We firmly believe that investing in human capital — well-prepared teachers who represent the students in their community — is one of the best ways to decrease the opportunity and achievement gaps that exist today.
Aspiring teachers from communities of color that are significantly underrepresented in the educator workforce will have access to additional financial support thanks to a recent gift to the University of Washington College of Education.
An endowed fellowship created by the Satya and Rao Remala Foundation will focus on supporting future educators with a desire to teach STEM-related subjects and a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Born and educated in India, Rao Remala worked on many of Microsoft’s best-known products, including Windows 1.0, Windows 2.0 and Office 95. Rao and Satya Remala’s daughter, Srilakshmi Remala, currently manages the family foundation’s education portfolio and has an extensive career within education systems change work including STEM, personalized learning, college success and social emotional learning.
“We firmly believe that investing in human capital — well-prepared teachers who represent the students in their community — is one of the best ways to decrease the opportunity and achievement gaps that exist today,” said Srilakshmi Remala. “We hope this will inspire others to come forward and support future teachers who reflect the diversity of our schools.”
All students benefit from a diverse educator workforce — and for students of color the benefits can literally be life-altering. Exposure to even one teacher of the same race can significantly improve the odds a student of color will be placed in a gifted education program, graduate from high school and attend college. Yet in Washington state, where nearly half of K-12 students are people of color, only 11 percent of teachers are people of color.
One of the biggest barriers to efforts in Washington state and nationally to diversify the educator workforce is the debt load aspiring teachers take on to enter the profession, a burden that falls most heavily on aspiring teachers of color.
The Satya and Rao Remala Foundation Endowed Fellowship for Equitable Teaching, created with a $105,000 gift, will support one UW teacher candidate annually, starting immediately.
“There are many people who want to give back to their communities, but they’re not able to access graduate-level preparation without financial support,” said Rao Remala. “We want individuals who feel the call to teach to have that opportunity to pursue their dreams.”
Mia Tuan, dean of the UW College of Education, said the fellowship will strengthen the College’s ongoing efforts to bolster the recruitment and retention of teachers of color in Washington state and beyond.
“We are grateful to the Remala family for their generous gift,” Tuan said. “Expanding the pipeline of skilled educators into socioeconomically diverse schools is a priority for the College because we know teachers make a huge impact on their students and the opportunities they have to achieve their potential.”
Dustin Wunderlich, Director of Marketing and Communications