The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded nearly $1.2 million in grants to improve student performance in Providence, Pawtucket, Newport and Central Falls schools.
Research has shown benefits, particularly for students of color, when students are matched with a teacher of their same race. Low-income Black students, for example, who have at least one Black teacher in elementary school are 29% less likely to drop out of high school, according to a Johns Hopkins report.
In the most recent RICAS results for Providence, only 12% of Hispanic students and 16% of Black students scored proficient on the ELA assessment compared to 30% of White students. In math the gap is even greater, with 9% of Hispanic and Black students scoring proficient compared to 25% of White students.
The recipients of the grants are Equity Institute, Rhode Island College, the University of Rhode Island, and the Central Falls School District.
The Equity Institute will receive $300,000 to establish a teacher apprenticeship program to recruit and train teacher assistants of color to be state certified teachers in Newport public schools. The partners include Apprenticeship Rhode Island, BloomBoard, the Teachers Association of Newport and Newport Public School District. The goal is to develop a federally approved apprenticeship program that can bring additional federal funding into the state.
The Feinstein School of Education and Human Development at Rhode Island College will receive nearly $300,000 to establish a Grow Your Own Equity Fellows Program (GYO) focusing on diversifying the workforce in career and technical education, with a focus on Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls schools. The goal is to train GYO participants to prepare high school students for college and a career in teaching.
The University of Rhode Island will receive $300,000 to enhance its own programs targeting students of color who plan to become teachers and to develop a teacher-preparation program at Highlander Charter School, including admissions testing assistance and promoting continuing education credits.
The Central Falls School District will receive $300,000 to integrate its Learning Pods Program, which pairs small groups of students with mentors from the community, into its strategic plan. The program prepares students to participate in teaching certification programs offered in the city.