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CEHHS Receives over $2.8 Million in Grant Funding to Support Educational Priorities

The College of Education, Health and Human Sciences (CEHHS) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, recently received over $2.8 million in grant funding to support areas of educational priority in Tennessee.

Programs supported by these grants include Grow Your Own initiatives, which will provide the financial support needed for individuals currently serving as Educational Assistants or Teachers’ Aides to become a licensed teacher.

Additionally, these grants will also support the professional development and learning of existing Tennessee teachers, through two innovative programs that will allow existing teachers to earn additional endorsements (in either Special Education – Interventionist, Special Education – Comprehensive, or Secondary Mathematics (6-10 or 6-12).

If you are a Teacher’s Aide/Educational Assistant interested in becoming a licensed teacher, or if you are a licensed teacher interested in adding an additional endorsement to your license, please read this article and register your interest through the links at the bottom of this page.

Of these grants, almost $600,000 will support educator preparation and licensure through the Grow Your Own Initiative. The vision of the initiative is for Tennessee to be the top state in which to become and remain a teacher and leader by increasing access to and success in the teaching profession.

The Grow Your Own (GYO) initiative creates partnerships with counties across the state to assist in the goal of creating innovative pathways toward teacher licensure to address teacher shortages. The awarded Aspiring Teachers grants focus on increasing diversity of the Tennessee educator workforce through intentional and co-constructed recruitment, preparation, and support of teachers of color.  As part of this initiative, UT expanded the program to include Shelby, Monroe, and Blount county school districts, in addition to Knox county, with which a partnership was already established.

Two additional grants funded in the area of educator support are the UT-PLAYS (Personal Learning at Your Own Speed) grants.  Funded for $1.98 Million, the first grant focuses on expanding and providing flexible, no-cost professional learning for the 3,600 current Tennessee educators to complete additional endorsement programs at their own pace. The grant provides these educators with the knowledge and skills to improve their professional practice to support students with diverse needs and in a variety of educational settings.  Through adapted coursework from the currently approved licensure speciality area programs in Special Education, students are provided with a fully-online asynchronous learning model to eliminate financial and logistical barriers and are provided equitable access to professional development for educators across all geographical areas of Tennessee. The second UT-Plays grant will focus on Mathematics.  This grant focuses on the overlap of mathematical learning loss and unavailability of highly qualified math teachers in Tennessee by providing an accessible program for current teachers which will allow the addition of a Mathematics endorsement to the current Tennessee Educator’s license.

The balance of these grants focus on enhancing classroom academics, and support of the Best for All initiative –a five year program to address the academic and non-academic needs of classroom students in our state.  Best for All focuses on three main areas: elevating the teaching profession, academic performance, and the mental and the child as a whole.

According to the 2021 Educator Preparation Report Card, UT graduates rank highly in educator preparation report card and continue to be rated among the top Tennessee institutions for preparing educators in Tennessee.

Read the official University of Tennessee press release here.

If you are a current teacher or an educational assistant interested in participating in one of these programs, please fill out one of the following forms to register your interest. Please know, at this point, enrollment in these programs must include support from your school district as well as approval from the Department of Education.


Grow Your Own Programs (for educational assistants who wish to become a licensed teacher).

Requirements include: Bachelor’s degree, current position working as an Educational Assistant in Blount, Knox, Monroe, or Shelby counties, and a strong desire to become a licensed teacher. If you qualify and are interested, complete and submit the form below. Please know that the selection process is likely to be highly competitive and that likely not all who are interested will receive funding.

Grow Your Own Program Interest Form


Additional Endorsement Programs (for existing teachers who wish to add Special Education or Mathematics endorsements to current TN teaching license).

Requirements include: Current TN teaching license in good standing, recommendation from school district and approval from the TN Department of Education. If you are interested in this program, please complete and submit the form below.

Additional Endorsements Program Interest Form