Oakland Teachers: Apply for the Oakland Educator Retention Grant Program
Support Teacher Satisfaction & Retention in Your School Sites
Today we, the Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group, are fired up to mark Teacher Appreciation Day by announcing a first-of-its-kind grant program for Oakland teachers, designed by Oakland teachers. This program will provide up to $100,000 in funding to Oakland public school educators in district and charter schools to design and pilot strategies to improve teacher satisfaction and retention in their schools during the 2016-17 school year.
We want to share a little bit about who we are, why we developed this grant program, and what we’re hoping to catalyze by putting resources directly into the hands of local teachers and empowering them to develop innovative approaches to job satisfaction and teacher retention in their schools.
We talked with Sara Solar, facilitator of the Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group, about our experience designing the grant program.
Oakland Educator Retention Grant Program
Sara Solar, Educate78:
What is the Teacher Advisory Group?
Sharon Gray, Frick: We are 20 Oakland public school teachers from district and charter schools across the city. For the past several months we’ve come together as part of the Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group, to develop initiatives to support greater teacher retention across our city.
What led you to decide to create a grant program for Oakland educators?
Jennie Herriot-Hatfield, Think College Now: We wanted to put resources directly into teachers’ hands because we believe teachers best understand their needs. They have a better understanding of what will have a meaningful impact on their job satisfaction and what will influence their decision to continue teaching in Oakland.
Nina Portugal, Life Academy: Providing teachers with resources to make decisions about what will best serve them is professionalizing. Most grants available to teachers are focused on student outcomes. We wanted to create a grant program that would bring the focus explicitly to teacher outcomes as well, especially given the high turnover rates in Oakland. Our students’ learning depends on great teachers every year and right now we lose too many of them.
Antoinette Strain, Greenleaf: Oakland educators are hard-working, dedicated professionals who use their brain power and hearts to serve students and families as best they can, despite multiple challenges. They are relentless when it comes to ensuring that their students have access to the opportunities they deserve. We believe that Oakland teachers, given their strengths in creativity and problem-solving, are the best people to tackle issues surrounding teacher retention and sustainability. The grant program is one way to affirm the value of Oakland teachers and empower them to give the same thought and care they give to their students to themselves and their colleagues.
What was your experience as an Oakland teacher designing the grant program for other Oakland teachers?
Emma Coufal, Think College Now: The most challenging part was wanting to create a grant proposal process that supports teacher-led pilots and is feasible for busy teachers to complete! We want the process to be meaningful for teachers, to really advance their core work, not just be another thing on their to-do list. We worked hard to create a grant proposal that supports good planning but isn’t overly burdensome for teachers.
Sharon Gray: We also really wanted to allow teachers to be creative in identifying needs and designing pilots that meet the needs at their school sites. It needs to fit in with what else is going on at the school, it needs to meet the specific teachers’ needs at the site, and it needs to push innovation a step forward at that school site, which may be different from the school down the street.
What advice do you have for other Oakland teachers deciding whether or not to apply for a grant?
Nina Portugal: Get with colleagues and really discuss what you truly need to feel supported and professionalized in your school sites. We’re great at analyzing our students’ data and identifying strategies to support their learning based on where they are. This is our chance as teachers to do the same thing for us. What has retention looked like at your school? What are the needs identified in the data? Interview colleagues and ask: what is driving those trends? Start by seeing if there are other teachers at your site also fired up to focus on teacher satisfaction and retention.
Jennie Herriot-Hatfield: We’re using the design thinking process to support teachers in creating grant proposals. You don’t have to know what design thinking is to get started — just come with an open mind and a commitment to improving teacher satisfaction and retention! I absolutely love design thinking because it gets you thinking deeply about what the need is and how you can address that need creatively.
Sharon Gray: Grant applications can be overwhelming, especially for busy teachers. If you’re interested in participating at all, take a look at the grant overview details and fill out the interest form. We’ll get in touch right away to answer any questions and share how you can get support through this process.
What support is available to Oakland educators who want to apply for a grant?
Emma Coufal: Grant design teams can participate in two optional but strongly recommended workshop sessions: Designing a Retention Program Using Design Thinking Workshop in May and a Writing a Strong Grant Proposal Workshop in June.
We’re so excited to launch this grant program and to support Oakland teachers to create solutions that improve their satisfaction and retention in schools across the city!
Complete information on the Oakland Educator Retention Grant Program
Think College Now
Frick Middle School
Think College Now
We are members of the Oakland Teacher Advisory Group convened by Educate78. For a full list of members representing public schools across Oakland, visit the Teacher Advisory Group page. We are designing teacher-led initiatives across the city to improve teacher satisfaction and retention.