Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education announced a new $8 million grant competition aimed at increasing the diversity of the teacher workforce and preparing teachers to meet the needs of our most underserved students.
Named for Augustus F. Hawkins, the first Black politician elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from west of the Mississippi River, the Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence (Hawkins) program supports comprehensive, high-quality teacher preparation programs at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs).
A priority in President Biden’s FY 22 budget proposal, this year marks the first time the Hawkins Program has received funding since its creation in 2008. In the 2022 omnibus, Congress appropriated $8 million for the grants, under Part B of the Higher Education Act of 1965.
“At a time when we need to do more to support our teachers and the educator profession, Hawkins Centers of Excellence will help increase the number of well-prepared and qualified teachers, including teachers of color, in our workforce,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “We know that teachers of color benefit not only students of color, but all students. When students of color can see their backgrounds and experiences reflected in their teachers, we see higher levels of student achievement and engagement in school, and more students aspiring to be teachers themselves one day.”
The Hawkins Program will focus on key aspects of a high-quality teacher preparation pipeline, including evidence-based, comprehensive teacher preparation programs that provide extensive clinical experience. Grants will fund applicants that propose to incorporate evidence-driven practices into their teacher preparation programs. Studies have shown that teachers who enter the profession through comprehensive pathways are 2 to 3 times more likely to remain in the profession compared to teachers who enter through less comprehensive pathways.
HBCUs, TCUs and MSIs prepare a disproportionate share of teachers of color. These colleges are uniquely positioned to recruit, prepare, and place teachers who will provide culturally and linguistically relevant teaching in underserved and hard-to-staff schools. Today’s teacher workforce does not reflect the demographics of the nation’s public school students. More than 50% of public school students are students of color, yet in 2017-18, the most recent year for which data were available, only 21% of teachers were teachers of color. And while English learners are the fastest growing public school student demographic, comprising more than 10% of America’s enrollment, most states face a shortage of bilingual and multilingual teachers prepared and qualified to teach this population and foreign languages. These roles are critical for ensuring Americans can compete in the increasingly globalized economy, equal access to education opportunity for English Learners, and the creation of a strong economy in which all Americans can thrive. As a result, the Notice Inviting Applications includes competitive priorities for applicants that propose projects designed to increase the number of well-prepared teachers from diverse backgrounds, as well as bilingual and multilingual teachers with full certification.
The Hawkins Program grant program builds on the Department’s efforts to strengthen and diversify the teacher pipeline, especially as states and districts work to meet their staffing needs. Augustus F. Hawkins’ public service included 56 years in the California Assembly and U.S. House of Representatives. Representative Hawkins guided countless pieces of legislation aimed at improving the lives of people of color and urban communities experiencing poverty. The Department is honored to implement this grant program and carry forward Representative Hawkins’ legacy.
An official notice inviting applications will be published in the coming days in the Federal Register.