KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Over a dozen Kansas City-area school districts are among 125 recipients of $10,000 state-funded grants.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education awarded the first “Grow Your Own” grants to local education agencies.

Area school districts like Blue Springs, Center, Fort Osage, Liberty, Park Hill, Raymore-Peculiar and more were selected. You can find the full list of grant recipients here.

Fifteen educator preparation programs and five community colleges also received funding.

DESE’s 2024 budget includes $2.5 million for each school district’s grant, which will go toward creating to strengthening their “Grow Your Own” program. The program is meant to increase teacher recruitment across Missouri.

“Teachers remain the number one school-level factor that can impact student achievement,” Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven said.

“We appreciate the General Assembly recognizing the urgent need to address the educator workforce shortage here in Missouri, and how important Grow Your Own programs are in solving this issue.”

Grown Your Own Programs aim to attract local students and non-certified school staff like paraprofessionals to become teachers. Districts can use the funding for dual credit courses, scholarships, internships and other opportunities.

At Tipton High School, for example, the district said it offers an Introduction to Education course in collaboration with the University of Central Missouri. These prospective teachers then receive mentoring and cadet teaching experience.