Spring 2021 Request for Proposals

Expanding Educator Diversity

The McElhattan Foundation is expanding its education program grantmaking to accelerate equity in learning spaces in Allegheny County. Specifically, the Foundation will support initiatives aimed at Expanding Educator Diversity, beginning with the Spring 2021 grant cycle.

We believe that excellent teachers and leaders are key to unlocking powerful learning experiences. Research shows that all students thrive when their educators are racially and ethnically diverse. This is especially true for students of color. The presence of teachers of color contributes to positive academic and non-academic outcomes (reduced absenteeism, increased admission to gifted programs, reduced dropout rates; increased likelihood to enroll in four-year college) for students of color. Simply put, teachers should reflect the diversity of the student body. 

However, while students of color account for 33% of learners in the Pittsburgh region, the overwhelming majority of educators in Allegheny County - 96% - are white. This lack of diversity widens the racial achievement gap and hinders the learning outcomes of our region’s children. It also plays a part in disincentivizing youth of color from pursuing careers in teaching. While our goal is clear--to increase the number of educators of color in our region--we understand the complexity of the challenge we face in achieving this goal. We recognize that expanding educator diversity is a pipeline problem, exacerbated by a history of systemic racism that shows up in policies, curricula, and culture. As we invest in this focus area, we seek to support and learn from leaders of color and organizations with a demonstrated commitment to addressing this issue. We remain open to implementing a variety of short- and long-term strategies to achieve our goal.

For Spring 2021, the McElhattan Foundation is accepting proposals, by invitation only, from universities based in southwestern Pennsylvania with accredited teacher preparation programs. Proposals must describe plans to meet the following goals:

  1. Increase the number of students of color successfully graduating from teacher preparation programs;
  2. Increase the number of these graduates who become teachers in a high-need school in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Applicant training programs can offer undergraduate and/or graduate degrees in education (including elementary, middle, and/or high school education). Teacher training programs must offer relevant, student-centered curricula and instruction that employ a social and racial justice framework. University applicants must identify at least one high-need school and/or district with whom to partner and submit a collaborative proposal to the Foundation. Partnerships among institutions of higher education are also encouraged.

The ideal program will include:

  • Funding to cover the full cost of student enrollment, tuition, and other university fees. Programs should demonstrate their ability to support student needs beyond tuition scholarships and loans. Students often require support for entrance applications and exams, living expenses, technology, childcare, eldercare, transportation, etc.—we expect programs to anticipate meeting these needs. The goal is to enroll students of color and ensure they graduate.
  • Evidence of shared power, responsibility, and flexibility among project partners and participants, with a commitment to engaging all parties in program design, iteration and implementation, and evaluation.
  • Evidence of long-term mentorship for graduates to support their transition to the classroom and encourage their retention and advancement in the educator workforce.

The McElhattan Foundation anticipates funding one proposal with a four-year term and a maximum investment not to exceed $2 million.
The LOI deadline is December 11, 2020.