Increasing the quantity and quality of K-12 STEM teachers is a red-hot funding area in STEM education. Consider, for example, the Carnegie-sponsored 100Kin10 initiative, which strives to train 100,000 new science, technology, engineering, and math teachers by 2021.
For the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), cultivating K-12 science and math teachers is its raison d'etre. Since 2007, the Dallas-based foundation has brought together business leaders, philanthropists, and government officials around the shared goals of improving student achievement in science and math, and increasing the number of high-quality math and science teachers in elementary and secondary schools.
NMSI's signature approach to teacher preparation is the UTeach program, created at the University of Texas in Austin and available at a network of participating universities. Recently, NMSI announced the expansion of UTeach to five additional universities, each of which will receive $1.45 million over a five-year period to fund implementation costs.
NMSI is a pass-through funder rather than an endowed STEM education funding source. In 2013, NMSI teamed with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a funder with more than a passing interest in STEM education, to give a big boost to a major teacher training program. HHMI awarded $22.5 million for UTeach.
With the recent expansion, UTeach will be in 44 universities in 21 states and the District of Columbia. The newest additions are George Washington University, Louisiana Tech, University of Massachusetts at Boston, West Virginia University, and the University of Nevada at Reno.
UTeach recruits STEM majors into teaching careers by helping them complete both a STEM degree and a teaching certificate without additional time or cost. UTeach also supports retention of these new teachers with professional development and other activities.
This initiative between NMSI and HHMI is an example of how foundations with shared interests can align their work to boost their impact. NMSI has a central focus on K-12 STEM education, while HHMI is known for its efforts to improve the quality of college-level math and science instruction. The demand for high-quality math and science teachers in K-12 schools is unlikely to decrease, meaning a continued need for teacher preparation efforts such as UTeach and support from funders interested in STEM education.