Unum has donated $10,000 to the Foundation for Portland Public Schools (FPPS) to strengthen efforts to recruit, hire, and retain a more diverse staff within the Portland Public Schools. This grant is part of the Foundation’s Addressing the Opportunity Gap Campaign, a community campaign to accelerate and deepen the school district’s equity work.
The Portland Public Schools has experienced profound demographic shifts in the last 30 years. In 1989, fewer than 10% of PPS students identified as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC). By 2010, that percentage had grown to 35%. This school year, 48% of students identify as BIPOC. Like many districts in the US, the demographics of teachers employed by PPS has not kept pace with its student population.
Barbara Stoddard, Executive Director of Human Resources for the district, explained,
“Research shows that teachers of color have a substantial positive impact for all students. Studies have linked diverse teaching staff to increased academic achievement, improved graduation rates, and increased preparation for students to live and work in a diverse, collaborative world. I appreciate Unum’s support which will allow us to advance the Portland Promise People and Equity goals through targeted, external recruiting efforts and intentional, internal pathways to expand the number of BIPOC educators in the district.”
The Portland Public Schools plans to use these funds to broaden recruitment efforts, but also to explicitly work on the culture and systems that exist within the district to support BIPOC teachers, ensure opportunities for advancement, and strive to retain teachers once they are hired.
“When I talk to students they often tell me how important it is to them to have a faculty that more closely reflects their experiences and backgrounds,” said Superintendent Xavier Botana. “This has been a priority for us as a district for the past four years and while we’ve made gains, we have a great deal more work to do. I am grateful to Unum for their support and partnership in our efforts.”
Unum has been a strong supporter of the Portland Public Schools for many years. In July 2020, The Unum Social Justice Fund was launched to create stronger, more equitable communities by supporting organizations working to end racism, discrimination and bias. This is the first grant that FPPS has received from the Social Justice Fund, on behalf of the Portland Public Schools.