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Historic Gift Allows HGSE to Expand Scholarship Aid for Teachers

With its largest gift to date, HGSE will deepen its commitment to the teaching profession and provide significant tuition funding to ease the debt burden for aspiring and experienced teachers
HTF alumnus Jerry Nelluvelil teaching
Harvard Teacher Fellows alumnus Jerry Nelluvelil teaches a class at Chelsea High School in 2018.
Photo: Jill Anderson

The Harvard Graduate School of Education today announced a major investment in the teaching profession, with a $40 million gift that will support endowed scholarships for students in the school’s new Teaching and Teacher Leadership (TTL) master’s program.

The gift — the single largest in HGSE's history — will dramatically enhance the school's ability to prepare educators to meet the challenges facing students and schools as they emerge from pandemic-related disruptions that have exacerbated existing inequities. It will ensure the support of 40 master’s candidates each year, in perpetuity, enabling the training and ongoing mentorship of educators who can enter the teaching profession without the burden of significant debt. This gift, made anonymously by two Harvard Business School alumni, is part of a broad range of HGSE initiatives meant to address issues of student affordability and to strengthen connections between Harvard and schools and communities, particularly those with highest needs.  

“This is a game-changing gift that underscores not only the central importance of teachers in our communities, but also Harvard’s longstanding commitment to the teaching profession and to the field of education writ large,” said HGSE Dean Bridget Long. “We’re currently seeing our education system strain under the weight of an unprecedented two-year global pandemic — a pandemic that laid bare many persistent inequities that have long blocked opportunity for too many students. This gift allows HGSE to build on our history of innovative programs that seek to prepare our graduates to lead the kind of transformative learning experiences that expand opportunity, support student achievement, and change lives and communities. It enables us not only to prepare the equity-focused, effective teachers all students need and deserve but also to develop and share knowledge about how to train and support high-quality teaching in the complex world of the 21st century.”

The Challenge for Teachers 
As part of this historic gift to HGSE, the donors have provided $10 million to fund a matching drive — encouraging other donors across Harvard and beyond to join them in supporting financial aid to master’s candidates in the Teaching and Teacher Leadership Program. The donors will match, dollar-for-dollar up to the $10 million cap, donations from other donors to establish scholarships to support TTL students. HGSE has two years (until December 31, 2023) to fulfill the match. To learn more and get involved, please contact Tara Karyanis.

The Teaching and Teacher Leadership Program, which will welcome its first cohort of students this fall, will create pathways to success in the classroom and in school leadership roles that will empower graduates to thrive as effective practitioners, collaborators, and mentors in their communities. Seeking to emphasize, analyze, and elevate the critical role that teachers play in the broader education ecosystem, the TTL Program emerged from HGSE’s seven-year effort to reimagine and redesign all of its master’s programs with a focus on foundational knowledge and evidence-based practice. The program also builds on the legacies of HGSE’s Teacher Education master’s program and the Harvard Teacher Fellows Program.

Heather Hill
Heather Hill

The TTL Program will welcome a mix of students who are both learning to teach and who are already advancing in their teaching roles as instructional leaders in school settings. Leveraging that blend of experience levels and perspectives is one of the program’s key advantages, along with HGSE’s groundbreaking core curriculum for education professionals, a focus on discipline- and content-specific instructional practices, tailored fieldwork in innovative schools, and ongoing coaching and mentorship to nurture the incubation of successful practices. TTL students will also have the opportunity to participate in research studies on the effectiveness of various approaches to teacher education and build skills as reflective practitioners seeking to continuously improve their preparation and teaching — a benefit afforded by embedding a teacher education program within a premier research university.

“One of my goals in this program is to build an evidence base that can inform teacher education practices across the field,” says Heather Hill, the Hazen-Nicoli Professor of Teacher Learning and Leadership, a co-chair of the TTL Program, and a research leader who studies policies and programs that improve teacher effectiveness. “Teacher educators rarely have the time and resources to identify the impact of different approaches to novice teacher learning. This gift creates that time and those resources. We’ll be creating a laboratory for teacher education research — generating new evidence about the best ways to effectively prepare and support teachers to address the many challenges that our K–12 students are facing today.”

Another distinction of the TTL Program is the emphasis on developing ongoing teacher communities that provide continued support, learning, and collaboration. “Where I think our graduates will be distinctively prepared as educators and leaders in our K–12 schools is our deep emphasis on cohort-based preparation for teachers,” said Victor Pereira, faculty co-chair of the TTL Program and a longtime teacher, instructional coach, and mentor. “The relationships among the aspiring teachers and leaders in our program, and the relationships they have with instructors and mentors, is a dynamic that creates a strong network of supported, confident learning. Our program will nurture the whole person, leading to the kind of preparation that fosters a highly skilled and well-structured pathway to the classroom.”

The newly announced gift consists of $30 million in endowed scholarship funding, with another $10 million as a matching drive to inspire other donors to support financial aid for teachers at HGSE. This effort builds on the donors’ impactful record of support for Harvard’s leadership in the field of education, including notable collaborations with Harvard President Lawrence Bacow, former President Drew Faust, and three HGSE deans — Kathleen McCartney, James Ryan, and now Bridget Long — along with former HBS Dean Nitin Nohria. 

Victor Pereira
Victor Pereira

The donors’ giving has been motivated by their deep belief in the central importance of teachers in our society — and the critical role that effective teachers can play in creating opportunity, lifting achievement, and fueling successful outcomes for students. The donors have supported an evolution in educator preparation at HGSE, from its first-in-class Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) Program; to the creation of an innovative teaching pathway for Harvard College students via the Harvard Teacher Fellows Program; to the endowment of a professorship focused on effective teacher practice. The TTL Program will draw from and carry forward the innovations of that rich legacy. It will also retain from the HTF Program a deep commitment to creating a well-supported pipeline for Harvard College students to enter the teaching profession.

The gift is one result of an ongoing schoolwide commitment to make HGSE more affordable and accessible for all students. The intention is to increase support for all HGSE students, who will enter a range of positions across the education ecosystem—from teachers and school or district leaders to policymakers, entrepreneurs, learning designers, and nonprofit leaders, all working toward the goal of improving education.

Read more:

HGSE’s Investment in Teaching

Interviews with faculty leaders, profiles of HGSE students and alumni who are teachers, and more about how HGSE invests in the teaching profession.


The latest research, perspectives, and highlights from the Harvard Graduate School of Education

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