Paula Jorde Bloom Scholarship 2023


Application Deadline: January 6, 2023


About the Scholarship

The Paula Jorde Bloom Scholarship, first awarded in 2019, is intended to support emerging and aspiring early childhood leaders who are dedicated to providing the highest quality care and education for children and families. The scholarship was established by Paula’s family after her passing in 2018 and highlights her legendary devotion to improving early childhood professional standards.

Paula understood the important and complex role of program leaders, and she realized that children and families depend on them and passionately advocated for a spotlight on them. Paula dedicated her life to bringing national attention to the critical role program leaders play in ensuring high-quality early childhood education for children. She worked to bring credibility to their roles and to support the ongoing professional development of their core competencies.

While Paula was able to found and build the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership into a thriving, nationally recognized early childhood leadership organization from an initial grant of just $600, she recognized that best-in-class professional learning requires financial support. This scholarship is one means of such support. For more information, please visit The McCormick Center’s Founding Story and History.

In 2023, two scholarships providing registration fees for the McCormick Center’s 2023 Leadership Connections™ National Conference will be awarded. This is the premier national conference for decision-makers and leaders in early childhood education; it brings together dedicated professionals interested in early childhood leadership. Recipients of the scholarships will receive complimentary, full-conference registration to Leadership Connections 2023, including the pre-conference sessions, valued at $500.00


Application Information:

To apply for the scholarship, interested individuals must submit an online scholarship application, including contact information and responses to the following open-ended application questions.

  • Please describe your current work as an emerging or aspiring leader in early childhood education and explain how you hope to grow in this role.
  • How do you currently advocate for young children and their families? If possible, please provide specific examples, including positive outcomes achieved through your advocacy activities.
  • The Leadership Connections tracks are based on the Whole Leadership Framework. Which domain (leadership essentials, administrative leadership, or pedagogical leadership) do you identify as the one where you have the most potential for growth? Please explain why you have chosen that specific domain.
  • How will attending Leadership Connections help you grow and strengthen your leadership skills in early childhood education? Please describe and give specific examples.
  • Describe a new skill that you learned about in another training or conference. How has that skill impacted your work with young children and families?

Applicants are required to include a letter of support from someone familiar with their work in early childhood education with their application. Letters may be submitted to Katherine Agle at or uploaded into the application by January 6, 2023.

Submit your online application and written responses by 11:59 PM (CDT) Friday, January 6, 2023. Applications that are completed and submitted before the deadline will receive a confirmation email. Incomplete or late applications will not be considered. Speakers, presenters, vendors, National Louis University employees, and McCormick Center Advisory Council members are not eligible to apply for the scholarship.

Donna Jacobson, Executive Director of the McCormick Center, will telephone the winning recipients. All applicants will be notified via email by February 6, 2023, regarding the status of their applications.

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



Awardee Expectations:

  • While conference workshops and events are expected to be recorded, recipients of the Paula Jorde Bloom Scholarship agree to participate in the 2023 Leadership Connections National Conference as it initially occurs, including attendance at any specific events for award recipients.
  • By applying, applicants also understand and agree that their images in photos, videos, or screenshots from the Conference may be used by the McCormick Center and the Paula Jorde Bloom Scholarship Fund in promotional, marketing, or educational materials without further compensation.
  • Awardees will also be expected to complete or participate in a reflection activity about their experiences attending Leadership Connections, which may be used by the McCormick Center in promotional, marketing, or education materials without further compensation.


For More Information:

Click Here to read FAQs and Tips for Success.

Please contact Katherine Agle at or  312.261.3815 if you have any questions or need further information.