Scholarship available to address shortage of early childhood educators

DIXON – The Illinois Student Assistance Commission launched a new scholarship to create more opportunities for educators and help fill job demand.

The commission collaborated with the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity to create the scholarship program.

The scholarship will allow smooth educational pathways at colleges and universities, including Sauk Valley Community College.

“The ECACE scholarship supports the early childhood workforce in the Sauk Valley to upskill their credentials and degrees, increasing individual earning potential and resulting in improved access to high quality care for all families with young children,” said Beth Smaka, an early childhood education assistant professor at Sauk. “The ECACE legislation guarantees SVCC students a seamless transfer of their AAS in ECE, creating a brand-new pathway to a bachelor’s degree in ECE that is flexible, affordable, and convenient, beginning with classes at our local community college, here at home in the Sauk Valley.”

The scholarship is designed to support and encourage the pursuit of new credentials as well as more advanced education for current associate degree-holders working in early childhood education.

Information and a link to the 2021-22 scholarship application is now available on the ISAC website at

For eligible students attending community colleges and public universities, the scholarship covers the total cost of attendance for an academic year (including summer) after other financial aid received.

Students at participating non-profit private institutions may receive an amount no more than the cost of the most expensive program of study in the early childhood education field at an Illinois public college, after other financial aid received.

Scholarship recipients are expected to continue or return to teaching or direct services in the early childhood care and education field in Illinois after they complete their program of study.

Additional funding is available for SVCC students who enroll in a minimum of 3 credit hours. All students who meet that criteria and fill out an additional form during their registration process will receive at least $1,000 for the spring semester. Registration is currently open, with spring classes beginning Jan. 18. For more information on registration, call 815-835-6273.

For more information on the ECACE scholarship, contact Jon Mandrell, vice president of academics and student services at