Racial justice teacher development institute wins $100,000 grant

Author: David Danelski
December 1, 2023

Rita Kohli
Rita Kohli

A UCR-affiliated institute for racial justice has received a $100,000 grant that will support teacher professional development during the 2024 and 2025 calendar years, with a focus on engaging teachers of color in California public schools.

This funding for the Institute for Teachers of Color Committed to Racial Justice, known as ITOC, from the California Endowment comes on top of the $25,000 the institute received from the endowment last year.

“We have so much respect for the California Endowment and its vision to advance racial justice in California, and we feel so grateful for their investment in the work we have been doing to support teachers of color as racial justice leaders in K-12 schools,” said ITOC’s co-founder and co-director Rita Kohli, who is an associate professor in UCR’s School of Education.

The ITOC hosts workshops and events for more than a hundred teachers of color each year. These teachers often face marginalization and alienation within predominantly white school staffs. ITOC works to support their well-being, strengthen their racial literacy, and cultivate their racial justice leadership capacities to improve educational conditions for students of color. The workshops are held virtually throughout the school year and on campus during the summer.

This work helps bridge a large gap in U.S. public schools, where more than half the students are people of color, while only about 21 percent of the teachers are people of color.

Kohli co-founded ITOC in 2011 as a postdoctoral fellow at Santa Clara University. A former middle school teacher in Oakland, Calif., Kohli has been a professor in UCR’s School of Education since 2014. Her research focuses on how race, power, and inequities intersect in K-12 schools and teacher education programs.