ROMEOVILLE – State Senator Rachel Ventura commended the $358,390 grant awarded to Lewis University to expand the state’s pool of early childhood providers and increase faculty diversity in the field.

“Early childhood education is crucial to preparing kids for a bright future,” said Ventura (D-Joliet). “Having a more diverse faculty in place ensures that all the children of Illinois can relate and feel comfortable by those looking over and teaching them.”

The Illinois Board of Higher Education awarded $3.37 million in Early Childhood Faculty Preparation grants to four universities — including $358,390 to Lewis University — to implement programs of study for working adults from diverse backgrounds and those who work with diverse populations interested in becoming early childhood faculty.

The grants will fund scholarships and other academic and holistic supports for 78 students to earn master’s degrees.

“This grant expands the state’s goal of having high quality education across the board,” said Ventura. “I congratulate Lewis University on working toward a more well-rounded and diverse group of educators.”

The Early Childhood Faculty Preparation Grants are a part of the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity initiative, a key strategy in A Thriving Illinois, the state’s strategic plan for higher education. Those who enroll in the programs are expected to graduate by the summer of 2024.


SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Rachel Ventura passed bipartisan legislation that aims to alleviate truck collisions with underpasses or viaducts.

“Trucks collide with underpasses and viaducts far too often,” said Ventura (D-Joliet). “Providing additional warning signs will help alleviate this problem.”

Senate Bill 1653 would create the low-clearance early warning device pilot program. It would require IDOT to establish a program to put early warning devices on or near bridges or viaducts. Early warning devices will include LiDAR, radar, visual signals, or additional signage. LiDAR, or "light detection and ranging,” is a method for determining ranges by targeting an object with a laser and measuring the time for the reflected light to return to the receiver. These various warning devices would be tested within the pilot program.

The pilot program would evaluate the effectiveness of an early warning device, design specifications, and estimated costs. Additionally, IDOT would consult with the University of Illinois on the pilot program to brainstorm any other potential ideas to solve the problem.

“This is a great example of taking a local issue and turning it into law to help all of Illinois,” said Ventura. “Truck collisions like this impact the 43rd district more often as we have the largest inland port and several low clearance viaducts and bridges. However, across the state we see this problem including narrow width viaducts. It’s time to address effective ways to solve the issue at hand.”

Senate Bill 1653 passed Senate Friday and moves to the House for further consideration.


SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Rachel Ventura passed a measure through the Senate Thursday to expand science education in elementary schools.

“Creating human-centered education in science helps individuals to understand their bodies fully but also creates connections to other sciences potentially creating a strong interest and understanding,” said Ventura (D-Joliet). “We must empower kids to learn more about the human body and how it relates to higher sciences.”

Ventura’s measure would create the Science in Elementary Schools Working Group. The group, created by the Illinois State Board of Education, would add new science curriculum on topics such as anatomy, physiology, and nutrition. The expanded education would also help students understand their own bodies and care for their health and well-being throughout their lives.

By June 1, 2024, the Working Group would create a guide with links to available resources so elementary teachers have access to high quality, age-appropriate, and free educational materials. By Dec. 31, 2025 the working group would make recommendations to ISBE about further steps to take, which would be reviewed and updated at a minimum of every five years thereafter.

“We hope to empower students with the information they need that will stay with them throughout their whole life,” said Ventura.

Senate Bill 2354 passed the Senate and now heads to the House for further consideration.


SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Rachel Ventura passed legislation through the Senate that would lift the limits on hydropower plants in Illinois.

“Some parts of Illinois struggled to generate base load capacity last year, so the cost of electricity doubled for hardworking families,” said Ventura (D-Joliet). “We need to expand our renewable energy portfolio to include base load energy that is both clean and affordable like hydro.”

Currently Illinois is ranked 46th in the nation when it comes to hydropower. With the passage of Senate Bill 1474, Ventura hopes to advance Illinois on renewable energy.

Under Ventura’s measure, the Illinois Power Agency would be required to procure a percentage of its renewable energy credits from hydropower dams. This would help increase the use of this renewable energy source, while also promoting environmental conservation by using dams that already exist or using a turbine model along rivers like the Mississippi.

“Illinois would be able to tap into a reliable a proven source of renewable energy, while also supporting local economies and the environment,” said Belt (D-Swansea). “This represents a critical step towards achieving a more sustainable future for our state and ensuring a stable energy system for generations to come.”

This initiative is also aimed to support hydropower dams across the state including the Brandon Road Lock and Dam as well as potentially the Wilmington Dam, once operating. The Brandon Road Lock and Dam is a 93 acre complex along the Des Plaines River in Joliet, Illinois. This legislation will help the Joliet-surrounding area with abundant renewable energy.

“Illinois has the opportunity to lead the way in promoting sustainable energy practices through this measure,” said Joyce (D-Essex). “Not only would this increase the use of renewable energy, but it would showcase the importance of conservation by using resources that are already in place.”

“This legislation addresses the energy problem across the state,” said Ventura. “We will increase jobs, lower the price of energy and protect our planet with this measure in place.”

Senate Bill 1474 passed the Senate Thursday and heads to the House for further consideration.

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District Office:
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