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Warner & Kaine Announce Nearly $1.6 Million in Federal Funding to Address Teacher Shortages in Central Virginia

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $1,599,645 in federal funding through the Augustus F. Hawkins Center of Excellence program to address teacher shortages by supporting Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) RTR teacher residency program. The funding will be used to recruit and support more teacher candidates from diverse backgrounds and provide them with the skills they need to teach in high-need schools. It will provide training and development through the Virginia Adult Literacy Resource Center (VALRC) and Multilingual Ambassador Program (MAP) to prepare teachers to support bilingual and multilingual students and provide a pathway for bilingual and multilingual adults to become teachers. The program will also offer professional development and an alumni network to retain a diverse teaching workforce. The RTR program partners with Richmond, Petersburg, Chesterfield County, and Henrico County public schools.

“As Virginia and our nation face educator shortages, it’s critical that we’re recruiting more Americans to fill these roles and providing them with the skills they need to help our students succeed,” said the senators. “We’re glad this funding will help address teacher shortages and increase diversity in the teacher workforce to better meet students’ needs, especially in such a diverse community like Central Virginia.”

The funding was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence (Hawkins) program, which supports the establishment of centers of excellence at Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), like Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs) with a state-accredited teacher preparation program to help increase the number of well-prepared teachers, including teachers of color. VCU was designated an AANAPISI in 2022. The majority of students in our nation’s public schools are students of color, but the teaching workforce is only comprised of 20 percent teachers of color.

Warner and Kaine have long supported efforts to address the teacher shortage and expand diversity in the field. Kaine has introduced the PREP Act, which would address teacher and principal shortages, particularly in rural communities, and increase teacher diversity. Kaine also introduced the DIVERSIFY Act, which would strengthen the Teacher Education Assistance for College and High Education (TEACH) grant program, helping attract more teachers to the field and expand teacher diversity. Kaine has also introduced legislation to address educator shortages and increase children’s access to a diverse and well-prepared educator workforce by strengthening the federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.