School District Partnership Opportunities


Everyone in education understands the gravity of the teacher shortage, which continues to worsen to unprecedented levels. According to the 2021 Illinois Educator Shortage Survey conducted by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, 88% of school districts surveyed reported a teacher shortage problem.

We get it – and we are on it.

The NIU College of Education – the state's second-largest producer of teachers – is committed to leading efforts that resolve the teacher shortage. We are building the educator workforce, and we are doing so in innovative and impactful ways that include intentional recruitment, excellent preparation and constructive partnerships.

Opportunities for collaboration are growing.

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

  • NIU is a member institution of the state's new Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity Scholarship (ECACE) program, designed to address the shortage of qualified early childhood professionals in Illinois. People working in your schools with associate degrees could potentially earn their bachelor's degrees and have their costs of attendance covered as they earn their teacher licensure.
  • Our PLEDGE (Partnering to Lead and Empower District-Grown Educators) initiative is going strong with several active cohorts developing new teachers and administrators in their local communities. They know the schools where they work, and they understand their students. They're rooted – and they're likely to stay.
  • Our new PLEDGE LEAP (Licensed Educator Accelerated Pathway) program provides a fast track for district employees to receive their bachelor's degrees in Special Education with credit for prior learning. LEAP launched this semester in two districts with more than four dozen paraprofessionals and other district employees enrolled. That's more than 50 new teachers from within; what difference would LEAP make for you?

Upskilling and Professional Development

  • We can partner with you to get the most of your Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds – and we're already engaged in several exciting projects. For example, we are delivering programming to 185 P.E. teachers to promote social and emotional learning through sport and other physical activities. You can use ESSER funds not only to provide additional training to your current team members, but also to help you develop the teachers you need moving forward.

School District Contract Cohorts

  • We can coordinate in-house, district-designed and grant-funded degree programs and/or endorsement, credential and/or approval cohorts with your school district.
  • If your school district does not have enough teachers to fill a cohort, we will work with your neighboring districts to recruit more teachers to make the cohort viable.
  • Beyond a traditional tuition approach, NIU can contract with your school district, which is more economical. To fund professional development contract cohorts, school districts often use grants (Title I Grants for Reading, Title II Grants for Teacher Professional Development, Title III Grants for English Language Learners, IDEA Grants for Special Education). Schools can also now leverage ESSER funds. We can work with you to identify funding options.

Illinois Tutoring Initiative

  • The NIU College of Education also has been awarded $3.4 million in federal pandemic relief dollars to serve as the coordinating hub for Region 2, which covers 16 counties in the northwest corner of the state, in the Illinois Tutoring Initiative.
  • Through this initiative, we will provide high-impact tutoring to students in high-need districts: funding at or below 75% adequacy; at least 40% low income; a disproportionate COVID impact; and a high percentage of remote days.

Learn more about the Illinois Tutoring Initiative.

Recruitment into the Teaching Profession

  • We invite you to partner with us to bring your middle school and high school students to our campus to envision their future as educators – or let us bring our academic advisors and current licensure candidates to your building.
  • You can connect your Educator Rising or Future Teachers Club with ours for team-building and collaboration.
  • You can send your upperclassmen with leadership abilities to our campus for hands-on demonstrations and practice of how they can enhance those skills through activity and sport.
  • We can work with you to define your Career Pathway Endorsement in education to provide seamless entry into teacher education at NIU for your students.

And, beyond these experiences, we can work with you to create innovative programming within your district so that your students interested in teaching have a reason to come back to your district when they graduate.

Contact Chris Lowe, our assistant director for Student Success, at for more information.

Dream Big: We'll Dream with You

Do any of these ideas appeal to you? What ideas do you have? Are you up for a little brainstorming with us? We want to match our resources with your needs, and we're eager to explore what's possible.

Please let us know how we can team with you to improve the outcomes for your students, teachers and staff.

Together, we can accomplish so much.