National University Awarded $6.5 Million U.S. Department of Education Grant to Develop Teacher Residency Program in Chula Vista

Sanford College of Education announces Teacher Quality Partnership grant to strengthen the teaching workforce at high-need K-6 schools in southern California

SAN DIEGO, CA (September 30, 2022) — National University, a Veteran-founded nonprofit university serving more than 30,000 working adults and one of the largest providers of teacher credentials in the United States, today announced that its Sanford College of Education has been awarded a $6.5 million U.S. Department of Education Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grant to address teacher shortages in Chula Vista, the seventh largest city in Southern California.

Through its five-year project entitled “Advancing Student Progress through an Innovative Residency Experience (ASPIRE)”, National University will establish a teacher residency partnership that will prepare 100 residents to become multiple-subject or single-subject certified teachers in the high-need schools within Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESD), where teacher attrition remains high.

“Addressing teacher shortages in California and nationally, starts by retaining newly prepared teachers through an adapted medical residency approach in which coursework and clinical experiences are tightly aligned and residents are supported by mentors in the schools where they will likely start their professional career,” said  Dr. Robert Lee, Dean of the Sanford College of Education, an expert in educator workforce and teacher quality issues who founded the National Center for Urban Education at Illinois State University earlier in his career. “This program model is an example of how universities can intentionally partner with school districts and community-based organizations to fully immerse teacher candidates into the culture of a school, while providing contextually-situated mentoring for both professional growth and community acculturation.”

The announcement comes at a time when schools of education and teacher preparation programs across the country are working to address teacher shortages. More than two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began, schools and districts throughout the U.S. are grappling with a shortage of well-qualified teachers. California schools are among those that have been hit the hardest, with 80 percent of districts in the state experiencing teacher shortages. With this inaugural TQP program, National University will partner with CVESD, South Bay Family YMCA, and the Chula Vista Community Collaborative to help create a more equitable teacher talent pipeline that reflects the diversity of the children and families the school district serves.

“The Chula Vista Elementary School District supports National University’s mission to prepare exceptional, knowledgeable, skilled, and culturally responsive urban teachers who will be committed to our District,” said Dr. Eduardo Reyes, Superintendent. “As we have developed a new system for enhancing teacher quality through our intensive mentoring and induction, NU’s model for developing a co-teaching residency program will advance our collective work forward. We look forward to the recruitment opportunities ASPIRE will bring by filling our high-need teaching areas with a pool of highly qualified teachers who reflect our community’s diversity. We see this program enhancing our schools and making a strong connection with our community.”

Over the next five years, National University’s Sanford College of Education and the College of Letters and Sciences will collaborate with district and community partners to create an integrated, comprehensive system of teacher recruitment, preparation, and induction with two years of teacher mentoring to support teacher development and retention. By the end of the grant, the program will have prepared 100 teachers with diverse backgrounds to teach in Chula Vista, ensuring that the 2,400 students in this under-resourced district have access to high quality teachers and inclusive learning environments that support social emotional learning of the whole child.

“This collaboration and grant furthers National University’s transformative movement to positively impact the communities we serve and more directly, the lives of educators and students,” said Dr. Michael R. Cunningham, Chancellor of National University System.  

As the largest provider of teaching credentials in the state of California, National University’s Sanford College of Education offers more than 15 terminal degrees and certificates, bringing to bear a unique combination of faculty expertise, online instruction, school and district partnerships, research opportunities, and holistic student support to meet the diverse needs of the K-12 education workforce.

To learn more about the Sanford College of Education, visit

About National University: National University, a Veteran-founded nonprofit, has been dedicated to meeting the needs of hard-working adults by providing accessible, affordable, achievable higher education opportunities since 1971. As San Diego’s largest private nonprofit university, NU offers over 75 online and on-campus programs and flexible four-week classes designed to help students reach their goals while balancing busy lives. Since its founding, the NU community has grown to over 30,000 students and 190,000 alumni around the globe, many of whom serve in helping industries such as business, education, health care, cybersecurity, and law and criminal justice. National University’s merge with Northcentral University will be complete in November 2022, growing the institution by over 10,000 students and 80 graduate and doctoral programs. Learn more at

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