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he UCR School of Education, or SOE, is building a pipeline supporting UCR undergraduate students in the education major as they pursue graduate or credential programs. The FIERCE Scholars program, which stands for Fueling the Inland Empire Region with Community Educators, is designed to improve equitable educational and economic outcomes in one of the fastest-growing population centers in the country. The new program is the brainchild of SOE interim dean Louie Rodríguez and is coordinated by Amos Lee, an assistant professor of teaching. Here’s a look at the new program and its goals for the years ahead:


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is the number of students selected for the program’s first cohort. Students in the program will receive a $3,000 scholarship: $1,000 during their junior and senior years as an undergraduate, and $1,000 to support the completion of a master’s program in the SOE. Additional benefits include mentoring, professional development, and the possibility of job opportunities with partner districts.

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from SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union will fund two additional cohorts selected fall 2022 and 2023. “We are honored to support FIERCE Scholars, an incredible program providing a more equitable pathway for aspiring educators,” said Bill Cheney, SchoolsFirst FCU Chief Executive Officer. “The program’s focus on developing diversity among educators in the region will inspire future generations of students in the community.”

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is the number of first-generation college students among the program’s first cohort of 12. Lee noted a focus of the FIERCE Scholars program is to support the transition from undergraduate to a graduate or professional program, in part by providing access to information about teacher credentials and school psychology, among other things.

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of undergraduate students in the SOE identify as students of color. By recruiting them into graduate and credential programs, the FIERCE Scholars program aims to turn these students into highly qualified teachers who will serve in Inland Empire schools.

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is the number of Latino teachers per 100 Latino students compared to 15.9 white teachers per 100 white students in the Inland Empire, even though a majority of students in the region are Latino. The data was highlighted in a UCR Center for Social Innovation study emphasizing the need for greater diversity among Inland Empire teachers and education leaders. In addition to the lack of educator diversity, many districts face teacher shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lack highly qualified educators in key subjects of math, science, special education, and bilingual education.


Return to UCR Magazine: Summer 2022