For Immediate Release
Tuesday, February 8, 2022

ISBE announces $2.1 million "Grow Your Own" teachers grant

Education Career Pathway program recruits local students to teaching, especially in rural and low-income areas

​SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today announced a $2.1 million grant for school districts to “Grow Your Own" teachers. The grant marks the third round of funding for the Education Career Pathway program, which recruits local students to the teaching profession. Applicants will receive priority points for implementing the program in rural or low-income schools.

Sixty percent of teachers work in a school within 20 miles of the high school from which they graduated. Research supports focusing on developing local talent as a key strategy to building a strong teacher pipeline.

“Mentorship and career exploration opportunities play a huge role in what career students decide to pursue," said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “The influential encouragement of my own mentors helped me get to where I am. The Education Career Pathway grant has successfully helped more than 1,000 high school students start down the path to becoming teachers. This program especially helps rural and low-income schools strengthen their local teacher pipeline. We still have work to do to meet the high demand for teachers across the state, and we look forward to continuing to engage stakeholders and lawmakers in uplifting this incredible profession."

The Education Career Pathway provides current high school students with the opportunity to participate in coursework designed to prepare them for success in a college-level teacher preparation program. Students participate in work-based learning to hone their craft and gain experience in different educational settings and content areas. Students also receive dual credit, mentorship, and opportunities to earn credentials, such as paraprofessional licensure, and microcredentials to demonstrate the teaching competencies they develop through the program.

Governor JB Pritzker's fiscal year 2020 budget included the first increase in state funding for Career and Technical Education in five years, making the first round of Education Career Pathway grants possible. Governor Pritzker's FY 2021 and 2022 budgets maintained this higher level of funding. This third round of funding for the Education Career Pathway brings the total state investment in the initiative to $5.6 million. The previous two rounds of funding have supported more than 1,000 high school students in their quest to become teachers.

The number of licensed educators employed in Illinois has grown year-over-year since 2018. Illinois has added more than 5,000 teachers to the profession. The state's historic investments in Evidence-Based Funding have provided school districts with the resources they have needed to create more teaching positions and raise teacher pay. ISBE has also focused intently on eliminating barriers to licensure, such as the basic skills test; expanding pathways to licensure for career changers and industry professionals; and recruiting and retaining teacher candidates of color.

Grantees will receive funding for four years to design, implement, and sustain the program. The Request for Proposals is available in the electronic Grants Management System. Proposals are due electronically by 4 p.m. March 14.

ISBE will host a technical assistance session at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 8. A recording of the webinar will be posted on the CTE grants webpage. Interested applicants can ask additional questions by emailing Kristina Valentine at