By Carrie Caton Pillsbury
Sustainability widely refers to the endurance of products or processes. But for one nonprofit, the term applies to the profession of teaching. Fund for Teachers awards grants for pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade educators to keep them inspired, innovative and in the classroom. How educators choose to spend the national nonprofit's investment – well, that’s up to them.
Since 2001, 6,000+ teachers leveraged $22 million in Fund for Teachers grants into self-designed summer fellowships. The eduventures range from seminars across town to research spanning continents, whatever the teachers deem as relevant to their sustainability and students’ success.
Teachers are not eligible for the $5,000 individual or $10,000 team grants until their third year in the classroom for a reason: An estimated one-third of all new teachers leave after three years, and 46 percent are gone within five. Furthermore, the most frequently cited reasons new teachers leave are lack of professional development and not feeling valued. Fund for Teachers grants bridge this volatile gap, giving the respect and financial means to pursue knowledge outside classroom to motivate teachers to stay in the classroom.
Ironically, the theme of traditional sustainability as a fellowship focus continues to rise. For example:
Biodiversity in the Amazon rainforests, gold mining in West Africa and microbial pathogens in India’s water supply characterize additional sustainability research teachers pursue on behalf of their students with these grants.
As the teachers become students themselves, the educational system becomes more viable. And sustainable teachers – fueled by meaningful experiences, projects and service – are the role models we want in front of every classroom, every day.
Teachers interested in designing their own professional development for summer 2015 have until January 29 to submit their application. For more information about Fund for Teachers, visit the nonprofit’s Facebook and blog.
Carrie Caton Pillsbury is Manager of Marketing & Communications at Fund for Teachers.