Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity Scholarship Program

Program Description


This is a great opportunity to help alleviate the shortage of qualified early childhood educators, though I realize it may increase the shortage of fabulous and essential education support professionals in our schools, I feel I must share this great opportunity.

If you work or have worked in early childhood education and you’re seeking additional credentials and/or a degree in early childhood education, you may be eligible for the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) Scholarship Program. The program was created to address the shortage of qualified early childhood educators by encouraging the pursuit of credentials and advancement of already-held degrees in early childhood education, with an aim toward building a strong, well-prepared workforce. If you would like to be connected to someone who can walk you through all the available educational opportunities, consider completing the Higher Education Navigator Interest Form. A Higher Education Navigator from your local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency will reach out to you and can help you find and enroll in the college that best meets your needs.


What Professional Development Do You Need: Join the conversation

ESP Community Conversations: Professional Development 

Thursday, February 16, 2023, 7-8:30 p.m. ET., virtual (note: Eastern Time Zone)
Join us for a virtual networking session where you’ll connect with fellow NEA ESP members across the country to discuss your professional development experiences and the resources and support you need for professional growth. Register Here. 
*Open to NEA ESP members only 

ESP Learning Network Webinar: Pensions 101 for Advocates 

Thursday, February 23, 2023, 7-8 p.m. ET., virtual 
This webinar will give you a working knowledge of pensions and access to additional resources so that you can be an effective advocate for pensions and protect our members’ futures. Register Here. 
*Open to all educators


Come Be Apart Of Our TEAM

Nominations for the IEA spring elections close at 4 pm on February 15th. A link to online nominations can be found on the IEA website.

As of February 1st, we have not received any nominations for the following positions:

  • ESP Southern/Central Section Alternate (1-year term)
  • ESP Northern/Central Alternate (2-year term)

We encourage you to get involved and submit a nomination. Your voice is needed at our table. Eligibility information for these positions can be found in the spring all-member mailer and in IEA Board Policies.

If you have any questions, please contact Governance Elections Paraprofessional Kim Trader.


ESP Community Conversations: Professional Development for ESPs

Thursday, February 16, 2023 7:00 PM –  8:30 PM ET

To ensure a great public education for every student, education support professionals (ESPs) want and deserve access to high-quality professional development and support at every stage of their careers. Join us for a 1.5-hour virtual networking session that will connect you with fellow NEA ESP members across the country to discuss your professional development experiences and the resources and support you need for professional growth.


2023 NEA ESP National Conference

Joy, Justice, Excellence: The Strength of Educators. The Brilliance of Students. The Power of Community.

Good news! NEA is now accepting registrations for the 2023 NEA Education Support
Professionals (ESPs) National Conference, scheduled for March 24-26, in Seattle, Washington. Funding may be available at your Illinois Education Region office and union local to help cover expenses.

The ESP Conference is certain to be a special event. With 70+ sessions led by ESPs, NEA
partners and NEA staff, this conference is a premier opportunity for professional leadership,
development, and community. During the conference, we will also honor ESP of the Year
nominees from across the country and announce this year’s NEA ESP of the Year awardee.
Complete ESP Conference information – including the agenda, workshops, link to registration
for self-funded (by self, state, local) attendees, link to reserve a hotel room, health and safety
updates, and more – can be found at www.nea.org/espconference.

Please reach out to Amber Parker (aparker@nea.org) or Jessica Brinkley (jdbrinkley@nea.org) if
you have any questions.


Free Virtual Webinar Especially for Education Support Professionals

Social Emotional Skills for ESPs with 321 InsightThis Social Emotional Skills for ESPs session will be held virtually on Thursday, Feb. 23 from 5-6 p.m.  Presenter Sue Lyons from 321 Insight will host. During this session, IEA ESP members will focus on the five CASEL SEL competencies. ESPs will understand SEL and learn how and why these skills benefit educators and students. Providing ESPs five practical and applicable ways they can support the development of SEL skills in students.

Register here! Please contact Mary Jane Morris with any questions.


ESP Mentoring Training Opportunity

Do you have ideas for advancing ESP leadership and professional excellence?

NEA is offering a special workshop to build strong peer mentoring pilot programs for ESPs. Selected teams of 3-5 ESPs will be funded by NEA to convene in Salt Lake City, Utah!

Over one and a half days, teams will work together to build their own unique programs that empower ESPs in the workplace and Association.