Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Commits $9 Million to Expand Pathways for Educators, School Leaders of Color

Allison Shelley for EDUimages

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To ensure classroom leaders better reflect and support racially diverse students, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is distributing $9 million to 10 U.S. nonprofits.

The funding will cultivate career pathways for teachers and district leaders of color.

CZI co-founder and co-CEO Priscilla Chan announced the grants for racial diversity in education during the 49th annual National Alliance of Black School Educators conference late last week. 

“Not only do you help your students learn, but you also help them feel a deep sense of belonging in helping them become the young people who are curious, confident, and caring members of their own communities,” Chan said on Nov. 11.

From pre-service teacher education to professional support for Indigenous teachers moving into district and school board roles, grants ranging $175,000 to $2 million will support organizations in preparing and supporting historically excluded populations in K-12 leadership.

Though students of color make up 54 percent of the K-12 public school population, nearly half of schools are operating without any teachers of color.

CZI’s funding will also support The Hunt Institute in its policy advocacy to add 1 million teachers of color to schools by 2030 — the Institute will work with gubernatorial candidates on their education platforms and offer its state legislator retreat in more regions. The campaign, which launched during the social justice movements of summer 2020, would eliminate the educator diversity gap

A more diverse teacher workforce could result in big social, emotional and academic gains for an increasingly multiethnic and multilingual student population. Having had a Black teacher, students — particularly students of color — benefit from higher expectations, experience fewer suspensions and graduate high school at higher rates. 

Some grantees will also focus initiatives on helping teachers move into district, board and state leadership, and in turn, be able to support teachers of color implementing change. 

“My experience has been you get a phenomenal principal, or you get a handful of really great teachers or you have an out-of-this-world superintendent, and then when they retire or they move on or for whatever number reason, sometimes those great initiatives fall by the wayside. This is really about creating leader-full communities where, even as people move on … the work continues because the whole community is invested,” said Jonathan Santos Silva, executive director of The Liber Institute, which works with rural communities. 

The Institute is receiving $800,000 to train Indigenous students, families and leaders to competitively run for school board and district leadership. Their new programming has encouraged thought partnerships with Cambiar Education, the National Indian Education Association and, soon, tribal colleges and universities.

And for the Equity Institute, a Rhode Island-based nonprofit working with teachers to sustain antiracist learning and teaching environments, their $800,000 CZI grant means long-term growth. They’ll be able to hire more staff, enhance technology, evaluate and spread their work at a time it’s needed most. 

“We’re in a space and time where — because of COVID, because of the high profile incidents of police brutality and deaths at the hands of officers — that we have to be very, very intentional about how we share leadership and invite people to the table, into spaces where they have historically been neglected, isolated, disenfranchised,” Chief Impact Officer and Co-Founder Carlon Howard told The 74.

Disclosure: The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative provides financial support to The 74

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