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UNC Receives Grant That Will Help Strengthen Colorado's Teaching Workforce

Student in UNC's CUE program working in a classroom

September 3, 2021

The University of Northern Colorado (UNC) was selected in a highly competitive grant process, as a recipient of a $850,000 Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI) Back to Work grant. The funding will provide new career paths for workers displaced by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic while also addressing the need for teachers in Colorado’s classrooms. 

As the state-designated teacher preparation college for Colorado, UNC is uniquely positioned to focus on strengthening Colorado’s teaching workforce, a sector that was already experiencing shortages before the pandemic. 

The university will use the funding, which includes $600,000 in financial support for students, $225,000 for “wrap-around” student support services, and $25,000 for outreach and recruitment efforts, to expand their innovative Center for Urban Education (CUE) program. 

CUE provides on-ramps to teaching careers for non-traditional students with a hybrid model, which splits each student’s day between real-world clinical experience in Denver schools in the morning, and bachelor’s level coursework at the Denver Lowry Center in the afternoon.  

As a result, CUE’s students — more than 70% of whom are people of color, and 94% of whom are first-generation college students — will have spent more than 3,000 hours in the classroom by the time they graduate. The state’s requirement for an education degree is just 800 hours. It’s a program that works: 80% of students complete a teaching credential within two years of enrollment and 99% are placed in a job upon graduation, primarily within Colorado. 

The Back to Work grant will make it possible for CUE to amplify its efforts to address not only the shortage of teachers in the state, but also the shortage of teachers of color in Colorado’s diverse classrooms. Almost half of Colorado’s students are students of color, only about 10% of Colorado’s teachers are teachers of color. In Denver Public Schools, 75% of students identify as students of color and only 27% are teachers of color. 

The grant will be awarded over three years and aims to see 225 students complete their degrees. 

“The COSI Back to Work grant will provide the CUE with substantial resources to increase the number of teacher candidates served. The CUE works closely with school district leaders and school principals to produce teacher candidates who are confident and competent in urban classrooms,” CUE Director Roseann Fulton says.  

To learn more about the Center of Urban Education and the COSI Back to Work Scholarships, contact Fulton at rosanne.fulton@unco.edu or call (303) 637-4334. 

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