Group of TES participants pose for a photo around a cake
University Photography

$875,000 Three-Year Grant Allows for the Expansion of Temple Education Scholars.

In classrooms across America, students are experiencing a critical disconnect, and now a crippling shortage of teachers is being compounded by a new challenge: striking disparities between educators of color and students of color. Remedying this "leaky pipeline" of educators is a multifaceted problem, one that requires leaders in education to do more than address today's urgent need. It requires new measures that will ensure the long-term success of our schools and classrooms, and right now it's taking shape at Temple.

Established in 2018, Temple Education Scholars (TES) is a yearlong dual enrollment program designed for college-bound high school seniors interested in exploring teaching as a career. A career in education will play a vital role in meeting this increasingly apparent need, says TES Program Director Juliet Curci, PhD, assistant dean of college access and persistence in the Temple University College of Education and Human Development (CEHD).

"The program does two essential things. It supports young people to, and through, postsecondary education, and it supports their interest in pursuing careers in education and teaching," she says.

During a full academic year, scholars attend high school in the morning before traveling to Temple Main Campus to take college courses in the afternoon. TES is designed to provide an introduction to five college-level courses—an opportunity to accrue 15 credits before matriculating as an undergraduate. Despite its home in CEHD, Temple Education Scholars is more broadly a college preparation program. It provides students the tools to get a jumpstart on the college experience, attending classes side by side with first-year students and challenging scholars to begin honing skills early like time management, networking and even financial planning.

"What really stood out to me most was the support system," says Sydney Smith '23, a graduating senior in early childhood development and a member of the first TES cohort. "When I got to my freshman year and my peers were having issues adjusting to the pace of college life, I had better insight because I had already had those experiences."

Still, the program remains rooted in a deep commitment to encourage and support more young people of color to explore the role they can play in the future of education. According to Research for Action's 2022 report, The Need for More Teachers of Color, in Pennsylvania nearly 37% of public school students identified as students of color, yet a mere 6% of teachers identified as persons of color. Programs like TES have potential to create classrooms more reflective of the populations they serve, says Jennifer Johnson, PhD, assistant professor within CEHD and a TES faculty member.

"We know that we are still struggling to encourage students to enter education as professionals. Programs like TES have an opportunity to affirm young people's interest in teaching in ways that may counter some of the mixed messages they're hearing—especially those who are high-achieving students of color," Johnson says. 

"Ideally, students come out of this program and they choose to continue this path at Temple," she adds. "But it's not just about the content knowledge. This is an opportunity for students to see what it means to be a disruptor in an educational space and an advocate for educational reform. We want to empower students to go back to their communities and be that representation they didn't see."

Now, a new $875,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation is opening even more doors for TES, providing resources that will enable the program to extend its impact even further. Support from this three-year grant will expand the current cohort from 15 scholars to 20 and supplement a new, full-time TES staff member, providing the dedicated support needed to grow a program of this scale and engage more future educators at such a crucial time.

"It's always the right time to support young people exploring their interests and helping them finish high school ready for both college and career," says Ebony English, program officer at the William Penn Foundation. "Just as important, the foundation supports TES because it provides a demonstrated solution that can be modeled both locally and nationally to address the shortages we're seeing in education: engaging more students of color to learn about a career in education."

"The William Penn Foundation has been a long-standing and deeply supportive partner for Temple University," said Mary E. Burke, Temple's Vice President of Institutional Advancement.

"Our missions align in offering access and opportunity for Philadelphia's youth and unlocking their true potential. This grant further advances those pathways to higher education and teaching careers that will affect not just the lives of the award recipients, but on generations of Philadelphia schoolchildren. We thank the William Penn Foundation for its unwavering commitment to shaping the future of our city together with Temple University."

There's no denying the challenges facing education are pressing, says Program Director Curci, and continued donor support will enable TES to evolve beyond its physical size, integrating key elements like an apprenticeship program, opportunities for practical learning and even scholarship support for students who choose to continue their studies at Temple.

Regardless of the program's growth, what is clear is the integral role these scholars will play in changing the landscape of education and empowering the next generation of learners.

"Our students are helping to facilitate a shift in schools and classrooms, one that reflects, and is responsive to, the needs of diverse learners," she says.

"It's not just about representation; it's about the experience that students are having with their teachers and creating a culture of belonging for all students."

To support the next generation of educators through the Temple Education Scholars program, visit to make your gift today. To take advantage of college matching funds that can double the impact of your gift, please contact the College of Education and Human Development Major Gift Officer, Derek Coffman, at or 215-204-5477.