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The Grow Your Own (GYO) Staff Grant - Program Development Guide


Welcome! The Michigan Department of Education’s Office of Educator Excellence (OEE) has developed this guide for districts preparing to develop a successful Grow Your Own (GYO) teacher program with GYO Staff Grant funds. This guide will walk you through five essential steps to designing and implementing a strategic plan that addresses educator workforce needs within your district. Here's a brief overview of the key steps covered:

Step 1: Assessing District Needs

Purpose: Evaluate your district's workforce needs and capacity, considering specific teaching positions, demand for certified teachers, and the supply of non-certified personnel. This step provides a foundational understanding of the unique requirements for implementing a GYO program.

Step 2: Building Educator Preparation Program (EPP) Partnerships

Purpose: Think about partnerships you will cultivate with Educator Preparation Program (EPP) providers to provide necessary coursework, mentorship, and supervision. This step guides you through considerations like program arrangements, responsibilities, mutual commitments, and assurances for in- and out-of-state partners.

Step 3: Candidate Selection Process and Terms of Employment

Purpose: Find guidance on selecting eligible teacher candidates from existing employees, ensuring alignment with your identified needs. This step outlines the development of your criteria for eligibility and your selection process, and how to ensure your chosen candidates directly address your district’s needs.

Step 4: Identifying Cohorts

Purpose: Consider how you identify participant groups, specify endorsement areas, estimate candidate numbers, select EPP partners, and determine program timelines. This step provides a structured approach to designing cohorts that align with your district's specific needs and goals.

Step 5: Budgeting

Purpose: Address the aspect of budgeting, ensuring compliance with legislative intent and alignment with your district’s needs and program design. Clarify allowable expenses, function explanations, and considerations for "other" expenses.

By following these steps, you'll be equipped to create a tailored GYO program ready to address workforce shortages, enhance workforce diversity, and foster a sustainable pipeline of qualified educators within your district.


Step Details

  • As you prepare to implement a Grow Your Own program, we suggest you first take time to assess your district's specific needs and existing capacity.

    1. Identify Teaching Positions and Endorsements:

    • How many specific teaching positions are needed in your Local Education Agency (LEA) or Intermediate School District (ISD)?
    • What types of teaching endorsements are required for these positions? (Use this list of current endorsement codes to familiarize yourself with the available certification types.)

    2. Analyze Demand for Certified Teachers:

    • What concrete data is available on the demand for certified teachers in your LEA or ISD?
    • What are your current and future projections regarding the need for qualified educators?

    3. Evaluate Non-Certified Personnel Supply:

    • How many non-certified personnel within your LEA or ISD could potentially pursue certification?
    • In general, what are the roles of non-certified personnel, and how many are you currently considering for certification?

    4. Consider Other Indicators of Local Need and Capacity:

    • Collect evidence beyond the quantitative data, including:
      • Number of unfilled teaching positions.
      • Expected retirements within the teaching staff.
      • Number of applicants for open positions and their qualifications.
      • Staff members who have expressed interest in pursuing teaching certifications.
      • Growing student populations requiring additional educational services.
  • The next crucial step in establishing a successful Grow Your Own (GYO) program is to cultivate partnerships with approved Educator Preparation Providers (EPPs). These partnerships are essential for providing preparation coursework, mentorship, and supervision to staff candidates enrolled in your GYO program. Both in-state EPPs and out-of-state EPPs are eligible partners, provided the selected programs lead to teacher certification in the state of Michigan and meet MDE’s approval requirements. When selecting your EPP partners, ensure you are well-informed on the following topics:

    1. Program Arrangements:

    • What program arrangements are the EPPs willing to make? This includes details such as necessary semester credit hours, tuition rates (including fees) for program completion, and the scope of coursework provided (e.g., introductory courses, methods coursework, student teaching).

    2. Responsibilities of Both Parties:

    • Clearly define the responsibilities of both the district and the EPPs. This encompasses tasks such as identifying and selecting teacher candidates and mentor teachers, providing mentorship, coaching, observation, and assessment of teacher candidates, and supporting teacher candidates in preparing for the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification.

    3. Mutual Commitments:

    • Clarify mutual commitments, including the EPP's evaluation of each candidate’s background and experience to expedite their pathway to certification. Ensure both parties are committed to supporting candidates beyond the GYO program's conclusion, addressing any unmet needs (testing support, career counseling, induction support, etc.).

    4. Assurances for Out-of-State Partners:

    • If your EPP partner is from out-of-state, ensure their program leads to licensure in the approving state. Verify that the endorsement area(s) offered through the partnership align with comparable Michigan teacher endorsements.

    For each EPP partner in your GYO program, assess the following:

    1. Partnership Type:

    • Is this partnership a new or existing one for your district?

