New Grant Program Invests in Great Ideas for High-Quality Teacher Retention and Recruitment

As part of our North Star – ensuring every kid graduates from high school college and career-ready – Opportunity 180 invests in great schools and educators providing educational experiences that give students a foundation for their success. 

A major challenge that schools face today is an ongoing teacher shortage, and moreover, a shortage of teachers a TNTP study calls “Irreplaceables.” According to the study, “Teachers of this caliber provide more engaging learning experiences for students and help them achieve five to six more months of learning each year than students of low-performing teachers – academic results that can be life-changing.” 

Therefore, to further the pipeline of quality teachers in Clark County and build the conditions that support and strengthen them, we are thrilled to announce four grants totaling nearly $500,000 to be used specifically to recruit and retain high-quality teachers, with an emphasis on ensuring more teachers represent the backgrounds of their students and cultivating more “Irreplaceables” right here in Southern Nevada. The grants begin this summer. 

“This is the first time Opportunity 180 has awarded these types of grants, and we are so proud to do so with four of our partner schools: Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus, Futuro Academy, Nevada Rise Academy, and TEACH Las Vegas,” said Jana Wilcox Lavin, CEO of Opportunity 180. “These grants will be specifically directed towards initiatives that give educators and school leaders the resources they need to teach effectively, stay in Nevada schools, and help our kids graduate from high school college and career-ready.”

These four schools are located in economically disadvantaged areas of the Las Vegas Valley where the majority are students of color, underscoring the importance of ensuring teachers represent their student populations. A recent discussion at Brookings Institution’s Brown Center for Education Policy noted that diversity can be a “critical element of a quality education,” and, “one of the ways to close long-standing race-based achievement gaps is to expose more students to teachers who look like them.” Working to intentionally address representation and voice will impact academic outcomes for these students, making it an important focus for teacher retention and recruitment efforts in these historically marginalized communities. 

To cultivate these high-performing learning and working environments, the grantees will incorporate new, as well as tried and tested, ways to recruit, develop, and retain high-quality teachers at their campuses, including:

  • Creating and incubating an induction and mentoring program to promote growth and development of teachers early in their teaching careers. 
  • Connecting instructional design opportunities through peer mentoring, classroom observations and feedback, coaching on formative assessments, and case/lesson studies on instructional design
  • Providing additional pathways for teachers to be cultivated into administrative and leadership roles
  • Engaging staff in various professional development opportunities, including coaching, curricula development, and a mini-residency program
  • Providing performance-based retention incentives to teachers
  • Working with organizations to set aside time for dedicated time on a regular basis for educators to help formalize development tools and programs geared towards collaboration

Creating conditions for great teachers to stay in classrooms and cultivate engaging learning experiences and environments is a critical piece to improving student outcomes, as well as ensuring that teachers represent their student populations. These grants will pilot retention strategies that keep our “Irreplaceables” in the classroom, demonstrating firsthand that great teachers and great ideas make way for great schools and better student outcomes.

Congratulations to Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus, Futuro Academy, Nevada Rise Academy, and TEACH Las Vegas on this exciting funding opportunity. Stay tuned for more updates on these programs as we share learnings, progress, and outcomes!