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Explore Grant: Section 504

As a continued part of Michigan’s efforts to grow and diversify the educator workforce and reduce educator shortages, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is excited to continue the Future Proud Michigan Educator (Future PME) Campaign with grants for Local Education Agencies, Public-School Academies, and Intermediate School Districts.

As announced in a recent MDE memo, eligible applicants are invited to apply for funds to:

  • Create or expand EXPLORE courses for students in grades 6-12. Grants of up to $10,000 per school are available.


  • Provide tuition grants for recent EXPLORE graduates who are enrolled in a pathway to traditional teacher certification and are employed by the applicant. Grants of up to $10,000 per candidate are available.

Applications are now CLOSED for the FY 24 504 EXPLORE Grants.

EXPLORE Grant Timeline

Applications open: January 19, 2024

Applications due:  February 23, 2024

Award Period: October 1, 2023 - September 30, 2024

Grant Details

These grants jointly aim to combat teacher shortages and to promote a diverse and representative teacher workforce by incentivizing cohesive systems of support for future educators. Through this grant, we will encourage models that enable a district’s students – especially demographically representative and historically marginalized populations – to see the recruitment and retention process to its end: from exploration and preparation, to early employment and clinical practice, to returning to the district as a certified teacher.

EXPLORE Program Grant

  • Purpose: This grant funds the development and maintenance of districts’ EXPLORE programming for students in grades 6-12 who are interested in a career in teaching. In the Future PME EXPLORE programs, local and intermediate school districts will develop hands-on learning experiences in teaching for students. As a partner, MDE will provide districts with flexible models for implementation; EXPLORE content, competencies, and curriculum; and free professional development for educators.
  • Funding Structure: Districts are awarded up to $10,000 per participating secondary school building.
  • Eligibility: Districts who have established EXPLORE programs OR who are developing or expanding EXPLORE programs.

Employed Graduate Grant

  • Purpose: This grant bridges a gap in support* for aspiring educators by funding pre-teacher preparation program coursework for EXPLORE graduates. Awarded districts will employ their EXPLORE graduates (part-time or full-time) and will offer support that focuses on retention through the transition from high school to an educator preparation program (EPP), with the goal of hiring their graduates as teachers upon initial certification. The grant incentivizes the creation of GYO systems of support for teacher candidates, including viable employment during teacher preparation and more experience working with students/teachers.
  • Funding Structure: The grant will reimburse districts up to $10,000 in tuition costs per graduate pursuing initial teacher certification. The graduate must have participated in the district’s future educator programming; must be employed by the district within the appropriate fiscal year; and must be following an IHE-articulated pathway for teacher preparation and certification at an in-state IHE (including community college, which must have an articulation agreement with an EPP at a four-year institution in place).
  • Eligibility: Districts who 1) have established EXPLORE programs AND 2) have established OR are developing GYO programming that supports recent graduates.

*Current supports for aspiring educators include: Michigan Reconnect (which begins only at age 21); MI Future Educator Fellowship (which begins only upon EPP enrollment) and MI Future Educator Stipend (which is only available to student teachers). Candidates who begin their pathway at a community college or at an educator preparation institution that requires pre-program coursework for EPP program admission cannot yet access these dedicated financial supports.

Fund Expenditures

 For 6th- 12th grade EXPLORE students:
  • Professional learning aligned with Future PME EXPLORE competencies
  • Teacher collaboration and planning for Future PME EXPLORE programs
  • Experiences, events, and clubs for Future PME EXPLORE students
  • Media and marketing to promote a Future PME EXPLORE programs 

For EXPLORE Graduates-as-Staff:

  • Tuition, program fees, and testing fees for employed EXPLORE graduates who are on a pathway to traditional teacher certification. 
  • Note: Graduates may not concurrently be recipients of the MI Future Educator Fellowship/Stipend or Section 27b Grant Funds.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • No. Applicants are welcome to apply for one or both grants.

  • Local education agencies (LEAs), intermediate school districts (ISDs), and public school academies (PSAs).  Individual educators are not eligible applicants; they are encouraged to inquire with their building or district administration about submitting a grant application.

  • Candidates will need to be employed in part-time or full-time roles in which they are supervised by a district employee. Examples include before/after care staff, tutor, teaching assistant, summer school staff, etc.

  • A candidate can be enrolled in any Michigan institution with an approved teacher preparation program OR in any Michigan 2-year college with an articulation agreement for traditional teacher certification. If you are unsure about the existence of an articulation agreement, please contact the educator preparation program in which the candidate intends to enroll.

  • Awardees will submit reimbursement requests in the summer of 2024, to be received via State Aid in August or October.

  • No. This grant is intended to remove the barriers for young people as they work toward teacher certification, so there is no penalty for candidates who decide not to teach or to teach in a location that is not their home district. Applicants are encouraged to select candidates mindfully, with full confidence that the candidates have the disposition and potential to successfully fill open positions in the future.

  • Yes. A downloadable copy of the application template is available. MDE recommends that districts use this resource to carefully draft their responses, keeping a copy of their intended finished responses for their own records and later reference.

  • No. The district must pay the employee.

  • Yes.  Districts are expected to use this opportunity to support candidate retention in and completion of an educator preparation program.  As such, districts should prioritize employment situations that offer candidates mentorship, feedback, training, or coaching. Further, districts should prioritize employing candidates in settings that will allow them to develop skills that lead to successful classroom teaching.  The most successful applicants will offer candidate retention supports (or leverage supports offered by colleges and universities) such as: dedicated staffing for college transition and success, program advising to clarify credit requirements, supplemental meetings to build rapport with other future educators, or career counseling.