    2. Purpose of Partnership:

    • What is the primary purpose of this partnership? For instance:
      • Is it to support the collaborative design of a new GYO program tailored to current and future staff needs? The pre-existing collaborative design of a GYO program?
      • Is it primarily meant to direct staff to a pre-existing preparation program for a no-cost pathway?
      • Is the partnership solely in place to reimburse costs already incurred by staff members at that EPP?
  • Next, ensure you have a clear and strategic approach to identifying eligible teacher candidates among existing employees and selecting those who will be funded through the grant. Consider your responses to the following prompts around candidate selection:

    1. Criteria for Identifying Eligible Teacher Candidates:

    • Describe the criteria used to identify eligible teacher candidates among your current employees. Consider the qualifications, characteristics, or prerequisites that would make individuals eligible for participation in the GYO program.

    2. Selection Process Guidance:

    • Outline your process for selecting eligible teacher candidates who will receive funding through the grant. How will you facilitate the application or nomination process? Will you conduct interviews? What other steps are involved in candidate selection?

    3. Alignment with Identified Needs:

    • Do your selection criteria and process align with the needs you identified in Step 1? Consider how the candidates you choose directly address the needs you listed.
    • For example: Consider conducting a targeted survey among certified staff to gauge interest in pursuing an ESL endorsement. This can help pinpoint and select staff members who are ready and able to provide ESL services to our growing English Learner (EL) student population within the next two years.

    4. Understanding Program Limitations:

    • Ensure that your selected candidates fall within this grant’s parameters for eligibility. This grant is specifically designed to support two categories: funding support staff seeking initial teacher certification and aiding currently certified teachers in obtaining additional endorsement(s) through a degree-granting program.
  • Focus on aligning your candidate cohorts with the specific needs you outlined in Step 1. This alignment is essential to developing a targeted approach to GYO that directly addresses your district’s needs.

    1. Identifying Participant Groups:

    • Identify the employee group(s) that will participate in the GYO program. Ensure that these groups align with the groups you specified in Step 1, considering the unique needs and capacity of your district.

    2. Specifying Endorsement Areas, Subjects, or Grade Bands:

    • For each group, specify the endorsement area(s), subject area(s), and/or grade band(s) that candidates will be seeking. This alignment should reflect the needs you outlined in Step 1.

    3. Estimating Candidate Numbers:

    • How many candidates do you anticipate being included in each group? Consider factors such as district needs, capacity, and the demand for certified teachers in specific areas.

    4. Selecting Educator Preparation Provider Partners:

    • Identify Educator Preparation Provider (EPP) partners who will support each participant group. Do your choices align with the partnerships you outlined in Step 2?

    5. Determining Program Timelines:

    • What are the timelines your selected candidates will face? Figure out when these candidates started or will start their programs, and when they are expected to finish. Establish clear timelines that align with the grant period and district goals.


    • Group 1: Support Staff Seeking Initial Teacher Certification
      • Endorsement Area(s): Elementary Education
      • Anticipated Number: 15 candidates
      • EPP Partner: XYZ University
      • Program Start: Fall 2024
      • Expected Completion: Spring 2026
    • Group 2: Currently Certified Teachers Seeking Additional Endorsement(s)
      • Endorsement Area(s): Special Education
      • Anticipated Number: 8 candidates
      • EPP Partner: ABC College
      • Program Start: Summer 2023
      • Expected Completion: Fall 2025
  • In the final step of this guide, turn your attention to your program’s finances: Here, you begin to align your budget with the primary legislative intent of the grant and with your district’s program needs.

    1. Legislative Intent and Allowable Expenses:

    • Understand the primary legislative intent of providing a "no-cost" pathway for staff enrolling in educator preparation programs. Here’s a link to the language in the State School Aid Act (Section 27b in Public Act 144 of 2022; MCL Section 388.1627b).
    • Familiarize yourself with allowable expenses. These include tuition, fees, books, testing fees, travel, substitute employee salary, and other costs related to certifying staff. They can also include an EXPLORE program for grades 6 through 12, if you opt for this funding (although this may only make up 10% of your total request).

    2. Budget Explanations:

    • Justify and specifically break down your program’s expenses. Try to do this in one to two sentences for each function code. Are your explanations clear? Do your budgeted expenses align with the grant’s legislative intent and with the needs and partnerships you identified in previous steps?

    3. "Other" Expenses:

    • If budgeting for "other" expenses, can you justify the necessity and avoid costs that are ancillary to your program?
    • Understand that necessary "other" costs that may include program fees assessed separately, essential software for coursework, or technology required for online programs. Provide justifications for each item.
    • Be cautious of ancillary costs that are unlikely to be approved, such as additional staffing (unless their work is directly connected to the program funded by this grant), coaching, professional development, and reassignment fees. Be explicit in your rationale and avoid duplicating services provided by your Educator Preparation Program partners.