Funding opportunities to diversify the teacher workforce

Research has demonstrated time and time again that all students thrive when exposed to teachers with more diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. A recent guidebook from the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools aims to support local educational agencies in their efforts to recruit and retain a more diverse workforce with an influx of state and federal funding.

Despite a severe nationwide teacher shortage, LEAs can take strategic and meaningful action to increase access and opportunity by shifting policy, practice and funding priorities in order for diversity initiatives to be both effective and sustainable, according to the report, A Funding Guide for More Diverse Schools in California.

Among the key funding sources highlighted in the guidebook:

The California Teacher Residency Grant Program can be used to establish, expand, strengthen or improve access to existing programs that support local efforts to recruit, develop support systems for, provide outreach and communication strategies to, and retain a diverse teacher workforce that reflects a community’s diversity. LEAs can be awarded up to $25,000 for each candidate in the residency program through June 2026.

Funds can be used to develop robust resident recruitment pipelines focused within communities, including paraprofessionals and after-school program staff, and to incentivize expert teachers of color to serve as mentor teachers. “Form a strong collaborative partnership between [an institute of higher education] and LEA to guide the work of the residency program that includes representatives of color,” the report suggests. “In partnership, develop a clear vision for the residency that prioritizes developing a diverse teacher workforce and developing teachers who are well prepared to serve students of color.”

The California Classified School Employee Teacher Credentialing Program makes available up to $24,000 over five years to LEAs per candidate to support interested classified staff, such as paraprofessionals or tutors, in earning their teaching credentials and continue serving their district as teachers. The funds are available for expenditure or encumbrance through June 2026.

“Classified school employees, as a group, make up the most diverse segment of the professional school community,” the guidance states. “Paraprofessionals, support staff, and service classified staff already working within schools, tend to serve in the communities in which they live and have strong ties to their students and families, making this group ideal candidates for the teaching profession.”

In addition to these and several other funding streams that LEAs can tap into to support efforts in diversifying their workforce, the guidebook includes sections outlining allocations and grants for individual applicants such as prospective teachers, teacher candidates or current teachers, as well as allocations that support professional development for teachers.

Read the full guidebook here.