PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI/AP) — The Rhode Island Foundation is providing Providence Public Schools with a $3.1 million grant to increase the number of teachers belonging to minority group in the district.
R.I. Foundation President and CEO Neil Steinberg said about 80% of the district’s roughly 24,000 students are people of color while only about 20% of teachers are.
“The benefits of a diverse faculty are well documented,” Steinberg said. “Research confirms that when taught by a teacher of color, students of color experience higher reading and math test scores, higher graduation rates, decreased dropout and discipline rates and increased enrollment in advanced courses.”
Providence Public Schools will use the funding to offer a collage loan repayment incentive of up to $25,000 over the first three years of employment to new teachers who identify as Black, Asian, Indigenous, Latino or multi-racial.
“Closing the diversity gap is one of the most impactful ways we can support student achievement and make our schools more equitable,” Providence Superintendent Harrison Peters said.
The district hopes to hire more than 125 minority teachers over the next five years. It usually hires 175 new teachers a year to fill vacancies, according to district officials.
“Building a more diverse educator workforce is essential because data shows there is immense power in a student learning from someone who looks like them and is familiar with their experiences,” R.I. Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green said.
This incentive will be on top of the standard compensation package that the district offers all of its teachers.