Education Navigators

Our top priority is connecting the Early Childhood Education workforce with appropriate programs at 2- and 4-year colleges to obtain additional degrees/licenses/credentials, and bring awareness to scholarship opportunities.

  • Assistance with college applications
  • Navigating Course options and directory
  • Information for scholarship eligibility (ECACE, Golden Apple, SETTW, MTI, etc.)
  • Assistance with FAFSA (financial aid packages, grants, Alternative Application for
    Illinois Financial Aid)

We’re on a mission to work side by side with educators to offer professional development opportunities that will strengthen their knowledge and increase the quality of care for children and families they serve.


What is the overall goal of this program?

To increase the number of degree-holding early childhood professionals, which will provide the opportunity to receive higher pay and hopefully stay in the industry longer. The increased need for educators is being felt across the country and this program is hoping to start the process of addressing that issue.

Who is eligible for this program?

Individuals that currently (or previously) work in the Early Childhood Education sector, seeking to receive credentials or degrees. Example positions eligible include teacher, assistant, or director in early childhood centers, schools, or homes; and membership in the Gateways to Opportunity® registry. Please note: You must be enrolled in or planning to enroll in an official Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) partner program. A list of participating institutions and full eligibility requirements can be found here.

Do I have to be enrolled full-time and/or in-person to participate?

No. You can be enrolled as a full-time or part-time student, as well as select to enroll in a hybrid/remote program, if the school you choose offers it. Your Education Navigator can walk through more specifics once you complete the interest form below.

How much are the ECACE scholarships for?

ECACE scholarships are available for undergraduate education at participating Illinois colleges and universities and can cover up to the total cost of attendance after other financial aid received-costs such as tuition and fees, room and board, and books and supplies.

Do I have to live in the state of Illinois to participate?

In order to be eligible for a scholarship, you must live in Illinois. Otherwise, other requirements vary by location. Please reach out to an Education Navigator for more information.

How do the Education Navigators work with the partnering colleges/universities?

Education Navigators work directly with both your program and any support staff provided by the school. Some collegiate programs are more hands-on than others, so our team ensures you have every step in the process covered — from filling out your initial applications to getting started in your next career move.

How long am I supported in my program by an Education Navigator?

Our team is involved as long as you need our support. They have direct experience in the process and therefore can address both sides of the journey you’re about to embark on.

Is there a deadline to apply?

Registration is rolling, with the expectation that you’ll start in the upcoming Fall semester. Please work with an Education Navigator to ensure your application is submitted on time.

What services are available to non-English speakers?

We have bilingual, Spanish-speaking Education Navigators on staff. If there is another language you need assistance with, we have both community and collegiate partners to refer you to.