State Rep. Reggie Miller (D-Van Buren Township) speaks in support of the Budget on May 8, 2024, on the House Floor of the Michigan Capitol in Lansing.

LANSING, Mich., June 6, 2024 — The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) announced today the recipients of the Future Proud Michigan Educator EXPLORE grants for school districts to financially assist students interested in educational careers. In light of the ongoing teacher shortage, House Dems allocated almost $750,000 to local schools to pay for tuition reimbursement of EXPLORE program recipients who hope to return to their hometown schools to teach.

“Current and future teachers should be supported with the resources they need. Many educators are experiencing stagnant wages, slashed benefits, growing class sizes and fewer resources for their students, so it’s no wonder we’re seeing a teacher shortage in Michigan,” said state Rep. Reggie Miller (D-Van Buren Township). “Every child deserves a high quality education. That’s why this funding is so crucial — it will directly allow local schools to hire more teachers and support teacher professional development.”

House Dems are committed to fighting for the hardworking teachers of Michigan. Recent accomplishments of the House Dem majority include forgiving school debt of predominantly school districts of color, free school meals for public school students, record per-pupil school funding, increasing the number of AEDs in schools, water filters in preschools and allowing teachers to collectively bargain on more subjects. Our children’s success and well-being depend on a high-quality education provided by educators with fair working conditions.

“Schools are the heart of our communities —  they put our kids on the path to successful futures,” said state Rep. Kristian Grant (D-Grand Rapids). “Michigan kids have been underinvested in for far too long, which, as a mother, has been incredibly disappointing to see over the years. I’m thrilled to see these smart investments to help lower costs for schools and put more money in the classroom where it belongs.”

Districts awarded an EXPLORE Program grant receive $10,000 per school building to support programs for students in grades six through 12 interested in teaching. The MDE will collaborate with these districts on program design, implementation and provide free curricular resources and professional development for instructors. Student opportunities include visiting educator preparation programs, tutoring younger students, partnering with teachers and participating in a Future Educator Signing Day to celebrate college decisions.

“Tomorrow’s teachers should have every resource available to begin their careers in education,” said state Rep. Kara Hope (D-Holt). “These grants will help eliminate barriers for students who want to work in education. The grants address the current teacher shortage by easing the financial burden of college, making a career in education attainable for more people. I applaud these funds, and I remain committed to ensuring that our schools have the resources they need to provide high-quality education for all students.”

House Democrats are making sure every young Michigander has access to high quality education, from learning their ABCs to moving up in the skilled trades or earning a degree. Plus, they’re working diligently to ensure schools are safe and teachers are supported, improving education outcomes and workforce readiness. In the recent House budget, Democrats recommended an increased foundation allowance and lowered costs for schools by putting available state dollars toward lowering teachers’ retirement costs.

“It is crucial to address the teacher shortage and to prepare future educators who’ll return home and teach one day,” said state Rep. Helena Scott (D-Detroit). “Our investments represent a significant step toward ensuring schools can deliver the quality education our students deserve in the future. By allocating these resources, we are investing in today’s students to become the teachers we need tomorrow in Detroit Public Schools. This is the support future teachers need to complete their education on time while also ensuring we continue growing the field.”

Some of the EXPLORE grant recipients include Detroit Public Schools Community District, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Hazel Park Schools, Holt Public Schools, Ida Public Schools, Kentwood Public Schools, Lincoln Consolidated Schools, Muskegon Public Schools, Oakland International Academy, Romulus Community Schools and Van Buren Public Schools.