school bus

Advocate file photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded nearly $13 million to six New Orleans universities and nonprofit groups to recruit and train nearly 900 teachers by 2020.

The money will go to Xavier and Loyola universities and the local nonprofits Teach for America Greater New Orleans, teachNOLA, Relay Graduate School of Education and New Schools for New Orleans, officials said Monday.

Patrick Dobard, the CEO of New Schools for New Orleans, said the grant is "critical" to address the city's teacher supply and training gaps. He said the city needs to hire between 700 and 800 teachers every year to make up for teacher attrition and rising enrollment.

"We’ve got to solve these challenges if we’re going to become a system that we envision, a system where every child deserves and will have the right to have a quality education," Dobard said.

Renee Akbar, the chairwoman of Xavier's Division of Education and Counseling, said each organization will use its share of the money to expand existing teacher training programs.

The goal, officials said, is to recruit more teachers from New Orleans and more teachers of color and to improve local teachers' "cultural competency."  

Officials said the grants for individual programs were based on how much money each organization is planning to match.

Xavier, which is taking the lead on organizing the initiative, will receive $3 million to put toward the Norman C. Francis Teacher Residency, a partnership between Xavier and New Orleans charter school management organizations. 

Teach for America will also get $3 million. The organization plans to use the money to prepare a racially and socioeconomically diverse corps of new teachers, officials said, through a process that includes observation and small-group professional development.

Relay Graduate School will use $2 million of the grant to recruit and develop novice teachers through a teaching residency. Residents serve as apprentice teachers in the first year and transition into lead teachers in the second.

Another $1 million will go to teachNOLA/The New Teacher Project to recruit and train teachers for placement in about 35 local schools. The program is designed to give teachers the skills required to work with high-need students.

Loyola will receive about $900,000 to recruit and train teachers through the school’s recently launched master of arts in teaching program, which prepares teachers to apply for certification in grades six to 12.

New Schools for New Orleans will receive about $900,000 to assist with overall citywide teacher recruitment efforts.

All the partners will meet quarterly to share ideas and discuss challenges.

Follow Della Hasselle on Twitter, @dellahasselle.