The University of Minnesota was recently awarded a Governor’s Emergency Educational Relief (GEER) Grant. GEER funding is a federal grant initiative to address emergency needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Co-PIs Provost Rachel Croson and CEHD Senior Associate Dean Deborah Dillon determined that the $104,156 award would be used to meet the needs of future teachers from the Twin Cities, Duluth, Crookston, and Morris campuses. This focus was selected because COVID-19 impacted—and will continue to impact—the progress of many teacher candidates who were in the midst of, or starting critical coursework that required clinical experiences and/or student teaching in PK-12 classrooms.
When candidates exited clinical placements and pivoted to online instruction, they were ill equipped with the technical equipment and tools needed to engage in University coursework, or work with PK-12 school mentors to deliver remote instruction to PK-12 learners (as part of program requirements). In addition, many candidates’ professional sustainability was challenged due to job loss during COVID (e.g., many were unable to pay tuition, had food and housing insecurity).
On November 25, $96,000 of grant money, in the form of 115 grants ranging from $500 to $1,500, was provided to teacher candidates across the four campuses. Specifically, 16 students from Crookston, 10 from Duluth, 11 from Morris, and 78 from the Twin Cities campuses received grants. Awards were based on an application process that mirrors current structures for ensuring fair and legally compliant selection of applicants who meet criteria. Preference was given to candidates who demonstrated need and who are student teaching during Spring 2021. Awardees are also individuals who will enhance the diversity of the Minnesota PK-12 teaching force and impact PK-12 education in schools with underrepresented populations.
CEHD Office of Teacher Education staff, including Stacy Ernst, Shuji Asai and Krista Overby, along with colleagues from the Morris, Duluth, and Crookston campuses, provided leadership for the application, screening, and individual award process.