By Morgan Lawrence

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a nearly $13 million grant to a group of New Orleans universities and non-profits to recruit, prepare, and develop nearly 900 highly-effective, culturally competent teachers from diverse backgrounds by 2020.

The project establishes a unique and innovative partnership of teacher training programs, including two local universities – Xavier University of Louisiana and Loyola University New Orleans – and four New Orleans education non-profits – Teach For America Greater New Orleans, teachNOLA, and Relay Graduate School of Education, and New Schools for New Orleans. The partners will work together to address teacher pipeline challenges across the city, implementing their unique teacher preparation models to meet the needs of schools with high concentrations of High-Need Students while collaborating on best practices and problem-solving.

“The partnership that this award will help foster is an important step for our city,” said Dr. Renee Akbar, chair and associate professor of Xavier University’s Division of Education and Counseling. Xavier University will serve as the lead convener of each of the awardees. “We will come together across the full range of ways teachers are prepared to work in our city’s schools – residencies, university programs, and alternative routes.”

Xavier will recruit, prepare, and develop new teachers over the course of the grant through the Norman C. Francis Teacher Residency (NCFTR), a partnership between Xavier and New Orleans charter management organizations.

“Xavier is extremely proud to take the lead in this dynamic educational endeavor,” said Dr. Reynold Verret, President of Xavier University. “Developing a diverse pool of locally trained teachers is critical to the future of the educational system In New Orleans and to the success of our youth. We are grateful to the Department of Education supporting us in these efforts.”

Loyola will recruit and train teachers over the course of the grant through their recently launched Master of Arts in Teaching program, which prepares teachers to apply for certification in grades 6-12. The year-long program emphasizes competency-based skills, real-world applications, and includes significant advising and coaching for teachers.

“Expanding pipelines that will allow New Orleans to meet rising demand for excellent teachers is an urgent challenge,” said David B. Borofsky, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at Loyola University New Orleans.