TDOE Announces $2 Million for Round Two of Grow Your Own Grants

Friday, April 09, 2021 | 12:51pm


Grants to Boost Pipeline of Homegrown Teachers in Tennessee


Nashville, TN — Today, the Tennessee Department of Education announced $2 million for round two of competitive Grow Your Own grants to help remove barriers and increase access to the education field for prospective teachers in Tennessee. 

The application deadline is May 7 for Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) who wish to participate. Application requirements and additional information are available here

The Grow Your Own initiative supports partnerships between 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 to serve the state’s diverse student population. 

“The department's Grow Your Own program helps to develop strong local partnerships that ensure Tennessee’s future teachers have streamlined, no-cost pathways to becoming a professional educator in the classroom, and that children across the state— regardless of where they live, what grade they’re in or what subject area they’re studying— have highly-qualified teachers that represent them and their communities,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “This program puts the needs of our students first, and we’re thrilled to offer a second round of grants.” 

The Grow Your Own initiative provides no-cost access to a pathway to teaching in order to meet the need for increased diversity as well as to address the state’s teacher shortage. Like the first round, the second round will provide 20 EPPs $100,000 each in funding for the program. 

From the first round of grants, the department was able to establish additional Grow Your Own partnerships with seven EPPs and 37 districts, creating innovative examples of how to utilize these partnerships in local communities. 

“The Grow Your Own program has been incredibly successful in our community,” said Rep. Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville). “I appreciate the Department of Education’s partnership in helping us implement our programs, and I am excited that other communities will now benefit from the resources provided. They will not only support more Tennessee teachers but also solidify the academic foundations of our students.”  

Lincoln Memorial University’s various partnerships allow education assistants with a bachelor’s degree to receive a Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree while receiving initial Tennessee licensure in visual arts, physical education, elementary education, or secondary education, as well as a teaching endorsement in Special Education. 

“Hawkins County Schools has benefited tremendously from this unique opportunity. The Grow Your Own initiative has allowed us to demonstrate an investment in our own staff, allowing them to pursue higher degrees and direct teaching positions, especially in special education, to open doors in the teaching field that would have not been available otherwise,” said Director Matt Hixson, Hawkins County Schools. “We have already seen the impacts this has had through the additional learning opportunities and the advancement of career opportunities within our school system.” 

Austin Peay State University’s and Lipscomb University’s partnership with Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools maximizes the number of education assistants and high school seniors who enroll in their Grow Your Own programs. 

“We are grateful for the department’s continued investment in the Grow Your Own initiative to boost the teacher pipeline in Tennessee through educator preparation programs,” said Dr. Prentice Chandler, Dean of the Eriksson College of Education, Austin Peay State University. “APSU is proud to have been an initial partner in this work to help provide additional opportunities and pathways for local teacher candidates to join the teaching profession in our state.” 

The application process for the second round of Grow Your Own grants is open to both in-state and out-of-state EPPs who partner with a Tennessee school district. Among the requirements for being awarded funding, preference will be given to EPPs and school districts not awarded funding in round one. 

Funding for the Grow Your Own competitive grant is available through federal COVID-19 stimulus funding. For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact