early Education Initiative Challenge which funds promising ideas that have the potential to transform early education. Sallyann Bergh, Executive Director of Fairfax Futures and Jill McFarren Avilés, Founder/Director of McFarren Avilés & Associates, traveled to Boston on April 27 to pitch their idea focused on the Child Development Associate® (CDA) Peer Mentoring Program in front of a panel of judges and a live audience at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. This unique program supports early childhood educators in overcoming the hurdles that arise in the pursuit of the CDA credential. Through a peer support model, educators who have earned their CDA serve as mentors and coaches to help educators push past barriers such as language, technology and isolation, among others. To view the fully captioned live pitch, click here and fast forward to the 1:08:20 minute mark.  Check out our Facebook photo gallery for more photos. 


Avilés shares, “Being selected as one of the six finalists of the 2023 Zaentz Early Education Innovation Challenge was an honor. It was an affirming experience, and although we didn’t take home the prize, we won by just being present! There was lots of positive energy and a sense that every pebble contributes to the ripple of making a difference in the lives of children and families!”

Jill McFarren Avilés presenting during the live
pitch. Photo credit: Martha Stewart


Sallyann Bergh during the Zaentz live pitch event.
Photo credit: Martha Stewart

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