Educator Pathway Program

From TA to BA: preparing a new generation of BIPOC educators and leaders

The research is clear: When we increase teacher diversity within schools, good things happen for kids—higher expectations, lower discipline referral rates, and better academic results for ALL students. And yet despite all that we know—and the growing diversity of the student population— teachers of color are still dramatically underrepresented in U.S. schools. 

The good news is there is a pool of talented BIPOC professionals who are ideally suited to become teachers—and education leaders. We created Equity Unbound to unleash their potential and start a movement.

Who are they? They are the paraeducators, teacher’s aids, student services coordinators, and administrative assistants who have been working in their neighborhood schools for years. They are multilingual, racially and ethnically diverse, live in the community, and have forged deep, trusting relationships with students. Many of them seek to grow into teacher roles, but they face significant barriers to obtaining their BA and teaching credential.

Group of educators discussing issues in education on a Zoom call

Participants meet each week to engage in learning experiences focused on race, identity, and culture in education. They also have opportunities to meet high-leverage individuals regularly to build relationships and learn.

Equity Unbound removes those barriers, offering a pathway to a college degree and teaching credential in less than three years. It is the result of a new collaboration between the Equity Institute, a Rhode Island-based education nonprofit, and College Unbound, an accredited postsecondary institution for returning adult learners. Their goals are simple:

  • Recruit, develop, support, and retain a more racially, linguistically, and ethnically diverse teacher workforce
  • Give more students of color the experience of being taught by teachers with similar backgrounds
  • Improve career choices/income for BIPOC professionals working in education
  • Develop a new generation of education leaders

Our participants are people who are already drawn to working with children. Many have held the same job for decades, and have formed close relationships with kids and families. It makes sense that there is a sizable number of folks in those roles who, given the right support and infrastructure, could become successful educators.

Carlon Howard

How It Works

Identify high potential BIPOC professionals to become top performing teachers

Equity Institute and College Unbound work with Rhode Island public schools to identify and recruit high potential teacher’s assistants and other school staff who are interested in becoming teachers. Fellows earn a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership and Change from College Unbound and a teaching certificate.

Meet adult learners where they are

Equity Unbound accommodates the needs of people juggling multiple responsibilities, and who have already gained significant, relevant work experience. Without programs like the Equity Unbound, many potential teachers would never get started, as they can’t leave their jobs to attend school full time. Some could choose to enroll in part-time college programs, but that path can take up to 8 years. College Unbound recognizes past college credits and life experiences, enabling most participants to earn their Bachelor’s degree within 2.5 years. Participants keep their current jobs at schools and take classes in evenings and on weekends.

Provide them with a network of support

Participants become part of a network that provides peer and advisory support. They attend a weekly class together, through the entire span of the program, to promote professional bonds, and have access to an extensive support community through EduLeaders of Color Rhode Island, a growing network of individuals working to improve education. Participants meet weekly with an advisor to discuss opportunities, challenges, and overall progress. After completing the program, graduates receive intensive support from the Equity Institute as they transition to full-time employment.

Anchor their experience in equity and justice

We specifically focus on racial justice in the classroom. Our program focuses on helping participants develop sociocultural consciousness, establish an affirming attitude towards students, and become agents of change.

Complete the contact form below to request more information.

Partner with Us

Join a growing community of educators, leaders, and advocates committed to promoting racial equity and diversity in their schools and communities.

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