Chapman University’s Thompson Policy Institute on Disability (TPI) was recently awarded a new $250,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates Foundation Teacher Preparation Transformation Center Fellowship is a nine-month proposal development grant. The primary outcome of the grant is to develop a California-based Educator Preparation Transformation Center. Such centers seek to recruit, support, and retain a strong and diverse educator workforce.

“This generous $250,000 grant from the Gates Foundation is helping us to develop a proposal to operate an Educator Transformation Center,” said TPI’s Associate Director Audri Gomez, Ph.D. “If successful, our proposal could lead to Chapman University hosting one of only a few fully funded Technical Assistance Centers in the United States and up to $4 million in additional funding.”

Teacher Preparation Transformation Center

TPI has started developing the proposal to operate a new Teacher Preparation Transformation Center, which it has named the California Educator Preparation Innovation Center (CalEPIC).

In alignment with the missions of both TPI and the Gates Foundation, CalEPIC will focus on equity and access to high-quality general education classrooms for all students. Doing so involves developing a strong and diverse educator workforce by supporting pre-service and new teachers. The center will also provide the teachers with continuing support through their first few years working in schools to improve teacher retention.

CalEPIC will provide technical assistance to Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) and their PK-12 partners by helping them develop rigorous and relevant programming. By building strong relationships between teacher education programs and pre-K-12 schools, the initiative ultimately seeks to better meet the needs of traditionally marginalized students, including Black, Latinx, and economically disadvantaged students as well as students with disabilities.

Ongoing Technical Assistance

Last fall, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded TPI a $420,000 grant to support the state’s rollout of teacher residency programs. In partnership with state and national education partners, TPI used that initial grant award to provide technical assistance and resources to local education agencies (LEAs) and institutes of higher education (IHEs) to help develop high-quality clinical residencies.

Following widespread school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, using the Gates Foundation funding TPI rapidly responded to the crisis last spring by helping to develop and deliver the virtual series of CAIS (California Alliance for Inclusive Schooling) Active Education Webinars for teacher candidates.

Thanks to the financial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Thompson Family Foundation, TPI was able to offer 12 webinars in spring and fall 2020 at no cost to the webinar participants.

With this initial $420,000 grant for teacher residency program support, TPI now has two ongoing Gates Foundation awards totaling nearly $700,000.


Thompson Policy Institute on Disability
Founded in 2015, Chapman University’s Thompson Policy Institute on Disability (TPI) strives to impact policy by reducing barriers that limit access to learning, living, and working for individuals with disabilities. TPI efforts involve a combination of original research, training, and advocacy work in the areas of inclusive education and services.

Visit TPI’s website for more information about its research and ongoing initiatives.