Media release

Rhode Island Foundation raises $3.1 million to increase the number of teachers of color in Providence public schools

Providence Public Schools, RIDE will use the funding to hire more than 125 teachers of color over the next five years

The Rhode Island Foundation has raised $3.1 million to increase the number of teachers of color in Providence public schools. Students of color represent 80 percent of enrollment in the district while just 20 percent of teachers are members of minority groups.

“The benefits of a diverse faculty are well documented. Students can be inspired in new ways when their classrooms include role models who look like them."

- Neil D. Steinberg, Foundation president and CEO

He continued, “Research confirms that when taught by a teacher of color, students of color experience higher reading and math test scores, higher graduation rates, decreased dropout and discipline rates and increased enrollment in advanced courses.”

The funding will be used to offer candidates a college loan-repayment incentive totaling up to $25,000 over the first three years of employment. The incentive will be in addition to the standard compensation package that the Providence Public School District (PPSD) offers all teachers.

The district hopes to hire more than 125 minority teachers over the next five years through the program. PPSD hires approximately 175 new teachers a year, generally to fill vacancies due to retirements or movement to other districts.

“Closing the diversity gap is one of the most impactful ways we can support student achievement and make our schools more equitable. I want to thank the Rhode Island Foundation for recognizing the importance of this work and helping us hire talented educators of color here at PPSD.”

- Harrison Peters, Providence superintendent of schools

Full-time teachers who identify as Black, Asian, Indigenous, Latino or multi-racial are eligible for the loan repayment program. They must be new hires to Providence public schools—current teachers are not eligible.

This initiative builds off of the work of the R.I. Department of Education (RIDE) has done to convene and retain educators of color statewide in Rhode Island.

“Building a more diverse educator workforce is essential because data shows there is immense power in a student learning from someone who looks like them and is familiar with their experiences."

- Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green

She continued, "This investment will allow more students of color to see greater possibilities for themselves in the classroom and beyond. We’re deeply appreciative of the Rhode Island’s Foundation’s partnership and the generosity of donors in helping to attract more educators of color to serve Providence’s diverse student population.”

The goal is to recruit approximately 25 new teachers of color a year for five years beginning in the 2021-22 academic year. Participants are eligible to have up to $6,000 of their college loan debt paid off after completing year one of teaching, up to an additional $8,500 after completing year two and up to another $10,500 after completing year three.

“We’re grateful to the passionate donors who joined with us to enable PPSD and RIDE to embrace this opportunity to continue improving the educational success of the city’s students,” said Steinberg.

The donors are Judith and William Braden, Nancy and Charlie Dunn, Ruth and Jonathan Fain, Bhikhaji Maneckji, the Papitto Opportunity Connection, the Partnership for Rhode Island, The Stonehouse Mountain Family Fund and Jyothi and Shivan Subramaniam.

The initiative is just the latest in a string of programs the Foundation has funded in partnership with the district to increase the number of educators of color.

PPSD is using a multi-year $220,000 grant from the Foundation to hire a Diversity and Pipeline Design Specialist to coordinate all efforts related to the recruitment of teachers of color, including collaborating with existing teacher certification programs and developing supports for retention.

In addition, The Equity Institute received a $125,000 grant to help a diverse group of non-certified teaching assistants to become state certified teachers in partnership with College Unbound.

“Achievement gaps are real. Taking on the challenge in new ways will enable Providence to diversify its teaching force, which ultimately will improve student outcomes in the short and long term,” said Steinberg.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $68 million and awarded a record $87 million in grants in 2020. Since its centennial five years ago, the Foundation has awarded more than $284 million in grants and has raised more than $328 million. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.