DESE Allocates Over $50 million for Teacher Recruitment and Retention Grants

May 11, 2021

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is excited to announce a $50 million investment in growing Missouri’s teacher workforce. Because teachers are the biggest school-based factor in student success and the single most influential component of an effective school, this significant investment, available to DESE through federal COVID-19 relief funds, provides an immediate way for local school leaders to improve the learning opportunities provided to students across the state.


“Our administration continues to focus on workforce development, and training the next generation of workers starts with our teachers in Missouri’s classrooms,” said Governor Mike Parson. “It is critical that we address challenges in K-12 education now and help our future leaders successfully enter the workforce, which is exactly why we are investing state relief dollars to recruit and retain the best and brightest educators in Missouri.”


This $50 million investment has two specific goals: attracting individuals to pursue a career in education, and then keeping high quality teachers in the profession.


“On the heels of Teacher Appreciation Week, there is no better way to show our teachers that we care than with this commitment to supporting recruitment and retention efforts in every part of our state,” said Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. “By allocating money to every district and charter school and offering a wide range of recommended best practices to affect change in recruitment and retention, we are allowing local school leaders to determine the most appropriate course of action to meet their local needs.”


To address recruitment efforts across the state, DESE will make $10,000 grants available to all local education agencies (LEAs) to establish or expand local Grow Your Own (GYO) programs. Currently, 20 percent of LEAs have some type of GYO program; with this funding, DESE hopes all 554 LEAs will operate a robust local GYO effort. Recruiting just three to four high school students in all districts and schools to the education profession could result in about 2,000 new teacher candidates.


DESE will make additional grants available to all LEAs to implement strategies to improve teacher retention, with an emphasis on providing funds to those LEAs with harder to fill positions, such as LEAs serving higher numbers of students of color and students in poverty. Strategies that may impact retention include things like providing stipends for mentors of new teachers or for other non-contractual duties, supporting teachers who are pursuing National Board Certification, addressing issues identified in staff culture and climate surveys, expanding professional learning and networking opportunities for educators, or increasing teacher voice and teacher leadership opportunities.


More information about these grants as well as additional teacher workforce data can be found on DESE’s Recruitment and Retention webpage.