Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1998-1999 index

Distributed November 11, 1998
Contact: Kristen Lans

Application deadline Nov. 25

$1.2-million grant will help Southeast Asians become R.I. teachers

A new program at Brown University will increase the number of Southeast Asian teachers in Rhode Island, an underrepresented population in the school systems.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Brown University recently received a $1.2-million grant to begin Project ADVANCE, a program to help 15 Southeast Asians get their teaching certificates in Rhode Island during the next five years.

The U.S. Department of Education grant will fund support services for program participants, including workshops and study groups, financial assistance for tuition and books, technology instruction, and job placement services. Each participant will also be assigned a group of mentors to work with them individually on planning their course of study.

The goal of the project, designed and run by the Education Alliance at Brown, is to increase the representation of teachers from the Southeast Asian community in Rhode Island schools. (ADVANCE is an acronym for Advocacy for Diverse Venues for Accessing New Careers in Education.) The Education Alliance is an organization that responds to the needs of diverse student populations in the public schools.

Although there are an estimated 18,000 Southeast Asians in the state, the majority in Providence, there are few teachers from that community in the schools, said Fran Collignon, Education Alliance project coordinator. Hmong, Laotian, Cambodian and Vietnamese students in grades K-12 need advocates and role models from their cultural backgrounds in their schools, she said.

"Project ADVANCE means a lot to us," said Joseph Le, director of the Socio Economic Development Center for Southeast Asians in Providence. "It will help a population that really needs help to advance."

Southeast Asians interested in becoming teachers often struggle with the inability to pay for college while trying to feed a family at the same time, according to Le. Even those who receive their teaching certificates sometimes must take other jobs because they can not bring in enough money working as substitute teachers while looking for full-time positions, he said.

Applications for Project ADVANCE are available at the Education Alliance, 222 Richmond St., and the Socio Economic Development Center for Southeast Asians, 620 Potters Ave., Providence. The deadline for applications is Nov. 25, and selection will be made by early December.