Rhode Island School for Progressive Education Receives State Funding to Recruit Teachers of Color

RISPE State Funding Press Release.pdf

Providence to offer teachers $3,200 for multi-lingual certification

PROVIDENCE -- The state education commissioner together with the Providence schools and several of the state’s higher education institutions Thursday announced a financial incentive to encourage more teachers to earn their English-as-a-second-language certification.

The goal is to train 125 teachers over the next couple of years to meet the needs of a rapidly growing multi-lingual student population in Providence, where approximately one-third of the students are English language learners.

The initiative, announced by Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green Thursday, will give regular education teachers up to $3,200 to become qualified as multi-lingual teachers. Infante-Green, in a press conference at the district’s headquarters, was surrounded by Mayor Jorge Elorza, Providence Teachers’ Union President Maribeth Calabro and representatives of Rhode Island College, the Rhode Island School for Progressive Education and other universities.

Infante-Green said the cost of tuition is one of the biggest barriers preventing teachers from becoming certified in English as a second language.

“We’re making a commitment together,” she said. “We’re working with higher education to lower tuition. The Providence Teachers Union is willing to work with us. We’re all rowing in the same direction.”

Providence hopes to tap federal funds plus private philanthropy to cover the estimated $400,000 cost.

Several recent studies, including a scathing report by the U.S. Department of Justice, found rampant deficiencies in the way the Providence school system educates its English-language learners. The Justice Department said the district sets students up to struggle and, too often, fail. It identified a dozen violations of the Equal Education Opportunities Act, including failure to staff classes with qualified teachers.

Of the city’s 2,000 teachers, 400 have some form of ESL certification.

Last summer’s review by Johns Hopkins University found similar concerns, noting that English-language learners in fifth and eighth grade posted single-digit rates of proficiency on a standardized test in England.

By Linda Borg

Jan 30, 2020

Providence Schools to Improve Supports for Multilingual Learners

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and the Providence Public School District (PPSD) were joined by their partners in postsecondary education today to announce an effort to significantly increase the number of teachers trained to serve multilingual students. Providence teachers will be eligible for reimbursement up to $3,200 in educational expenses for enrolling in an English as a Second Language (ESL) certification or master’s degree program in the 2020-2021 school year.

This initiative, which will serve up to 125 participants, will aid in the district’s efforts to comply with a recent agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The agreement is clear that Providence must increase its number of ESL-certified teachers.

Currently, one third of the students enrolled in Providence Public Schools require ESL supports, up from one quarter of the student body in 2015 and one fifth in 2012. To meet this growing demand, the district has only 433 ESL-certified teachers. If all the available spaces in this cohort are filled, that would represent an increase of nearly 30 percent.

Leaders from Rhode Island College, the Rhode Island School for Progressive Education, Roger Williams University, and the University of Rhode Island have all committed to ensure enough seat capacity for the Providence teachers enrolling in ESL certification programs. All four institutions offer ESL certification programs, and RIC and URI also offer master’s degree programs in ESL. Programs vary in cost and duration, and teachers could choose a program that best meets their individual needs.

“RISPE is thrilled to be part of this commitment to Providence's students and teachers,” said Christine Alves, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the RI School for Progressive Education. “Investing in our multilingual learners is not only a necessary next step, it is the right thing to do. Everyone who has the ability to increase access to an equitable, high-quality public education for our state's children is called to do just that at this pivotal moment. We are proud to be part of an initiative that is not simply a response to demographic change, but is also guided by the conscience of the community.”

Above excerpt from this press release.

Rhode Island School for Progressive Education Funded to Support Diverse Teachers in PreK-12 Classrooms

Funding and management assistance from NewSchools Venture Fund will fuel efforts to recruit, support and cultivate more classroom teachers of color

Providence, RI, October 24, 2019 – The Rhode Island School for Progressive Education (RISPE) is proud to announce its selection as a member of the Diverse Teachers cohort at NewSchools Venture Fund, generously supported by the Walton Family Foundation.

RISPE is one of 14 organizations in the cohort. Each cohort member is committed to enhancing the recruitment, development and retention of underrepresented teachers, (including Black, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander and Native American/Alaskan Native teachers). In addition to financial support, NewSchools will provide management assistance and create a community of practice for the cohort members.

“My team and I could not be more grateful for this generous support and the vote of confidence from NewSchools Venture Fund to keep doing the work we’re doing to recruit more educators of color for Rhode Island’s urban schools,” said Christine Alves, RISPE’s Co-Founder and Executive Director. “Rhode Island needs RISPE’s first cohort of diverse educators to be successful. We intend to leverage this momentous show of support in our mission to fully fund the cost of recruiting, training, and supporting a dynamic, diverse cohort of anti-racist educators trained specifically to work in Rhode Island urban core districts.”

“I am proud of NewSchools’ commitment to this work,” said Frances Messano, a senior managing partner at NewSchools Venture Fund who leads the Diverse Leaders strategy. “Today’s students are the most racially diverse in the history of this country and it’s time to have teachers who match that diversity. We, with support from the Walton Family Foundation, are eager to support this new cohort focused on diversifying the teaching force. This cohort is an impressive group that will make a difference,” she added.

About the Rhode Island School for Progressive Education

The Rhode Island School for Progressive Education (RISPE) is Rhode Island’s first residency-style graduate school of education. RISPE was developed over four years with generous support from the Rhode Island Foundation and the United Way of Rhode Island, and received unanimous approval from the Rhode Island Council on Postsecondary Education in March 2019. RISPE is aiming for a June 2020 launch. RISPE’s goal is to improve outcomes for all students in Rhode Island’s urban public schools by diversifying the teacher pipeline, employing an anti-racist curriculum, and placing RISPE residents with highly effective mentor teachers for an immersive yearlong residency. RISPE will use best practices that have been piloted and proven in public schools across the region to train and prepare highly effective teachers of color for Rhode Island’s urban public schools. Learn more at

About NewSchools

NewSchools Venture Fund is a national nonprofit that supports and invests in promising teams of educators and innovators who want to reimagine learning. We help them accomplish their missions to achieve outstanding results for the schools, students and educators they serve. We are committed to helping students graduate high school prepared and inspired to achieve their most ambitious dreams and plans. Through our investing, management assistance, network building, and thought leadership, NewSchools helps to reimagine PreK-12 education.