A Beacon of Progress: Diversifying Rhode Island's Teacher Workforce

Embracing diversity, promoting anti-racist pedagogy, and shaping the future of education.

The Rhode Island School for Progressive Education (RISPE) is a beacon of transformation within the Rhode Island educational sector. RISPE holds the distinction of being the first higher education institution in Rhode Island explicitly founded to diversify the state’s teacher workforce and champion anti-racist education.

Our Journey

Our journey began over four years ago, with generous support from the Rhode Island Foundation and the United Way of Rhode Island.

In March 2019, we received unanimous approval from the Rhode Island Council on Postsecondary Education, marking a significant milestone in our growth. 

As of fall 2022, RISPE offers a PK-12 ESOL Certification Program, Respaldo de MLL, and an Accelerated Teacher Certification Program in Elementary Education.

Our Vision

Our vision is to bring about a fundamental change in Rhode Island’s urban public schools by cultivating a diverse teacher pipeline and instilling the use of anti-racist pedagogy. 

We believe that every student deserves an equitable education, and we’re working hard to ensure that our teachers are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to make this a reality.

Our Purpose

At the core of our mission is our devoted faculty and staff, dedicated to reshaping Rhode Island education. They champion an inclusive, anti-racist pedagogy and prioritize high-quality clinical experiences, ensuring every classroom is a beacon of understanding and growth.

Our curriculum, deeply rooted in collaboration with educators and district partners, combines proven best practices with invaluable real-time feedback, aiming to empower every teacher and student in Rhode Island’s urban public schools.

The Need for RISPE

The demand for diverse and culturally competent educators is a pressing national issue, with 40% of schools having no teachers of color. 

In Rhode Island, less than 5% of our teachers are people of color, while students of color make up 40% of the overall student population, and 80% in our urban schools. 

RISPE was born out of this urgent need to redress the imbalance and foster an educational environment that reflects our diverse community.

Our Approach

At RISPE, we are proactive and adaptive. We rely on best practices, real-time feedback from educators, and our district partners to deliver relevant and supportive programming. 

Our goal is to produce highly-effective educators ready to champion equitable education.

The Future

RISPE is continuously evolving, with plans to launch more certification programs and residency-style degree programs. 

Our upcoming programs include Accelerated Teacher Certification Programs in Secondary Math and Science and degree programs like MAT with dual certification in Elementary and ESL Education, and an MEd in Urban School Leadership with a Building Level Administrator certification.

Got More Questions?

RISPE currently offers a PK-12 ESL Certification, an alternative certification in Elementary Education, and a Multilingual Learner (MLL) Endorsement Program. Subject to RIDE approval, we aim to launch alternative certification programs in Secondary math and Secondary science, as well as our elementary and secondary special education certifications programs by summer 2024. We are also approved to offer two degree programs: an MEd and MAT, which are set to launch in 2024 and 2025, respectively.

Yes, RISPE received unanimous approval from the Rhode Island Council on Postsecondary Education on March 20th, 2019.

RISPE is in the process of seeking NECHE (formerly NEASC) accreditation, which can take several years.

Our MAT program will fulfill the requirements to obtain the Elementary Education (1-6) and Elementary ESL Education certifications. Meanwhile, our MEd candidates will complete requirements for the Building Level Administrator certification.

We offer two schedules for the ESOL program ranging from 13-18 months. The MAT program extends for 15 months, while the MEd is designed as a 12-month program.

We’re humbled and thankful for the backing we’ve received from a diverse range of highly-regarded foundations, philanthropic organizations, and local supporters within our community. Our mission to transform education in Rhode Island is made possible through the support of the Rhode Island Foundation, NewSchools Venture Fund, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the United Way of Rhode Island, The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, the Joukowsky Family Foundation, and our wonderful grassroots donors.

Elizabeth Ramirez

Title, School Name

“I owe my success as a school principal to RISPE’s Leadership Training Program. The practical insights, combined with the mentorship I received, were instrumental in shaping my leadership.”


Ready to join us in reshaping Rhode Island's educational landscape? Select a program and apply today!