November/December 2021 Issue
October 25, 2021

Local unions win grants to grow their own future teachers

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United
Caption: Yonkers FT piloted a TALAT Club with about 35 students from six high schools just before the pandemic hit. Above, students work in groups to identify the skills teachers need to be successful. Photo provided.

More than a dozen P-12 local unions, one community college and five United University Professions chapters at SUNY have been awarded grants to increase and diversify the teacher talent pipeline by recruiting students from local communities.

The union-led effort is supported by a $675,000 three-year grant from the National Education Association, one of NYSUT’s national affiliates.

The “Grow Your Own” grants are an outgrowth of NYSUT’s Take a Look at Teaching initiative, which began four years ago to address the teacher shortage and improve diversity in the educator workforce. The need for teachers is great, as New York is facing declining enrollments in teacher education programs, increased retirements and severe shortages in difficult-to-staff subject areas and districts.

“Grow Your Own programs are a highly effective way to develop aspiring educators who are strongly connected to the school and community,” said NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango. “Whether it’s tutoring a younger student, shadowing a teacher or visiting a college campus, there are all sorts of ways to encourage students to think about a career in teaching. Sometimes they just need a tap on the shoulder or a little nudge.”

DiBrango noted GYO programs can help address the need for more diversity in the teaching force by recruiting and supporting students of color, especially males of color. GYO programs can also be crucial in rural communities, which are facing serious recruitment and retention challenges.

The first round of $5,000 grant winners have ambitious plans.

They are:

  • Brentwood Teacher Center/Brentwood Teachers Association: Create a TALAT Club, and partner with Suffolk County Community College, community organizations and businesses.
  • Faculty Association of Suffolk County CC: Raise awareness and increase enrollment in SCCC’s Early Childhood and Adolescent Education programs; assign advisers to help prospective education majors with the application process, financial aid and needed prerequisites; continue mentoring throughout SCCC attendance.
  • Fulton TA: Develop a TALAT Club, inviting educators with diverse backgrounds as guest speakers; create a new teacher study group to support and retain new teachers; partner with Cayuga CC and SUNY Oswego to offer college and career activities.
  • Greece TA: Create a TALAT Club to dovetail with the district’s early childhood education/teacher cadet pathway; expand partnerships with Monroe CC and SUNY Brockport.
  • North Syracuse Education Association: Develop a Teacher Exploration Program and Club; establish partnerships with SUNY Cortland and Syracuse University; provide tutoring, mentoring and job shadowing.
  • Pittsford District TA: Implement a TALAT Club at both high schools; create a TALAT Partnership Coordinator position within the union leadership.
  • TA of Sag Harbor: Encourage juniors and seniors to join TALAT Club; provide opportunities to assist elementary and middle school classes.
  • Syracuse TA: Create a TALAT Club at the junior high level; expand existing Future Educators Club at the high school level; work with SUNY Oswego students to mentor Syracuse high school students interested in education careers.
  • Troy TA: Create a TALAT Future Educators Club, providing mentoring and shadowing experiences; encourage students to pursue the Questar Teaching Assistant program through the University at Albany.
  • United Federation of Teachers: Collaborate with the City University of New York to develop materials for the UFT membership to use in teacher recruitment visits and events; work with black fraternities and sororities to recruit diverse teaching candidates.
  • Utica TA: Create TALAT clubs at two middle schools, with mentoring by district teachers; partner with Utica College, Herkimer CC and Mohawk Valley CC for tours and volunteer opportunities.
  • West Irondequoit TA: Create a TALAT Club at the junior high level and expand the high school Future Educators Club; provide transportation for after-school homework help and tutoring for elementary students; host field trips to area colleges.
  • Yonkers Federation of Teachers: Develop a TALAT introductory program for pre-K to eighth grade; expand after-school and summer instructional experiences for high schoolers in a current TALAT Club.

UUP-funded projects include grants for Buffalo State Art Education/Buffalo Public Schools; Empire State College; Binghamton University/Youth Apprenticeship Program; and SUNY Plattsburgh/North Country Future Educators Club. Grants will pay for recruitment events and visits.

For more information and to apply for the second round of NYSUT’s GYO grants, go to You will also find a number of resources for use in the classroom, with a TALAT club or as part of community events.

diversity in schools