HISD provides $1 million in Grow Your Own Grant awards to Texas universities

Houston Independent School District announced three university educator preparation programs will be awarded Grow Your Own grants through HISD’s competitive grant program to create pathways for aspiring educators to become teachers for free and get paid to do so.

HISD’s Grow Your Own grant program funds partnerships with educator preparation programs from Texas public institutions of higher education to prepare future teachers. Participants will be able to earn their bachelor’s degree and Texas teaching license while being paid as a full-time teaching assistant in HISD.

“We are excited about what this means for HISD’s future teachers, and ultimately, for our students,” said Elizabel Garcia, Director of Grow Your Own and Strategic Staffing at HISD. “Thanks to our partners, we will be able to eliminate financial barriers and expand opportunities for our teaching assistants and others in the community to become teachers.”

After a process that included 24 university applications and scoring of applications among a review committee, HISD is proud to announce the following grant awardees:

  • Texas Woman’s University: 5 grants
  • Prairie View A&M University: 3 grants
  • Tarleton State University: 2 grants

These partnerships will provide significant cost savings to both HISD and aspiring teachers and teaching assistants.

“This grant award from HISD, paired with TWU’s efforts to make college more accessible through our Zero Tuition Guarantee, will allow us to cover ALL tuition and associated costs for a bachelor’s degree and teacher certification for nearly 100 Houston ISD paraprofessionals in high-need teaching areas like early childhood education, elementary education, special education and bilingual education,” said Dr. Lisa Huffman, TWU’s College and Professional Education Dean. “These paraprofessionals can stay in their communities, for their communities, and build better communities.”

On average, HISD’s cost per participant is $7,190, which represents well over a 50% tuition discount in the state of Texas. Participants who hold an associate degree (or equivalent 60 credits) will be able to earn their bachelor’s and Texas teaching license at no cost while being paid as full-time teaching assistants/apprentices in HISD.

“The Whitlowe R. Green College of Education is proud to be a partner with HISD in this critically important mission to establish and maintain a sustainable pipeline of future educators for the district,” said Anthony Harris, Interim Dean of Education. “We stand ready to assist the district in carrying out its mission, which aligns perfectly with the PVAMU motto: We produce productive people.”

Applications prioritized high-need subject areas such as special education and bilingual education. In total, the program will prepare and place 133 aspiring educators for positions in HISD by the 2025-2026 school year in the following certification areas:

  • 48 candidates EC-6 with SPED supplemental
  • 30 candidates EC-6 ESL
  • 20 candidates 4-8 ELA and Reading with SPED
  • 15 candidates EC-6 Bilingual
  • 10 candidates EC-12 SPED with core subjects
  • 10 candidates EC PK-3 with SPED supplemental

The Grow Your Own Competitive Grant offers grants to Education Preparation Providers (EPPs) that can offer high-quality, low-cost pathways to aspiring educators. EPPs meet strict TEA standards as high-quality institutions that recruit and prepare qualified educators to meet the needs of all students in Texas classrooms. A list of approved EPPs can be found here.

Additionally, the grant program prioritizes a high-quality yearlong residency experience and time spent in the classroom and recruits directly from local communities. Awardees agree to work with the district in establishing their Grow your Own as a registered apprenticeship program with the U.S. Department of Labor.

This initiative is supported by a strong partnership with the National Center for Grow Your Own and Houston Endowment.

“Houston Independent School District is focused on ensuring every child has not only the teacher they need, but deserve, by investing in opportunities for school-based employees to become teachers,” said David Donaldson, founder of the National Center for Grow Your Own. “These grant awards are an efficient use of taxpayer dollars that will lead to an incredible return on investment of over 130 new and debt-free teachers.”

To learn more about the Nation al Center for Grow Your Own, click here.