Hofmeister announces $4.2 million grant to combat teacher shortage

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced today a $4.2 million grant awarded to the Oklahoma Chapter of Teach For America (TFA). The grant will help the organization launch a statewide strategy to increase school effectiveness, build a strong pipeline of educators and address pandemic-related learning loss.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) is using a portion of federal relief dollars to fund the three-year grant.

“We are thrilled to work with TFA to expand the footprint of their innovative and effective talent development model in our schools,” said Hofmeister. “Educators who work within the TFA model are results-driven individuals who connect deeply with students and families. These skills will be in high demand as we continue to leverage strategies to combat the teacher shortage, work to ensure students recapture unfinished learning and foster a sense of reconnection within school communities.”

With the funding, TFA will tap into its extensive nationwide alumni network for the recruitment and development of 50 teachers who will commit to working for two years in Oklahoma schools. Additionally, TFA will equip 75 aspiring school leaders with the tools and experience to one day lead schools of their own. The organization also plans to recruit up to 20 tutors per semester from colleges and universities to support schools in a variety of ways, including academic coaching and small-group instruction. This on-the-ground training will serve as a launchpad for local graduates to become part of the next generation of Oklahoma educators.

The grant will fund training for tutors and teachers. The latter will also receive signing bonuses, an annual stipend and possible incentive pay for placement in high-need districts and meeting student growth goals. School leaders will receive professional development, year-long internships in school leadership, tuition reimbursements or stipends and the potential for additional stipends for placement in high-need districts. Salaries and benefits for teachers and emerging leaders will be paid by the hiring district.

Officials say the new programs for Oklahoma teachers and leaders are in strong alignment with TFA’s mission to develop and sustain the next generation of education leaders in the state who will have the experience and potential to make a long-term commitment to public education.

“We are grateful to receive this generous grant to help us bring and develop more high-impact leaders to Oklahoma,” said Sarah Park, executive director of Teach For America Oklahoma City. “These next three years are crucial for teachers and school leaders to address learning loss and provide social-emotional support especially to students who have been most directly impacted by the pandemic. Additionally, we’re committed long-term to ensuring that more Oklahoma students are on track to reach key educational milestones.”

The TFA grant is a component of Ready Together Oklahoma: An Action Plan for Supporting Students Through the Pandemic and Beyond. The OSDE launched the recovery plan in May with a growing portfolio of online resources to support schools as they leverage the best uses of federal relief funds.