Lourdes University is thrilled to announce the approval of a $50,000 grant for its Like Me program. The grant, generously provided by the Sisters of St. Francis (Sylvania) Foundation Donor Advised Fund of the Greater Toledo Community Foundation, marks the third consecutive year of support for this vital initiative.

The Like Me program, established by Lourdes University in the summer of 2021, aims to attract, prepare, and mentor students of color, creating a pathway for them to obtain employment in partner schools. The program directly addresses the significant disparity between students of color and teachers of color in the education workforce.

Vince Laverick, Ed.D., Chair of the Division of Education at Lourdes University, expressed gratitude, stating, “The generous donation from The Greater Toledo Community Foundation and the Sisters of St. Francis will allow the Like Me program to continue its mission to attract, prepare, and mentor students of color. Currently, 11 Lourdes education students of color are positively impacted by the donation, and we are working to support the recruitment of 10 more students of color for the fall of 2024.”

Angelica Johnson, M.A., Program Coordinator for the Like Me Program, emphasized the broader impact of the grant, saying, “This grant not only supports students of color at Lourdes but impacts our partner districts, including Toledo Public Schools, Washington Local School District, Springfield Local School District, Sylvania City School District, Perrysburg Exempted School District, Fostoria City School District, Tiffin University, and Owens Community College.”

The Sisters of St. Francis Foundation Fund, dedicated to creating communities where all members have equal opportunities to thrive, envisions supporting organizations and programs addressing human trafficking, immigrant and refugee support, and broader social justice initiatives. Lourdes University and the Division of Education align with this vision, committing to recruit, retain, and support teachers of color to diversify the educator workforce.

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Education reported that less than 20% of the K-12 teaching workforce are teachers of color, compared to a 50% representation among students. Ohio faces a similar challenge, with just 5% of the K-12 teaching workforce representing a student population that is 30% students of color.

The Like Me program, with its mission to diversify the educator workforce, encompasses various components, including College Credit Plus and Dual Enrollment opportunities, Lourdes University Scholarships, Loan Forgiveness for Lourdes Education majors, and Mentorships.

Lourdes University remains committed to bridging the gap in educator representation, and thanks to the ongoing support from The Sisters of St. Francis Foundation, the Like Me program continues to make strides in achieving this critical mission.

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