PLEDGE Initiative


The NIU College of Education actively cultivates an equity-focused learning community that embraces diverse people, ideas and points of view. We are resolute in proactively meeting the changing educational and professional needs of students while advancing teaching, learning, research, practice and advocacy in our program.

Our PLEDGE (partnering to lead and empower district-grown educators) initiative takes our licensure programs to where the potential students are – and where they are needed.

Through this residency model, we are creating new teachers and administrators among people whose life circumstances of work and family might have prevented them from earning degrees away from home.

We currently partner with districts to:

  • Prepare principals for future leadership positions.
  • Prepare elementary education teachers with ESL/Bilingual endorsements.
  • Upskill paraprofessionals to special education teachers.
  • Identify funding opportunities to pay for PLEDGE cohorts.
  • Identify partnership opportunities to combine with other local districts to cost-share and fill a PLEDGE cohort.

Active PLEDGE cohorts are occurring in Rockford Public Schools 205, Rochelle Community School District 231 and Elgin Community College as well as in the Rockford area as a multi-district cohort.


Our PLEDGE initiative has grown to include a new LEAP (licensed educator accelerated program) cohort format that incorporates a prior learning assessment so working educators can receive credit for past work experiences.

This accelerated program format features eight-week course formats to meet the needs of working professionals.

Active PLEDGE LEAP cohorts are occurring in Rockford Public Schools 205 and Elgin School District U-46.


PLEDGE Program Impact

  • 109 Elementary Education Teachers
  • 31 Principals
  • 52 Special Education Teachers