TDOE Awards $2 Million in Grow Your Own Grants to Tennessee Educator Prep Programs

Monday, October 05, 2020 | 03:14pm


Awards Fund ‘Grow Your Own’ Programs with 35 Districts to Strengthen Teacher Pipeline in Tennessee

Nashville, TN— The Tennessee Department of Education today announced seven Educator Preparation Programs will be awarded Grow Your Own Competitive Grants to form or expand state-recognized Grow Your Own Partnerships to increase access and remove barriers to the teaching profession. 

The Grow Your Own Competitive Grant funds partnerships between Educator Preparation Providers (EPPs) and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to provide innovative, no-cost pathways to the teaching profession by increasing EPP enrollment and growing the supply of qualified teachers. 

"We are thrilled with the response from our educator preparation programs,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “Thanks to their innovative plans, the Grow Your Own initiative will expand across the state and support hundreds of individuals to become teachers for free—while employed in our Tennessee school districts. Right now, it could not be more important to remove barriers to the teaching profession and I am proud of the way our state is coming together to continue preparing great teachers in innovative ways.” 

The department’s Grow Your Own initiative seeks to increase access to and success in the teaching profession as part of the Best for All strategic plan, which sets a vision for Tennessee to be the top state to become and remain a teacher and leader.  

The following seven EPPs will be awarded Grow Your Own Competitive Grants of $100,000 each, totaling $2 million dollars: 

  • Austin Peay State University: four grants  
  • Lincoln Memorial University: three grants 
  • Lipscomb University: two grants 
  • Tennessee State University: four grants 
  • Tennessee Tech University: five grants 
  • University of Tennessee Chattanooga: one grant 
  • University of Tennessee Knoxville: one grant 

These competitive grant awards build upon ongoing Grow Your Own partnerships at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Austin Peay State University, and Lipscomb University. 

“We are so excited to be a Grow Your Own partner and are grateful to the department for selecting Tennessee Tech for this work,” said Lisa Zagumny, Dean, College of Education at Tennessee Tech University. “We know this investment will have such an impact across Middle Tennessee and help build a strong pipeline of great teachers right in our own communities.” 

“UTC is thrilled to be selected as one of the Grow Your Own awardees and thankful to the Tennessee Department of Education for the award,” said Renee Murley, Director, School of Education at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. “Our partnerships with Hamilton and Marion Counties, through this initiative, allows us to further strengthen our collaborative efforts to increase diversity and prepare highly effective teachers.” 

EPPs applied for the competitive grant by submitting plans for partnerships with at least one district, although many applications involved more than one. EPPs could also submit more than one application. Based on these awards, there will be Grow Your Own partnerships with the following 35 districts, enabling 262 individuals to become a teacher for free and get paid to do so:  

  • Alcoa City Schools 
  • Anderson County Schools 
  • Bedford County Department of Education 
  • Blount County Schools 
  • Cheatham County 
  • Clarksville-Montgomery County 
  • Dickson County 
  • Fayetteville City Schools 
  • Grundy County Schools 
  • Hamilton County Schools 
  • Hawkins County Schools 
  • Haywood County Schools 
  • Hickman County 
  • Jackson County Schools 
  • Knox County Schools 
  • Lenoir City Schools 
  • Loudon County Schools 
  • Marion County Schools 
  • Maryville City Schools 
  • Metro Nashville Public Schools 
  • Moore County Schools 
  • Oak Ridge City Schools 
  • Overton County Schools 
  • Putnam County Schools 
  • Robertson County 
  • Sevier County Schools 
  • Shelby County Schools 
  • Tipton County Schools 
  • Tullahoma City Schools 
  • Union County Public Schools 
  • Warren County Schools 
  • Wayne County Board of Education 
  • White County Schools 
  • Williamson County Schools 
  • Wilson County Schools 


"We are thankful for the State in providing these funds,” said Danny Weeks, Director of Schools for Dickson County. "We are proud to partner with Austin Peay State University and Nashville State Community College to serve our community."

“Jackson County Schools is excited to be working with Tennessee Tech as part of the Grow Your Own initiative,” said Kristy Brown, Director of Schools. “This is an incredible opportunity for our district and state to develop great teachers and fulfill critical needs in our classrooms.” 

This $2 million grant opportunity removes barriers to the teaching profession by providing funds to entirely cover tuition, textbooks, and fees for all selected participants. In addition, GYO partnerships will increase the number of qualified teachers with high-demand licensures by providing participants with a no-cost education resulting in dual licensure OR initial licensure with additional endorsement to include grade or subject certification and special education or English Language Learners (ELL) certification. To view the competitive grant and learn more about requirements for both EPPs and LEAs, click here

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact