TDOE Awards $4.5 Million Grow Your Own Grants To Create Pathways To Become A Teacher For Free

  • Wednesday, June 23, 2021
The Tennessee Department of Education announced $4.5 million in Grow Your Own grants has been awarded to establish partnerships between Educator Preparation Providers and local school districts and create innovative pathways to becoming a teacher in Tennessee for free. 
This second round of Grow Your Own grants awards 45 grants of $100,000 each to 13 EPPs in Tennessee to form or expand state recognized Grow Your Own partnerships with more than 50 school districts across the state.
Building upon the momentum of the initial $2 million investment in the initiative, this latest round of grants from the department significantly expands the Grow Your Own program, totaling a $6.5 million investment in 65 partnerships between 14 EPPs and 63 school districts-- enabling over 650 future educators to become a Tennessee teacher for free.
"The department is thrilled to see Grow Your Own partnerships flourishing across the state to further boost the state’s teacher talent pipeline to provide all our students with a high-quality education,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “This investment provides individuals with the opportunity to become a teacher for free and will continue to make Tennessee the best state to become and be a teacher. We are excited to continue to see the success of this program impact the state for years to come.”
The Grow Your Own competitive grants are designed to foster partnerships between EPPs and districts to provide innovative, no-cost pathways to the teaching profession by increasing EPP enrollment and growing the supply of qualified teachers. These grant funds will remove barriers to the teaching profession by providing funds to entirely cover tuition, textbooks, and fees for all selected participants, while providing dual licensure or initial licensure opportunities with an additional endorsement.

2021Grow Your Own Partnership Competitive Grant Awardees

EPPGrant Awardees


AustinPeayState University

Cheatham County Schools
Clarksville-Montgomery County SchoolSystem
Dickson CountySchools
Hickman CountySchools
Robertson CountySchool

Freed-Hardeman University

Fayette County Public Schools

Lincoln Memorial University

Alcoa CitySchools
Anderson County Schools
Blount County Schools
Campbell County Schools
Clinton City Schools
Hamblen County Schools
Hancock County Schools
Hawkins County Schools
Jefferson County Schools
Lenoir City Schools
Knox County Schools
Monroe County Schools
Oak Ridge Schools

Lipscomb University

Clarksville-Montgomery County SchoolSystem
Hamilton County Schools
Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
Williamson County Schools

Milligan University

Elizabethton City Schools

Middle Tennessee State University

Murfreesboro City Schools

Nashville Teacher Residency

Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools

Relay Graduate School of Education

Tennessee Public Charter School Commission
Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
Shelby County Schools

Tennessee Technological University

Clay County Schools
Dekalb County Schools
Hawkins County Schools
Morgan County Schools
Oneida Special School District
Roane County Schools
Union County Schools

Tennessee State University

Bedford County Schools
Cheatham County Schools
Clay County Schools
Decatur CountySchools
Fayetteville City Schools
FrayserCommunity Schools
Germantown Municipal Schools
Greeneville City Schools
Marshall County Schools
Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
Moore County Schools
Purpose Prep Academy
Rutherford County Schools
Shelby County Schools
Sumner County Schools
Williamson County Schools

Wilson County Schools

Tusculum University

Greene County Schools
Hawkins County Schools

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Blount County Schools
Knox County Schools
Monroe County Schools
Shelby County Schools

University of Tennessee at Martin

Benton County Schools
Dyer County Schools
Dyersburg City Schools
Haywood County Schools
Lauderdale County Schools
McKenzie Special District
Obion County Schools
Paris Special School District
Weakley County Schools


District leaders, education preparation program leaders, and education chairmen for the Tennessee General Assembly commented on the importance of this program and grant funding to further support the teaching profession across the state.
“The Grow Your Own Program provides needed support to build a successful educator workforce focusing on our existing talent pool of future teachers,” said Senate Education Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey. “These grants will help prepare incredible teachers, strong schools and connected communities. It is a win-win for Tennessee.”
“Grow Your Own builds deliberate pathways from the community to the classroom and from within our classified staff,” said Dr. Bryan Johnson, director of schools, Hamilton County Schools. “It also creates more access to teaching for candidates with varied experiences and diverse candidates whose perspectives can help our children thrive.”
“Milligan University is pleased to partner with Elizabethton City Schools on the Grow Your Own grant opportunity,” said Dr. Angela Hilton-Prillhart, associate dean, School of Social Sciences and Education, Milligan University. “It is rewarding to be part of an initiative that will offer scholarships to individuals who are already working with children who want to become teachers.”
“The Grow Your Own program has been incredibly successful by providing additional learning opportunities and advancing career pathways for local candidates to join the teaching profession,” said House Education Instruction Subcommittee Chairman Scott Cepicky. “We are excited to see this program expanding to other Tennessee communities and know they will benefit from these additional resources.”
“We are looking forward to working with Tennessee State University as part of the Grow Your Own Partnership Grant sponsored by the TDOE,” said Dr. John Combs, director of schools, Tipton County Schools. “This opportunity will allow us to address areas of need in our district by increasing the availability of certified teachers in special education and ESL, while utilizing our outstanding educational assistants whose goal it is to become teachers for Tipton County Schools.”
“Thanks to the continued investment by the Tennessee Department of Education in these essential partnerships, APSU has the opportunity to strategically invest and strengthen our teacher pipeline,” said Dr. Prentice Chandler, dean of the Eriksson College of Education, Austin Peay State University. “This work matters, and we appreciate the state’s commitment to ensuring all our students will have access to high-quality teachers.”
The department’s Grow Your Own initiative seeks to increase access to and success in the teaching profession as part of the Best for All strategic plan, which sets a vision for Tennessee to be the top state to become and remain a teacher and leader.
Funding for the Grow Your Own competitive grant is available through federal COVID-19 stimulus funding. 
To read more about our existing Grow Your Own partnerships in Tennessee and to see a full list of Grow Your Own grant awardees, click here.
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