by Photo courtesy of Unsplash

The San Diego Foundation today awarded $150,000 to Teach For America San Diego in a pilot initiative to recruit and place 30 teachers of color throughout several school districts in San Diego County.

The initiative, set to hire the teachers in three to five school districts is intended to “boost the academic performance, sense of belonging and college aspirations for students of color,'' a foundation statement read.

Studies have found that a representation gap in who teaches and leads children can perpetuate systemic barriers to access and opportunity that disproportionately impact students of color. According to research by Johns Hopkins University, Black students who had just one Black teacher by third grade were 13% more likely to enroll in college — and those who'd had two were 32% more likely.

"Children thrive when they see teachers that share the same race, experiences and cultural values as them,'' said Michelle Jaramillo, director of education initiatives at San Diego Foundation. "We need long-term funding to recruit teachers of color who represent our youth and provide guidance throughout students' educational journeys.''

According to the foundation, San Diego County serves a half-million students across 42 districts, almost 70% of whom identify as a person of color, while only 25% of teachers do. Nearly half of the 506,000 students in San Diego County identify as Latinx, but fewer than 20% of the educators do.

Teach For America San Diego intends to recruit teachers who are from San Diego or are looking to move to the region.

Funding will also support hiring a director of alumni recruitment who will lead the national recruitment of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) teachers to San Diego among other duties, and design an educator fellowship for teacher-leaders, as well as support the educators through a two- year transitional period.

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