May 24, 2023

Strengthening the teaching workforce

In 1977, the El Paso Community Foundation was created as a permanent endowment for El Paso and the surrounding borderland region. Since then, the Community Foundation has given back millions of dollars to organizations in the El Paso area supporting projects in health, human services, arts, environment and education. 

El Paso Community Foundation

To deliver on its commitment to supporting El Paso’s education system, in 2019 the Community Foundation and the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) came together to evaluate opportunities for improvement. 

The two organizations identified the need for systemic change to address the quality of education within the El Paso region. Through collaborative conversations, they recognized that students in UTEP’s College of Education were not well prepared for teaching in the classroom setting upon graduating from the program. Their training was inadequate to prepare them for a career in education. 

The solution? The area’s first ever paid teacher residency program. 

The UTEP Miner Teacher Residency Program, now in its third year, offers teacher candidates the opportunity to complete a year-long paid student teaching experience as part of their degree plan. The goal of the program is to allow these students to gain valuable, quality teaching experience while earning a living wage. It provides students with classroom experience and prepares them for their first year of teaching.

The program places student teachers in an elementary or middle school classroom alongside an experienced mentor teacher four full days a week. They attend staff development meetings and workshops and participate in planning and teaching with their mentor teacher. 

“Access to education is fundamental, and to fundamentally change our environment for the better we need to provide educators access to their own improvement,” said Eric Pearson, president and CEO of El Paso Community Foundation. “The difference between a quality school and a struggling school is the quality of the teacher and the ability of the teacher to take the challenges in front of them. And that’s what we’re trying to prepare those teachers to do.”

Two main tenants contribute to the success of the teacher pipeline program. The first is being able to look at the classroom experience for student teachers and how that experience impacts teacher retention. New teachers who do not receive mentoring or adequate preparation are twice as likely to leave the classroom after their first year.

El Paso teacher residency program

Students in the UTEP Miner Teacher Residency Program pose in front of the UTEP Education Building.

The other is the stipend. With 18.6% of El Paso’s population living in poverty, the university is seeing many students who are in poverty situations and often must take time away from their education to help support their families. 

“Being able to provide an opportunity to take some burden off of these students and allow them to focus on their education and training is very unique,” said Pearson. “If we’re able to send the message that we value not just education but educators themselves, I think that’s a huge win for the future of the teaching profession.”

The ultimate goal of the program is to create fundamental change in the education system, which will in turn encourage more individuals to pursue a career in education. 

Support from Texas Mutual

Philanthropy is the major driver of this program. The Community Foundation and UTEP rely heavily on donors to allow them to pay these student teachers while they go through the program.

In 2022, Texas Mutual awarded more than $3 million in grant funding to support organizations focused on generational learning. It was through this grant effort that Texas Mutual was connected with the El Paso Community Foundation.

Due in part to Texas Mutual’s contribution, future teachers are receiving high quality and meaningful training to provide a high quality of education for the next generation.

Texas Mutual is appreciative of the commitment the El Paso Community Foundation shows toward building a stronger, safer Texas

Explore programs from the El Paso Community Foundation and learn more about 2023 community funding for nonprofits

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