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UW Receives $4.5 Million Daniels Fund Grant for Education Initiative

December 22, 2015
woman and two men examining large boulder up close
Alan Buss, right, UW associate professor of elementary and early childhood education, works with students Kaitlyn Berg and Russ Oliver on a hands-on mathematics project. An initiative to lift UW’s College of Education to national pre-eminence in preparing K-12 teachers, counselors and administrators has received a major boost with a five-year, $4.5 million grant from the Daniels Fund. (UW Photo)

The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees’ initiative to elevate UW’s College of Education to national pre-eminence in preparing K-12 teachers, counselors and administrators has received a major boost with a five-year, $4.5 million grant from the Daniels Fund.

UW’s Board of Trustees on Friday approved receipt of the grant from the major nonprofit organization founded by cable TV pioneer Bill Daniels. Among the Daniels Fund’s objectives is improving the quality of the K-12 education system to ensure increased student achievement.

The grant is central to the UW Trustees College of Education Initiative, established by the board last year to “elevate the UW College of Education to national pre-eminent status in professional educator preparation, ultimately to improve and enhance K-12 education in Wyoming.” The $4.5 million grant follows a $500,000 planning grant received from the Daniels Fund earlier this year.

“We appreciate the opportunity that will be provided with this support from the Daniels Fund to pursue the board’s ambitious plan to lift the College of Education to new levels of excellence,” says Board of Trustees President Dave Palmerlee. “This partnership sets the stage for what we expect will be an exciting and fruitful five-year effort that will pay dividends for the state for many years to follow, as measured by improved educator preparation that ultimately will increase student learning in Wyoming.”

During 2016-17, the grant will fund a strategic planning phase that includes hiring an executive director to work in tandem with the dean of the College of Education to lead the Education Initiative; appointment of an Education Initiative Board; and hiring expert research consultants to help teams composed of faculty, K-12 personnel and other stakeholders to evaluate eight of UW’s existing educator preparation programs by studying promising programs across the country. Additionally, town hall regional meetings will be held across the state to assess and solicit input about effective teaching practices, and the components of effective professional educator preparation curricula that will best serve Wyoming’s K-12 educational system.

The goal of the Education Initiative’s first phase is to produce a strategic plan to transform UW’s entire suite of educator preparation programs. The plan developed and approved by the Education Initiative Board and the UW trustees would be implemented by the College of Education in the second phase, during 2018-2020.

“This will be an unprecedented effort on the part of the college and its many stakeholders,” College of Education Dean Ray Reutzel says. “We are excited to get started on what most certainly will be an amazing and productive journey.”

Funding for the third, fourth and fifth years of the Daniels Fund grant will be contingent upon UW obtaining $2 million in matching funds for each of those years. The university will work with the UW Foundation, which played a key role in securing the $4.5 million grant, to pursue additional private funding for the Education Initiative.

An event in Cheyenne to celebrate the grant award and outline the Education Initiative’s objectives in more detail is expected early in 2016.

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