Starting with the fall 2023 semester, Western Illinois University will be offering full scholarships to 24 teacher education students in the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) over the next five years. These scholarships are made possible by a $1.4 million National Science Foundation (NSF) NOYCE STEM Teacher Scholarship Track I grant that WIU has received in partnership with Black Hawk College and five local high-needs school districts.

The grant will finance an average of two and a half years of scholarship support to 24 NOYCE scholars to complete an undergraduate degree in secondary education teacher licensure in science or mathematics. The students will be recruited from the current WIU STEM student population and incoming transfer students from Black Hawk College.

James Rabchuk, assistant dean of WIU’s College of Arts and Sciences and the principal investigator (PI), along with co-PIs Susan Brooks, Denny Barr, Robert Mann and Jacob Winters, applied for the grant, titled “Building a Pathway for Recruiting and Preparing STEM Teachers in Rural West Central Illinois.” They received funding to create a new scholarship program geared towards recruiting, supporting, training and placing STEM educators in high-needs school districts around the region, state and country.

“We are currently facing a tremendous shortage of teachers, particularly in the sciences and mathematics,” said Rabchuk. “Our proposal represents a region-wide collaboration between the Colleges of Arts and Sciences and Education and Human Services at WIU and Black Hawk College, along with the Galesburg, Macomb, Bushnell-Prairie City, Fulton County and Moline-Coal Valley School Districts. Through this program, we can provide scholarships for at least 24 NOYCE scholars that will help cover the entire cost of education starting their junior year at WIU as they complete their Secondary Science or Secondary Mathematics Education programs. At least six of those scholars will be transfer students from Black Hawk College.”

“We are amazed and humbled by the NSF’s support for our project and their confidence in our ability to carry it out and make a very positive impact going forward on STEM education in Illinois and beyond. We will be working closely with our partners and with the NSF as we begin the process of turning our vision into reality,” he said.

Students in the NOYCE program take part in a variety of seminars and activities to prepare them to be effective teachers, including a seminar on teaching in high-needs districts, STEM teaching workshops, summer research experiences, in-depth mentoring and advising and test preparation for content exams. Students can participate in the new Learning Assistant program at Black Hawk College, use agreements to facilitate transfers and receive support from advisors. After graduation, scholarship recipients may also receive small grants for equipment, mentoring, conferences, development opportunities and other relevant expenses. Students in the STEM disciplines must have a grade point average of at least 2.75 to apply and commit to teaching two years in a high-needs school district for every year of scholarship support they receive.

For more information on the program, email Rabchuk at or Mann at