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When grants turn goals into greatness: EP receives Teacher Mentorship and Retention Grant to fulfill strategic mission

The work to end achievement disparities is part of Eden Prairie Schools' Strategic Plan, and a primary way the district has worked to end these disparities is by hiring and retaining new teachers and teachers of color.

New funding was recently made available through a grant awarded to Eden Prairie Schools, aimed at promoting the hiring and mentorship of staff of color as well as retaining staff who contribute to the achievement of the district’s mission. 

Eden Prairie Schools will use the $193,670 awarded from the Professional Educator and Licensing Standards Board (PELSB) toward efforts that support new teachers and teachers of color. It is a big win for the Personalized Learning Department, who submitted the grant proposal, and the school district, for it allows funds to be used to further our work in inspiring each student, every day. 

Instructional Excellence Coordinators Aaron Monson and Tova Werlinger wrote the grant to focus on supporting each student’s needs while also highlighting the need to promote hiring staff of color. More information on the specifics of the grant can be found below.

Support each student’s needs

The Teacher Mentorship and Retention Grant is aimed towards new teachers and teachers of color (which includes American Indian teachers) in their beginning years. In alignment to our strategic plan, the stipends are provided for new teachers, mentors and mentors for teachers of color that are new to our system.

Promote hiring staff of color

Systemic disparities in the hiring and retention of staff of color has been a long-standing issue for decades and longer. Researchers in a recent Harvard Business Review article explained that “when given an opportunity to take a bold stand on creating systemic safety nets, we can attempt to uplift employees and communities of color,” creating retention opportunities for our employees of color. 

Eden Prairie Schools is committed to supporting retention strategies for teachers of color and American Indian in their beginning years of employment and ongoing throughout their employment in Eden Prairie Schools. To support these efforts, Eden Prairie Schools developed an additional mentoring opportunity for staff of color called Equity Sponsorship. Equity Sponsorship is a mentoring opportunity available specifically for veteran and new (within 3 years at Eden Prairie Schools) staff of color. The 2020-2021 school year was the first year that Equity Sponsorship was offered in Eden Prairie Schools, and it was funded through the PELSB grant funds. This grant, in addition to other grant programs, is aimed at attracting and retaining teachers of color in our system.

Create a racially-reflective staff community

The Rising Educators program is an intentional extension of our collective work, including A2: Affinity and Allies, and Equity Sponsorship. The goals of the Rising Educators program include the development and retention of BIPOC staff that contribute to the achievement of our mission. Participants in the Rising Educators program will complete their Bachelor’s Degree with Metropolitan State University, our partnership institution, and obtain a teaching license. 


A huge thank you to the primary grant writers Aaron Monson and Tova Werlinger, Instructional Excellence Coordinators with additional data and previous writing cycles from Ashley Bakke, Elena Cáceres, Heather Mac Murray, Brenda Nielsen, and Angela Taylor. Eden Prairie Schools is lucky to have you!