Wayne State University College of Education and Michigan Education Association receive $675,000 grant to support Project MITTEN

photo of Roland Sintos Coloma
Roland Sintos Coloma

The Wayne State University College of Education and Michigan Education Association received a $675,000 grant from the National Education Association to support Project MITTEN (Michigan Initiative to Transform Educational and Equity Networks). A collaboration between the college, Michigan Education Association and three school districts — Grosse Pointe Public School System, Saline Area Schools and Southfield Public Schools— the three-year initiative seeks to advance racial justice in education by using two strategies to enhance the cultural competency of PK-12 educators and recruit more students from underrepresented groups into teaching. 

photo of Anita Bates
Anita Bates

First, new models of cultural competency training will be designed specifically for educators in school districts with varying geographical and demographic profiles to address their unique and shared needs and challenges. Select teachers will undergo the next stage of “train the trainers” workshops to build greater capacity in providing cultural competency sessions to fellow educators and help their school districts formulate or revise diversity plans. The goal is to provide cultural competency sessions for at least 300 PK-12 teachers. Curriculum planning for the sessions began this summer with teacher representatives from the three partner school districts. Sessions will be offered to participating school districts over the next three years. 

photo of Jeffrey Lisiecki
Jeffrey Lisiecki

Second, a summer residential program will prepare at least 120 high school students of color for the transition to college and into the teaching profession. Select participants will be invited to serve as counselors in subsequent summer programs. During the school year, students will be paired with teacher mentors, who will engage in ongoing discussions about academic, career and life planning. The first summer residential program will be held in 2022. 

“Project MITTEN is important and timely because it focuses on issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion in education,” said Roland Sintos Coloma, Ph.D., professor of teacher education and principal investigator. “It seeks to address the racial gaps in the uneven composition of teachers and students in PK-12 schools, the opportunity gaps that put students of color at risk due to inequitable conditions and outcomes, the hostile school climates that marginalize and push out educators and students of color, and the need for more teacher leaders and allies to serve as racial justice advocates. We are excited about what we have the potential to accomplish through this project.” 

photo Annette Christiansen
Annette Christiansen

Other investigators for this project include Anita Bates, Ph.D., a lecturer in teacher education, and Jeffrey Lisiecki, an academic services officer. Annette Christiansen, a Uniserv consultant professional issues organizer at the Michigan Education Association and an alumna of the Wayne State College of Education, is the main partner and collaborator. Curtis Lewis, a renowned expert on race, diversity and cultural competency and the chief of teaching and learning at University Prep Schools, is a consultant for the project. 

Project MITTEN is generously supported by the National Education Association’s Great Public Schools Fund. The Michigan Education Association is the lead organization for this grant, and the Wayne State University College of Education received a subaward of the grant. 


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