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Ford Foundation's Program Seeks To Expand Minority-Teacher Pool

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A $14.5-million grant program set up by the Ford Foundation is seeking to expand the pool of minority teachers by forging links between large colleges and universities and postsecondary schools with predominantly minority enrollments.

The six-year program, begun last fall, has so far provided start-up grants totaling $3.4 million to consortia of colleges and universities in four states. The grants went to consortia based at the following institutions: Tuskegee University in Alabama, $894,000 over two years; the Cleveland Foundation in Ohio, $547,300 over two years; Spelman College in Georgia, $500,00 over two years; and Florida State University, $200,000 over one year.

"Historically black institutions attract minority students better than historically white institutions," said Jack Gant, a former education-school dean who is administering the project for Florida State University. His state is the recipient of the most recent grant awarded through the program.

"Historically white institutions, on the other hand," Mr. Gant added, "are larger and therefore have more varied resources that can be brought to bear on the problem, which is increasing the pool of minority teachers for everyone."

"What we want to do is change the system itself, not just go out and recruit students and give them some tutoring and some money," he said.

Mr. Gant said the program activities started in his state have included the development of a mentor program for beginning minority teachers in four school districts. The pool of mentors includes retired teachers and principals, university professors, and education-school deans.

The consortia has also polled returning students to find out what their needs are, provided tutoring, put a tracking system in place for minority students, and provided assistance to minority high-school students preparing for the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

The other schools taking part in the program in Florida include: Florida A & M University, Edward Waters College, and Bethune-Cookman College, all historically black institutions; the University of North Florda; and the University of Central Florida.--dv

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