Wednesday the Tennessee Department of Education announced $4.5 million in Grow Your Own grants has been awarded to establish partnerships between Educator Preparation Providers and local school districts and create innovative pathways to becoming a teacher in Tennessee for free.
This second round of Grow Your Own grants awards 45 grants of $100,000 each to 13 EPPs in Tennessee to form or expand state recognized Grow Your Own partnerships with more than 50 school districts across the state.
Building upon the momentum of the initial $2 million investment in the initiative, this latest round of grants from the department significantly expands the Grow Your Own program, totaling a $6.5 million investment in 65 partnerships between 14 EPPs and 63 school districts– enabling over 650 future educators to become a Tennessee teacher for free.
“The department is thrilled to see Grow Your Own partnerships flourishing across the state to further boost the state’s teacher talent pipeline to provide all our students with a high-quality education,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “This investment provides individuals with the opportunity to become a teacher for free and will continue to make Tennessee the best state to become and be a teacher. We are excited to continue to see the success of this program impact the state for years to come.”
The Grow Your Own competitive grants are designed to foster partnerships between EPPs and districts to provide innovative, no-cost pathways to the teaching profession by increasing EPP enrollment and growing the supply of qualified teachers. These grant funds will remove barriers to the teaching profession by providing funds to entirely cover tuition, textbooks, and fees for all selected participants, while providing dual licensure or initial licensure opportunities with an additional endorsement.
District leaders, education preparation program leaders, and education chairmen for the Tennessee General Assembly commented on the importance of this program and grant funding to further support the teaching profession across the state.
Tipton County has been partnered with Tennessee State University.
“We are looking forward to working with Tennessee State University as part of the Grow Your Own Partnership Grant sponsored by the TDOE,” said Dr. John Combs, Director of Schools, Tipton County Schools. “This opportunity will allow us to address areas of need in our district by increasing the availability of certified teachers in special education and ESL, while utilizing our outstanding educational assistants whose goal it is to become teachers for Tipton County Schools.”
The department’s Grow Your Own initiative seeks to increase access to and success in the teaching profession as part of the Best for All strategic plan, which sets a vision for Tennessee to be the top state to become and remain a teacher and leader.
Funding for the Grow Your Own competitive grant is available through federal COVID-19 stimulus funding.