Providence schools get $3M grant to boost teacher diversity
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Providence public school system is getting a $3.1 million grant that will help it improve teacher diversity through a college loan repayment incentive program, officials said Monday.
The grant from the Rhode Island Foundation will enable the state’s largest school district to offer up to $25,000 in loan repayment incentives over the first three years of employment to new teachers who identify as Black, Asian, Indigenous, Latino or multi-racial.
About 80% of the district’s roughly 24,000 students are people of color while only about 20% of teachers are, foundation President and CEO Neil Steinberg said in a statement.
“Research confirms that when taught by a teacher of color, students of color experience higher reading and math test scores, higher graduation rates, decreased dropout and discipline rates and increased enrollment in advanced courses,” he said in a statement.
The Providence Public School District hopes to hire more than 125 teachers over the next five years through the program. The district typically hires about 175 new teachers a year.
“Closing the diversity gap is one of the most impactful ways we can support student achievement and make our schools more equitable,” schools Superintendent Harrison Peters said.
Participants are eligible to have up to $6,000 of their college loan debt paid off after completing year one of teaching, up to $8,500 after completing year two, and up to another $10,500 after completing year three.
“Building a more diverse educator workforce is essential because data shows there is immense power in a student learning from someone who looks like them and is familiar with their experiences,” state Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green said. “This investment will allow more students of color to see greater possibilities for themselves in the classroom and beyond.
The money was raised through donations from Judith and William Braden, Nancy and Charlie Dunn, Ruth and Jonathan Fain, Bhikhaji Maneckji, the Papitto Opportunity Connection, the Partnership for Rhode Island, The Stonehouse Mountain Family Fund and Jyothi and Shivan Subramaniam.