Paula Jorde Bloom Scholarship 2024


Application Deadline: October 30, 2023


About the Scholarship

The Paula Jorde Bloom Scholarship Fund, 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 program leaders 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 (MCECL) 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 .

One scholarship for the McCormick Center’s 2024 Leadership Connections National Conference will be awarded. Leadership Connections is the premier national conference for decision-makers and leaders in early childhood education. The conference brings together dedicated professionals interested in early childhood leadership. The recipient of the scholarship will receive a complimentary full-conference registration to Leadership Connections 2024, meals provided to conference registrants; and up to three nights lodging at the conference hotel.


Application Information:

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

  • Please describe your current work as an emerging or aspiring leader in Early Childhood Education and explain how attending Leadership Connections strengthen your leadership skills in Early Childhood Education? Please describe and give specific examples.
  • 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 growth potential? Please explain why you have chosen that specific domain.
  • Describe a new skill that you learned in another training or conference. How has that skill impacted your work with young children and families?

Applicants may include a letter of support from someone familiar with their work in early childhood education with their application. Letters may be submitted to  or uploaded into the application by October 30. FAQs and Tips for success

Submit your online application and written responses by 11:59 PM (CDT) Monday,
October 30, 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.

Kimberlee Hendricks, Interim Executive Director of the McCormick Center, will telephone the winning recipients.  All applicants will be notified via email by December 22, 2023, regarding the status of their applications.

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



Awardee Expectations:

  • The Paula Jorde Bloom Scholarship award will cover a full conference registration for the 2024 Leadership Connections; meals provided to conference registrants and up to three nights lodging at the conference hotel. The scholarship award does not cover travel expenses, meals not provided as part of the conference registration, or any other expenses awardees may incur.
  • The scholarship recipient agrees to participate fully in the 2024 Leadership Connections National Conference including specific events for award recipients.
  • Awardee will be expected to provide a reflection about their experiences attending Leadership Connections, which the McCormick may use in promotional, marketing, or education materials without further compensation.
  • By applying, applicants understand and agree that their images in photos or videos, from the Conference may be used by the McCormick Center in promotional, marketing, or educational 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.