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Workforce Scholarship | Chicago Early Learning

Workforce Scholarship

Advance Your Career in Early Childhood Education

Do you want to advance in your career as an early childhood educator, or become an early childhood professional? Apply for the Chicago Early Learning Workforce Scholarship for the 2023–2024 academic year.

The scholarship application window will open on January 18, 2023 at 9 AM CT.

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What Does The Scholarship Cover?

100% of tuition and eligible fees are covered, plus up to $250 in books per course. The scholarship will serve as a “last dollar” scholarship, meaning it will cover everything that students’ federal grants and other scholarships do not cover.

Who is Eligible?

  1. Current Chicago Early Learning program staff employed at a CPS Pre-K or Head Start/Early Head Start/PFA/PI funded Community-Based program.
  2. Chicago-based individuals interested in becoming early childhood educators

Whether you want to get a degree in early childhood education, increase your Gateways credential level or join the early childhood workforce this opportunity is for you.

Recipients must be eligible for employment in a Chicago Early Learning program. (Recipients cannot have any felonies and must be able to pass an FBI, State of Illinois, and Sex Offender background check.)

3-Year Work Commitment
Chicago Early Learning Workforce Scholarship recipients must commit to working in a Chicago Early Learning program which includes CPS Pre-K and Head Start/Early Head Start/PFA/PI funded community-based programs for a minimum of three years after completing the degree or approved academic program

The Workforce Scholarship Isn’t Just for Teachers

The Workforce Scholarship is for any Chicago resident who wants to enter the early childhood workforce. Parents of children currently enrolled in one of Chicago’s early childhood programs and recent High School graduates are encouraged to apply. DACA recipients are also eligible.

The Workforce Scholarship is also for the whole ECE field including:

  • Infant/toddler teachers
  • Family Engagement Specialists
  • Education and development coordinators
  • Preschool teachers
  • Early Childhood directors
  • and anyone serious about entering the ECE workforce!

Which Academic/Degree Pathways are Available?

The scholarship matches recipients with the right higher education program to go toward one of the following academic/degree pathways.

  • Basic & Advanced Certificates
  • Associates Degree
  • Bachelor’s Degree (Associate to Bachelor pathway)
  • Professional Educator’s License
  • Coursework to earn:
    • Endorsement
    • Gateways Credentials

Scholarship Success Stories

“The Chicago Early Learning Workforce Scholarship can only help you accomplish your goals. It’s doable and it’s going to save you money. There is also some flexibility in terms of your work schedule and course load.”

Evelyn Patino, CELWS & UIC Alumni

"This scholarship really meets people where they are… it is a very flexible scholarship and doesn’t require you to be a full-time student or anything.”

Sinead Abarca, CELWS & Roosevelt University Alumni

Have Questions?
If you have any questions or need additional support, please contact

About the Chicago Early Learning Workforce Scholarship

The Mayor’s Office, City Colleges of Chicago (CCC)- Harry S. Truman College, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and the Department of Family & Support Services (DFSS) collaborated to launch the Chicago Early Learning Workforce Scholarship (CELWS) initiative. CELWS aims to support Chicagoans and the current Chicago Early Learning workforce as they pursue coursework to earn a credential, degree, endorsement, or licensure to work with young children (birth through Pre-k) and families in Chicago Early Learning programs.

The scholarship serves an important role in Chicago’s efforts to expand access to early learning across the city and build a more robust workforce to help Chicago expand high-quality early learning programs. CELWS provides recipients with meaningful career pathways through partnerships with Institutions of Higher Education, offering students personalized support as they navigate their desired course of study.

Frequently Asked Questions

Read These FAQs before applying:

Scholarship Work Commitment

Our Partners

City of Chicago Logo Department of Family and Support Services Logo CPS Logo City Colleges of Chicago Logo