School of Education awarded $13.4 million grant creating student-to-teacher pipeline


Although Chico State’s enrollment is at a historical low, the opportunity to grow as a professional in the School of Education is not. The U.S. Department of Education awarded Chico State Enterprises with a $4,457,974 three-year grant on Sept. 22, 2022 for its NorCal Growing Responsive, Equitable, Adaptable and Transformative Teachers Pipeline program. 

The grant will bring $13.4 million to the School of Education to support students aspiring to obtain their teaching credentials. This is one allocation from the Biden-Harris Administration, which directed $200 million toward the Supporting Effective Educator Development grant program in hopes of increasing the number of education professionals in the U.S. 

The Chico State grant will support 720 students, from high schoolers to graduate students on their academic journey to become teachers, said Sean Murphy, Chico State’s media relation coordinator. 

State and federal grants require written proposals which are typically 25 to 50 pages long, usually taking about a month or two of research and writing by the authors. The grant proposed last year was spearheaded by graduate program coordinator Ben Siepel, educational technology and distance learning program coordinator Tal Slemrod and multiple subject program coordinator Claudia Bertolone-Smith.

The application period opened toward the end of the 2022 spring semester, so Siepel and fellow colleagues worked on writing the grant during their summer break. 

Their main goal is to create a pipeline of teachers who teach in the areas where they live. Funding is available for three basic priorities, which aligns with the government’s policy. 

First priority are people who are in or interested in a career of education and students in the university’s masters program who are already teachers seeking to further their education.

Siepel said the second priority is to fund local teachers to develop a pipeline of teachers who represent and live in the areas along with the students they teach, so the university is giving priority to students from Glenn County, Butte County and Tehama County.

The third priority is to help underserved communities like people of color, active military personnel or veterans, people who are homeless and people with disabilities. 

Anyone can apply for the grant, Siepel said, but the university is prioritizing funding for those three priorities over the next few years.

Bertolone-Smith said the credential program is difficult and demanding, and many students often work 20-30 hour weeks on top of their schooling and time in the classroom.

“We want to support our students, we want to support our students at Chico State and in the region, potential future students who would be coming to Chico State and support teachers,” Slemrod said. “We were all teachers before we got our Ph.Ds and became professors, and we want to support teachers.” 

Most students pursuing a teaching career take a fifth year at university due to a busy work and life schedule, Siepel said, so the School of Education is trying to address several problems and barriers at once.

The U.S. currently has a nationwide teacher shortage due to declining school funding and an increase in income taxes that burden people with lower-middle class salaries, so many teaching professionals are choosing alternate professions which are more profitable. California experienced a teacher shortage in all subjects during 2021-2022, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Education. 

“75% of districts reported having a shortage of qualified teachers for the 2017-2018 school year, 90% reported that they were as bad or worse than in the previous years,” according to a study done on California’s 211 school districts by Stanford University in 2018.

“We want to fund and pay for the education of those who are becoming teachers or interested in becoming teachers,” Slemrod said. “It’s our chance to remove a barrier, the financial barrier for our students.”

Grant applicants must submit a Credential Program Application to apply for funding, which is a three step process: 

  1. Understand admission requirements
  2. Apply to the Office of Graduate Studies to pay fees and submit transcripts 
  3. Submit an online credential application.

Spring applicants have seven options to choose from while fall applicants have three credential program options.  The three year-round programs are single subject, multiple subject credentials such as Hmong, Punjabi and Spanish, and education specialist credentials which work with students with disabilities. The four fall-only programs are concurrent education specialist and multiple subject credentials, concurrent education specialist and single subject credential, bilingual authorization in single subject and bilingual authorization in multiple subject.

A single subject teacher is someone who works at the middle to high school level or someone who aspires to be a professor, while multiple subject teachers are people who teach in elementary schools.

For more information, visit the School of Education’s website or schedule an appointment with an adviser to see what credential programs align with your career goals.

Melvin Bui can be reached at [email protected] or @MelvinBuii on Twitter.

*CORRECTION: The third to last paragraph had interchanged application seasons. Fall applicants have seven options to choose from while spring applicants have three credential programs options. The multiple subject credential description is also misleading since the three languages are also available to single subject credentials.