Embedded Funding Ensures a Sustainable Model for Teacher Quality

When considering a partnership opportunity to support the launch of an emerging teacher residency, the National Center for Teacher Residencies (NCTR) looks to a number of factors to determine alignment between our own mission and values and those of our would-be partner. Of course, measures like district leadership support, collaboration with an innovative, data-driven higher-ed institution and a commitment to meeting district-demonstrated needs like increasing diversity in the local teacher workforce are among the most important prerequisites for a strong partnership. Equally important, however, is a long-term plan for sustaining and scaling the program’s impact, a vision that is often supported by a forward-looking seed funder that backs the budding program’s launch. Thus, when NCTR was approached to provide strategic guidance and resources to launch the Kansas City Teacher Residency (KCTR), we were excited that the partnering grant-maker was the Kauffman Foundation – an organization that is committed to using local resources, encouraging community buy-in and employing the systematic use of data to achieve its education goals.

Community-embedded funders understand the needs of local school districts and share a commitment to the targeted approach to talent recruitment that is a core tenet of the residency model. In “Embedded Funders and Community Change: Profiles,” researchers from University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall found that embedded funders see themselves “not just as grant-makers, but as conveners, facilitators, brokers, data repositories, organizers and innovators to move community-change work forward.” This is what NCTR sees in the Kauffman Foundation. 

Like NCTR, the Kauffman Foundation is passionate about improving educator preparation through peer-to-peer mentorship. And also like NCTR, the Foundation believes that for a Kansas City-based teacher residency to be successful, it will need to create a self-sustaining financial model. Thus, KCTR was born with initial grant funds from the Kauffman Foundation and was made responsible for furthering its goal of ‘helping students achieve strong academic gains by retaining exceptional teachers’ through its non-profit 501(c)3 designation.


Charles King, director of Kansas City Teacher Residency, at the KCTR kickoff party.

Understanding the need to attract, prepare, support and retain local talent and provide opportunities for veteran educators to advance their careers through mentorship opportunities, the Kauffman Foundation worked with NCTR to launch the Kansas City program. Later, under the leadership of an accomplished veteran educator, Charles King, KCTR developed an exciting partnership with Park University, which also places high value on engaging with the Kansas City education community to meet local districts’ educator-preparation needs. As KCTR’s higher-ed partner, Park University will collaborate with KCTR program staff to use both rigorous clinical preparation and intensive mentoring to prepare KCTR’s first cohort of residents through a two-year Master of Education program.

We are excited to continue our work alongside the Kauffman Foundation to grow and sustain KCTR - and to support the program in achieving its impact goals, which include increasing teacher diversity and retention, improving student achievement and creating a vibrant professional development network among local district, charter and university stakeholders. Through KCTR, the Kauffman Foundation and NCTR are working together to ensure Kansas City’s future generation of teachers is classroom-ready on day one and outcomes-focused throughout their careers.

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christine brennan davis

As New Site Development Director with National Center for Teacher Residencies, Christine takes a lead role in supporting and consulting new and emerging residency programs.  Before joining NCTR, Christine served as an English Language Arts Instructional Coach in Chicago Public Schools.