The Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation has announced a ten-year, $50 million gift from philanthropist and businessman Charles Butt in support of scholarships for high school students willing to commit to a career in teaching.
To be administered as part of the Austin-based foundation's Raising Texas Teachers initiative, the Charles Butt Scholarship for Aspiring Teachers will provide financial assistance to at least five hundred teaching fellows annually from more than ten university teacher preparation programs. Each teaching fellow will receive $8,000 per year through the program, as well as training and development opportunities, mentorship from sitting public school educators, and involvement in a statewide network for aspiring teachers facilitated by Raise Your Hand. Eventually, the program will be expanded to include leadership development opportunities for top high school students in the state interested in a career in education.
Universities participating in the initiative were selected through a competitive RFP process based on their capacity to deliver competency-based clinical preparation and willingness to establish strong collaborative relationships with districts where graduates of the program will teach. They include the University of Texas Austin, Trinity University (San Antonio), Our Lady of the Lake University (San Antonio), Rice University (Houston), the University of Houston, Southern Methodist University (Dallas), the University of North Texas at Dallas, Texas A&M University — Special Education Program (College Station), Texas Tech University (Lubbock), and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley — Student Teacher Educator Preparation: University Partnership (Edinburg). A second cohort of emerging teacher preparation programs will receive technical assistance designed to improve their programs and will be eligible for scholarship funding in future years.
Charles Butt is the chairman and CEO of San Antonio-based Texas grocery store chain H-E-B. Earlier this year, he pledged more than $100 million to establish the Holdsworth Center in Austin, a leadership institute devoted to supporting and developing public school leaders.
"Too often, teachers are asked to learn on the job with too little formal training in the practice of teaching," said Raise Your Hand Texas executive director Alison Badgett. "We wouldn't ask a pilot to learn on the job, nor a doctor without close supervision from an expert practitioner. The profession of teaching, and the education of our children, is no less important. With Raising Texas Teachers, our goal is to support universities that are rigorously preparing students to address the needs of twenty-first century students, and to help them to recruit the best and brightest to the profession."