Groundbreaking Initiative Addressing Critical Teacher Shortage in Early Childhood Jewish Education Launches in St. Louis

St. Louis joins second cohort of cities to roll out ElevatEd with 11 local participating schools

ST. LOUIS (June 27, 2024) – Jewish Federation of St. Louis joins the second cohort of cities to roll out ElevatEd, the groundbreaking initiative to address the critical shortage of early childcare teachers. The first cohort was extremely successful, impacting 48 schools and recruiting nearly 100 educators in the cities of Boston, Massachusetts; Denver-Boulder, Colorado; East Bay, California; Houston, Texas; and Long Island, New York.

In St. Louis, the program’s innovative recruitment and retention strategies will be supported locally by ElevatEd Community Coordinator Laura Fields in her new role with Jewish Federation of St. Louis. As community coordinator, Fields will manage recruitment and onboarding of emerging educators and mentors for many of the Jewish Early Childhood Centers in the St. Louis area.

Fields will be a vital connection, serving as liaison for the national ElevatEd initiative in addition to working closely with the 11 participating early childhood centers in the St. Louis Jewish community. Fundraising efforts are already underway locally to support this project and in collaboration with Jewish Community Centers Association of North America, Jewish Federations of North America, and the Union for Reform Judaism.

“As an educator for many years, my passion for this project comes in large part from a desire to help teachers and early childhood directors be successful in a profession that is frequently overlooked,” said Fields.

Born and raised in St. Louis, Fields graduated from UC-Santa Barbara and Fontbonne University, receiving her Elementary Education Teaching Certification and Masters in Curriculum and Instruction. She taught elementary education for nearly a decade before starting her own family. Fields has also devoted her time to Jewish Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy, most recently as a volunteer chair and previously as a professional staff member for development.

About ElevatEd
ElevatEd is a groundbreaking initiative to transform the field of early childhood Jewish education (ECJE) by recruiting, training, mentoring, and supporting more than 400 new teachers in 14 pioneer communities across North America during its first three years. By investing in emerging early childhood Jewish educators, ElevatEd seeks to unlock the potential of ECJE as a driver of deep, long-term family engagement in the Jewish community. ElevatEd is a unique collaboration among JCC Association of North America, Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), and the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). The $12-million project is funded generously by The Jim Joseph Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies, and the Samuels Family Foundation and by Federations, foundations, and philanthropists in participating communities. Learn more at, or on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

About the Jewish Federation of St. Louis
Jewish Federation of St. Louis is the Jewish community’s central philanthropic, planning and community-building organization. Founded in 1901, it is one of the region’s most respected and effective nonprofit organizations. Federation supports more than 70 agencies, programs and services in St. Louis and around the world – to ensure a thriving Jewish community, respond to emergencies, and care for our vulnerable. Contact: Amanda Miller —