Metro State receives $1.3 million grant to help increase teacher diversity

Increasing educator diversity

Increasing educator diversity

Tsala Grace started this school year in the classroom as a student teacher at Hall STEM Academy in Minneapolis. She expects to graduate in December with a kindergarten through 6th grade license.

She’s had a passion for education since childhood.

“All it takes is that one positive impact you have on their life and they will remember you forever,” Grace said.

She’s currently enrolled in Metro State University’s School of Urban Education (UED), which is working to increase teacher diversity. Students of color and American Indian students make up 57% of the program participants, and Metro State hopes to increase that to 75% within the next five years.

“I’ve had a lot of help,” Grace said. “The support from the teachers, they’re with you every step of the way, they want you to pass, they advocate for you.”

This year she received a scholarship to cover all tuition and fees. It was funded by a Collaborative Urban and Greater Minnesota Educators of Color Grant.

Metro State has been receiving grant funding through the program for eight years.

“I know so many people that have had to quit college due to not being able to afford it, having to work more than one job, and these grants have helped with me being able to continue my academic career,” she said. “I’m really grateful for that.”

Metro State recently learned it will receive a 2024 grant of $1.35 million — which is the largest yet — and will help additional aspiring teachers in the metro.

“What we proposed was to increase our enrollment by 130 in the first year and 150 in the second year of students receiving scholarships through this grant,” said Victor Cole, the director of recruitment, retention and induction for UED.

The grant program was established by the Legislature in an effort to increase diversity in Minnesota schools. According to the Minnesota Department of Education, 5.9% of the workforce identify as teachers of color or American Indian teachers, while 36.7% percent of students do.

“When students K through 6, or K through college, see people that look like them in positions of power and education and knowledge then they can see themselves, they empathize with that person,” Cole said. “What happens is that they are more invested in school because they can see themselves at the end whether that’s a classroom teacher, or a principal, or a dean of students.”

Grace hopes to become a full-time teacher at Hall STEM Academy and continue inspiring her students.

“To let them know you can do it no matter what you go through, it’s about how you come out of it,” she said.

For more information about how to become a teacher, click here.