Celebrating Rural Teacher Corps!

Incredible progress made possible through the Catalyst Grant Initiative

February 14, 2023 |
inaugural cohort of Eastern Oregon University rural teacher corps

Pictured is the inaugural cohort of Eastern Oregon University’s new MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) rural teacher corps. To learn more about each of the twelve participants, please read this quick summary, featuring a short bio from each.

The recruitment, preparation, and retention of visionary teacher-leaders is central to Rural Schools Collaborative’s mission of building sustainable rural communities. Rural teachers play a vital role in their community, and are in short supply; without strong schools, rural communities struggle to thrive. To this aim, RSC and our partners have advocated for pathways that intentionally train and support rural educators through Rural Teacher Corps programs, supporting over a dozen rural advocate organizations covering 30 states.

“The common narrative for rural students is you have to leave to find success and a career. Having a Rural Teacher Corps and encouraging folks to teach in rural schools creates stronger, more vibrant, more equitable rural places.”

The Catalyst Grant Initiative provides $25,000 planning grants to rural-serving institutions to launch new Rural Teacher Corps initiatives. Flexible dollars are hard to come by, but thoughtful planning is necessary for long term program success and sustainability. Each rural teacher corps is designed with the unique assets and needs of the local community - it should not be a one-size-fits-all approach. Planning grants serve as a "vote of confidence" that attract additional matching funding and local buy-in.

“I want to show students that just because they're from that little, small town doesn't mean that they can't do great things. I want to be their motivator and supporter.”

Since the launch of the Catalyst Grant Initiative, there has been amazing progress in creating rural teacher pathways across the country.

  • There has been a 19% enrollment increase at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville School of Education after one year

  • $50,000+ in matching funds were raised in year one by Eastern Oregon University, tripling the initial investment;

  • The planning grant to the University of Mary allowed them to access $575,000 in state grants for rural teacher programs;

Overall, 119 Students are currently involved in a Catalyst Grant Rural Teacher Corps program, with 179 students engaged through these planning grants alone - that's nearly 200 new rural teachers in just two years!

“Growing up in a remote community with a parent that was a teacher in a one-room school, I saw first-hand the impact that educators have on a rural community. This upbringing solidified my passion for giving back and providing service to rural communities.”

We are grateful for our partners that make this possible, and ask you to join us in saying thanks and celebrating the success of Rural Teacher Corps programs and planning grants such as those provided through the Catalyst Grant Initiative. Together, we are creating vibrant and sustainable rural communities.

Pictured is the University of Indianapolis-CELL’s rural place-based education workshop, a key stepping stone to the final design for their Rural Teacher Corps.

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