RVC Launches ECACE Grant Scholarship for Early Childhood Education

Rock Valley College is proud to announce the launch of the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) grant scholarship, a groundbreaking program that provides students with the opportunity to earn their degree or certificate in early childhood education while gaining valuable experience in the field. This innovative program is designed to address the growing need for qualified early childhood educators and ensure that every child has access to high-quality education.

young students sitting in early childhood center

Young learners sitting on floor at the Hand-In-Hand Child Care Center.

One of the key features of the ECACE grant scholarship is the ability for students to complete the program online. Recognizing the challenges faced by students in today's post-pandemic world, Rock Valley College has made the program more accessible, allowing students to pursue their education without putting their lives on hold. Additionally, the program offers comprehensive student assistance, including laptops, textbooks, and support for overcoming any barriers that students may face outside of school.

The ECACE grant scholarship also provides students with the opportunity to earn credentials through Gateways to Opportunity, further enhancing their qualifications in the field. To facilitate hands-on learning, Rock Valley College has established an on-campus learning lab that replicates real early childhood classrooms, complete with materials that students can utilize while teaching.

Already, the impact of the ECACE grant scholarship is being felt throughout the community. Anna Cicero, Early Childhood Education Support Specialist, has witnessed firsthand the positive effects of the program during her onsite visits. She shared, "Several staff members at Hand-In-Hand Child Care Center have transferred to Rock Valley College to take advantage of our new Early Childhood Education program and the ECACE grant scholarship." In Belvidere, Kimberlee Liedberg, ECACE Grant Coordinator, met with First Step Daycare and discovered that the program has the potential to help them reopen their preschool program and increase their teaching staff. “First Step Daycare has a capacity of about 130 children and right now they’re only accepting 90 and, in some cases, not providing classes for certain age groups, due to the lack of staff,” said Liedberg. “Having this program will potentially allow them to re-open their preschool program and get more teachers to be back at full enrollment."

Rock Valley College is committed to engaging with the community and raising awareness about the ECACE grant scholarship. Through presentations and lunch-n-learns, Cicero and Liedberg are providing daycare and childcare centers with valuable information about the program and how it can benefit both the centers and potential incumbent workers seeking a degree. Cicero also stated, “Through our program, we want to connect with the community and provide some education about the ECACE grant and what we have available at RVC.”

Upon completion of their degree at Rock Valley College, students have the opportunity to transfer to one of the partnering four-year institutions to pursue their bachelor's degree, while enjoying the same opportunities and support they received at the community college level.

With the ECACE grant scholarship, Rock Valley College is addressing the teacher shortage and ensuring a future with highly qualified and certified teachers in early childhood education classrooms. This program will have a lasting impact on the education and development of young children for years to come.