NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — Illinois State University (ISU) was one of four universities to receive Early Childhood Faculty Preparation Grants from the Illinois Board of Higher Education Thursday.

According to a press release, $3.37 million in grant funding will be going to public and private universities across Illinois to implement programs of study for a diverse population of working adults interested in becoming early childhood faculty.

“Nearly two months ago, I announced Smart Start Illinois—my administration’s plan to eliminate childcare deserts and make our state the best place in the nation for early childhood education. But adding preschool seats only works if you have the staff to support them,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “These Early Childhood Faculty Preparation Grants will help expand our pool of providers—all while providing new opportunities for a diverse set of prospective early childhood educators. This is how we create a quality, equitable early childhood education system that works for everyone—no matter their background or zip code.”

The grants will support scholarships for 78 students to earn their master’s degrees. Those who enroll in the program are expected to graduate in the summer of 2024.

ISU was awarded $800,753 in grant funding to help implement these programs. University of Illinois Chicago, Lewis University and National Louis University also received funding.