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$300,000 grant announced to expand Waterloo Schools program with UNI to diversify teacher workforce

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WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) -- The Waterloo Schools Foundation announced a grant of $300,000 on Tuesday to expand a teaching partnership program between the Waterloo Community School District and the University of Northern Iowa. 

'Teach Waterloo' aims to diversify Waterloo's teacher workforce by providing opportunities for paraeducators and other support staff of color to earn teacher licensure through UNI.

Those involved in the program, known as fellows, commit to a three-year agreement with the district once they graduate. The program has mainly focused on elementary educators. 

The grant, which was made through the UNI Foundation, will go toward tuition scholarships for 12 new fellows. There are currently eight fellows in the program, and the first fellow graduated in the fall of 2020. Two more graduated in the spring of 2021. 

To qualify, they must be currently employed by the district, have an associates degree, and be recommended by a principal or administrator. 

“While the impact on our students is the reason why this work is so important, the impact that we are having on the individuals in the program and their families is immeasurable,” Kingsley Botchway II, chief officer of human resources & equity for WCSD, said. “The collaboration between the District, UNI and our financial supporters has made Teach Waterloo an amazing success – we appreciate the WaterlooSchools Foundation's vision in funding the next phase of our work.”

Dean of the UNI College of Education Colleen Mulholland says the program is needed to support their goals for paraeducators and the local teacher workforce.

“The Teach Waterloo program highlights our collective commitment to growing and diversifying the teacher workforce locally,” Mulholland said. “It takes an authentic, collaborative partnership like the one we have with Waterloo Schools to fine-tune our goal of a supportive and personalized paraeducator pathway to licensure. We are very proud of this work.”