Grants for Your Education as a Teacher
Almost everyone can remember a teacher who made a big impact on them and opened doors for them. No other profession gives you the chance to affect others so deeply, and few other professions make the kind of demands on those who are called to enter it that teaching does. There is tremendous demand for qualified teachers in the United States. This has led to the creation of a number of Federal grant programs, as well as growth in the number of state and private funding opportunities. Often these grants and scholarships are aimed at reducing the shortage of teachers in specific states and regions, and accepting these funds obligates the student to teach in one of these areas for a certain period of time.
Federal and States Grants for Teacher Education
One of the first places a student should research is the U.S. Department of Education. In addition to the general Pell Grant and the Academic Competitiveness Grant, the department administers a couple of programs that have direct relevance to aspiring educators.
- The Teacher Education Assistance for College and higher Education (TEACH) Grant program is open to students who plan to teach at the elementary or secondary school level. This program awards grants of $4,000 per year on the condition that the student teach a high-need subject such as bilingual education, English, math, reading, science or special education, in an underserved school for a specified amount of time following graduation.
- Students who are majoring in one of the sciences, math, computer science, engineering or a foreign language are eligible for The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grant program. Although there is no teaching requirement attached to these valuable grants, for a student who plans to become a teacher, they can be a very important addition to their portfolio of funding. More information on both of these programs can be found at www.studentaid.ed.gov.
States are understandably concerned about the shortage of teachers in underserved areas and about the quality of teacher education. To address these issues, every state has some sort of teaching grant or scholarship for its residents. The place to begin a search is the state commission of higher education. A list of state agencies can be found at http://wdcrobcolp01.ed.gov/Programs/EROD/org_list.cfm?category_ID=SHE.
Funding from Professional Teachers Organizations
Grants and scholarships for students are also available from teachers’ organizations. Some of these organizations may require that the student, a parent, or a teacher be a member of the organization in order for the student to receive an award.
The National Education Association (NEA) offers funding opportunities for student teachers. First, the Learning and Leadership Grant is available to help both undergraduate and graduate student instructors fund professional development and research activities. Students can get more information about these generous grants at www.neafoundation.org. In conjunction with Bright Horizons family Solutions, the NEA also offers the National Early Childhood Education (ECE) Scholarship to undergraduates and graduate students. To be eligible for this scholarship, students must be enrolled in a degree program in ECE or a related field. The website for more information is www.brighthorizons.com.
Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) is a professional organization of teachers. Its foundation also sponsors the Future Educators Association (FEA). Together, these organizations provide around 30 scholarships to students working towards careers in teaching. The website is www.pdkintl.org/foundation.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) awards funding to undergraduates and graduate students via the Robert G. Porter Scholars program. Students can find more information at http://www.aft.org/benefits/scholarships/eligibility.cfm. The AFT also maintains a database of available funds for teachers at all stages of their education and career. Students can find this at www.aft.org/yourwork/tools4teachers/fundingdatabase.
Other Association and Corporate Grant Sources
The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) does not sound initially like a promising place to look for grants for student educators. But, in fact, part of the organization’s focus is to increase the ranks of teachers of STEM subjects. Each year, AFCEA awards 50 scholarships to undergraduate and graduate education students, as well as to students studying for teaching certifications. Visit http://www.afcea.org/education/scholarships/for more information.
Straightforward Media offers $500 scholarships to students planning to be teachers. Their website is www.straightforwardmedia.com.
The Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation (CKSF) awards scholarships to students who are not eligible for merit-based scholarships but who need assistance nonetheless. High school graduate, undergraduates and graduate students are all eligible. The website for more information is www.cksf.org.
The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) administers both the Gates Millennium Scholars Program and the UNCF/Merck Science Initiative. The Gates program, which is open to students at all stages in their education, is intended for students teachers and students majoring in STEM fields. The UNCF/Merck program is aimed at students who are interested in teaching bioscience. The UNCF has many general funding opportunities, as well. Their website is www.uncf.org.
The Coca-Cola Scholars program is open to high school graduates who plan to enter the arts, education, government or business. These scholarships are very competitive, but they are also very lucrative – awards range from $10,000 to $20,000. More information can be found at www.coca-colascholars.org.
This list is not intended to be comprehensive. It is intended to give students a good point of departure for their funding research and to give students an idea of the range of organizations that may offer funding for teacher education. By thinking creative and keeping an open mind, aspiring teachers can find a wealth of resources for funding their education without incurring large debt.