Paula Jorde Bloom Scholarship


Application Deadline December 31, 2019



Our founder, Paula Jorde Bloom, built the McCormick Center into a thriving, nationally-recognized early childhood leadership organization from an initial grant of just $600.

Paula’s legacy supports the competencies of early childhood program leaders and brings credibility to the important and complex role of program leaders, the “gatekeepers to quality” as she was known to call them.

Paula passionately advocated for a spotlight on these leaders because children and families depend on them. It is why Paula dedicated her life to bringing national attention to the critical role program leaders play in assuring high-quality early childhood education for children. While Paula’s devotion to improving early childhood professional standards is legendary, she also recognized that best-in-class professional learning requires financial support. For more information, please visit The McCormick Center’s Founding Story and History. After her passing in 2018, Paula’s family established the Paula Jorde Bloom Scholarship Fund to support emerging early childhood leaders who are dedicated to providing the highest quality care and education for children and families. In 2019, two inaugural scholarships were awarded.

Two scholarships will be awarded for the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership’s upcoming 2020 Leadership Connections National Conference. This is the premier national conference for decision-makers and leaders in early childhood education and brings together key stakeholders interested in early childhood leadership. Recipients of the scholarships will receive complimentary full-conference registration to Leadership Connections and lodging, valued greater than $1,100.


Application Information:

To apply for the scholarship, interested individuals must submit this online scholarship application that includes contact information and open-ended application questions.

Applications are due Friday, December 31, 2019 by 11:59pm (CST)



Letter of Support Details

Applicants are encouraged to request a letter of support or recommendation from their current supervisor or a colleague. Letters from a supervisor should include that they will grant the applicant time away from the workplace to attend the Leadership Connections conference if selected. Letters may be submitted to Wendy Connell at or uploaded into the application by December 31, 2019.


Important Dates and Information

Submit your online application and written responses by 11:59 PM (CST) Friday, December 31, 2019. Incomplete or late applications will not be reviewed for consideration. Speakers, presenters, vendors, National Louis University employees, and McCormick Center Advisory Board members are not eligible to apply for the scholarship.

A committee comprised of team members of the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership will review and consider all complete scholarship applications. The scholarship application review process will consider:

  • A demonstrable commitment to being an advocate for young children and their families, and a catalyst for change in the field;
  • How participation in Leadership Connections will positively impact the development of an emerging early childhood education leader;
  • Dedication to providing the highest quality care and education for children and families; and
  • An articulated understanding of how administrators influence program quality from a whole leadership perspective.


Awardee Expectations

Recipients of the Paula Jorde Bloom Scholarship are agreeing to participate fully in the 2020 Leadership Connections National Conference, including any specific events for award recipients. By applying, you are also agreeing to participate in photos or videos that the McCormick Center and the Paula Jorde Bloom Scholarship Fund may use in future promotional, marketing, or educational materials. Awardees will also be expected to complete or participate in a reflection activity to share about their experiences attending Leadership Connections.



When will recipients be notified of their scholarship award?

  • Donna Jacobson, Executive Director of the McCormick Center will telephone the winning recipients.
  • All applicants will be notified via email by January 31, 2020, regarding the status of their applications.

What if I have already registered for Leadership Connections?

  • Scholarship recipients will be reimbursed if they have already registered for Leadership Connections.

How will I know if my application and letter of support have been received?

  • Applications that are completed and submitted before the deadline will receive a confirmation email.

What costs does the scholarship award cover?

  • The two Paula Jorde Bloom Scholarships will cover complete registration costs for the 2020 Leadership Connections; meals provided to conference registrants (Continental breakfasts Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday; and lunch Wednesday and Thursday); and lodging at the conference hotel. The scholarship award does not cover travel expenses, meals not listed above, or any other expenses awardees may incur.


Contact Information

Please contact Wendy Connell at or (847) 947-5133 if you have any questions or need further information.