By Mackenzie Miller ’21
Goshen College has received a $17,000 community investment grant from the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, further funding the Teach Elkhart County program.
Since its launch in 2019, the Teach Elkhart County program at Goshen College has partnered with the Community Foundation of Elkhart County along with Concord Community Schools, Elkhart Community Schools, Goshen Community Schools and Bethany Christian Schools to train student teachers from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in Elkhart County partner districts for careers in area schools.
“As the only four-year teacher training institution in Elkhart County, Goshen College is uniquely positioned to collaborate with the Community Foundation and K-12 schools to ‘home grow’ future educators,” said Elisa Zwier, Teach Elkhart County Director and assistant professor of education. “Our program will provide a local pipeline of teachers of color who are underrepresented in our area schools as compared to the population of students of color.”
This $17,000 grant is the second Goshen College has received from The Community Foundation of Elkhart County, which continues to make possible the Teach Elkhart County program. The foundation previously granted Goshen College $57,000 for the 2019-2021 school years, with the goal to recruit and retain diverse teachers for Elkhart County Schools.
“This initial grant proposed a robust mentorship program for first-year teachers and incentives to encourage retention,” Zwier said. “However, during our program design and pilot year, we realized mentorship at the undergraduate level and targeted recruitment were equally important.”
With this additional funding, the Teach Elkhart County program will continue to support future underrepresented teachers coming from high school or the workforce, into teacher training, and then a career in area schools.
Research shows that students excel academically and socially when they have a teacher who shares their racial or ethnic background. Yet in Elkhart County, only 50% of underrepresented students will ever have a teacher “match” in K-12th grades.
Goshen College hopes to graduate five to seven Teach Elkhart County educators annually, beginning in Fall 2024, according to Zwier.
The Teach Elkhart County program provides students who are underrepresented in teacher education, benefits for earning a bachelor’s degree in education, which include incentives for committing to teach in the county following their college graduation. These include faculty mentoring, peer cohort support and priority job placement.
Zwier notes this program is needed now more than ever, amid recent global and national events.
“Recent events have underscored the critical role that teachers play in K-12 students’ lives and learning,” she said. “Teach Elkhart County and its K-12 school partners are deeply grateful to the Community Foundation for its investment in this K-12 and higher education collaboration that will benefit underrepresented students and teachers, increasing racial equity in our county’s schools.”
About the Community Foundation of Elkhart County
The Community Foundation strives to support nonprofits and various endeavors that improve the health of the community, businesses, and people – impacting success. The Community Foundation of Elkhart County is dedicated to transforming Elkhart County by advising donors of all types and their professional advisors on charitable giving, awarding grants to effective nonprofit organizations and providing leadership to address critical needs with a focus on youth development, vibrant community and quality of life.