Biden Admin Revives Teacher-Training Grant Program for HBCUs, Tribal Colleges

Nearly $8 million in grants will go to institutions educating a diverse K-12 teacher workforce.

Updated August 30, 2022

Edited by Alex Pasquariello
Biden Admin Revives Teacher-Training Grant Program for HBCUs, Tribal Colleges
HBCUs Higher Ed Policy
Photo by Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun / Tribune News Service / Getty Images

  • The longstanding Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence (Hawkins) program focuses on increasing the diversity of teachers in K-12 classrooms.
  • Funds will go to historically Black and tribal colleges and universities, and other minority-serving institutions with comprehensive teacher-prep programs.
  • Another goal of the program is to train more bilingual teachers.

President Joe Biden this month revived a long-dormant grant program that will award nearly $8 million to universities educating a diverse K-12 teacher workforce.

The Department of Education (ED) announced Aug. 19 that it will soon begin taking applications for the Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence (Hawkins) program, which supports teacher preparation programs at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and tribal colleges and universities (TCUs).

The $7.92 million appropriation in Biden’s 2022 budget marks the first time the federal government has funded the program since its creation in 2008.

“At a time when we need to do more to support our teachers and the educator profession, Hawkins Centers of Excellence will help increase the number of well-prepared and qualified teachers, including teachers of color, in our workforce,” ED Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

The funds will be used to educate a teacher workforce demographic that more closely mirrors that of the children being taught, according to the statement.

While more than 50% of public school students in 2018 were students of color, only 21% of teachers were people of color, according to ED. Additionally, more than 10% of K-12 students are English learners, but most states face a shortage of bilingual and multilingual teachers prepared to teach these students.

The following types of institutions may apply for a Hawkins program grant, according to an ED description of the program:

  • HBCUs
  • Hispanic-serving institutions
  • TCUs
  • Alaska Native-serving institutions or Native Hawaiian-serving institutions
  • Predominantly Black institutions
  • Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions
  • Native American-serving nontribal institutions

HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs award just over 12% of all bachelor's degrees in education. These institutions account for over 40 percent of all education degrees awarded to teachers of color, according to ED’s notice for accepting applications.

Schools must use grant money to develop “evidence-based, comprehensive teacher preparation programs that provide extensive clinical experience,” according to ED’s statement. Clinical experience may include residencies where students serve as substitutes or tutors.

The department added that teachers who enter the profession through these “comprehensive pathways” are two to three times more likely to remain in the profession than teachers who don’t.

The estimated average size of a grant is expected to be just under $1.6 million per institution.

Secretary Cardona and President Biden have seemingly prioritized elevating the teaching profession in recent months as staffing shortages hurt the country’s public school system. In early June, Cardona laid out a vision to support teachers and the profession that included a call for colleges to help prepare the next wave of teachers.