Paula Jorde Bloom Scholarship

Application Deadline April 1, 2019


Our founder Paula Jorde Bloom built the McCormick Center, 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. After her passing in early 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 will be awarded for the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership’s upcoming 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 these scholarships will receive complimentary full-conference registration to Leadership Connections and lodging, valued at more than $1,100.

Application Information

To apply for the scholarship, interested individuals must submit an online scholarship application that includes contact information and a written response to application questions.

Applications are due Monday, April 1, 2019 by 11:59pm (CDT).


Application Questions

The following questions can be found in the application <insert link>. Please respond in 250 words or less to each section below.

  1. Why are you interested in attending Leadership Connections and how do you envision it impacting your work in the field?
  2. How would you best describe your current role as a leader in Early Childhood Education?
  3. In what ways do you hope to grow as a leader and how do you envision your future leadership role in Early Childhood Education?
  4. Describe how another leader in the field has positively impacted you or your work. What lessons or takeaways did you learn from that person and how do they impact you as a leader?

Letter of Support Details

Applicants are encouraged to request a letter of support or recommendation from their current supervisor or a professional colleague. Letters from a supervisor should also include their support of the applicant in attending Leadership Connections. Letters can be submitted to Marleen Barrett at:

Important Dates and Information

Applications must be submitted by 11:59 PM (Central Time) on April 1, 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.

A committee comprised of members of the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership Advisory Board and staff 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 2019 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?
    • Applicants will be notified via email by April 8, 2019, regarding the status of their applications.
  • What if I have already registered for Leadership Connections?
    • Please indicate on your application if you have already registered for Leadership Connections. Scholarship recipients will be reimbursed if they have already registered for Leadership Connections. All applications that are reviewed by the Scholarship Committee will receive an Early Bird rate registration code 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 2019 Leadership Connections: meals provided to conference registrants (Continental breakfasts Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; and lunch Thursday and Friday): 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 Marleen  at or (847) 947-5267 if you have any questions or need further information.