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​Innovative Principal Prep2Practice Guidelines

Grant Opportunity at a Glance

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is requesting applications for the Innovative Principal Prep2Practice competitive grant.

Grant Purpose: For approved educator preparation programs to build innovative partnerships with local education agencies that improve the "prep to practice" linkage in the preparation of school leaders.

Performance Period: Funding may be used during the 2022-23 academic year.

Eligible Applicants: Current PDE-approved educator preparation programs housed in institutions of higher education may apply. Programs partnering with one or more high-need local educational agencies receive priority.

Award Amount: Approximately $2 million is available to fund awards of up to $100,000 each.

How to Apply: Applications must be submitted via eGrants.

Contact: Contact the Office of Postsecondary and Higher Education at


Challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have added to longstanding issues surrounding the preparation of school leaders. When Local Education Agencies (LEAs) shifted abruptly to remote learning to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, institutions of higher education (IHEs) were also required to shift learning modalities away from in-person instruction toward remote learning during the spring of 2020 and beyond. This pivot in the delivery of instruction in PA disrupted not just the academic trajectory of K-12 students, but also the postsecondary journeys of college students preparing to become school leaders. One particularly acute area of concern involves significant turnover in the principal workforce due to the challenges they faced in leading their schools during the pandemic.

Many school leaders may find themselves addressing challenges that fall outside of what they received as part of their pre-service experience and/or professional development. The pandemic occurred at a time when it is critically important for all educators to be well versed in culturally relevant and sustaining approaches to address the inequities being revealed in stark detail by the COVID-19 crisis. New demands are being placed on all educators, such as the need to address the social and emotional needs heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. The commonwealth needs school leaders to be able to support the success of educators and students in their buildings.

LEAs are now facing significant staffing challenges. These challenges are magnified by the rapidly evolving landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic and the risks and opportunities associated with alternative modes of operation.

The disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic also shed light on very real inequities and concerns that are present in our systems of education. Fortunately, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has been developing programs and initiatives to address shortages and the absence of racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and linguistic diversity in the educator workforce for the past several years. There is growing interest in developing culturally relevant and sustaining educators and the final amendments to the Chapter 49 regulations governing educator certification lay the foundation for providing current and future educators with the opportunity to develop these and other competencies, including more knowledge about and sensitivity to the importance of professional ethics and structured literacy.

PDE has a deep history of developing regulations and interventions designed to increase the supply of well-prepared school leaders. One of the most recent interventions took the form of the Innovative Principal Residency program which was funded in 2018-19, 2019-20, and 2020-21. This grant program enabled IHEs with principal preparation programs to experiment with an extended internship/residency component.

In 2021, the Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic at Mathematica released its evaluation (PDF) of both the Innovative Teacher and Principal Residency Grants for the 2019-20 academic year. PDE encourages those interested in the role year-long residencies can play in principal preparation to review this report to gain insights into program design and to glean the lessons learned and areas for improvement.

While the Innovative Principal Residency grant program focused on refining the traditional internship/residency component of school leader preparation programs, PDE also recognizes the importance of providing enhanced clinical experiences within preparation programs as well as assistance during the transition into a school leader position following certification. A well-designed induction program can support novice school leaders during their early years and can improve effectiveness as well as retention.

Enhanced clinical experiences for aspiring school leaders at both the internship/residency and induction levels presuppose a strong collaboration between school leader preparation programs and cooperating LEAs. Strengthening these partnerships is a priority for the Department.

Research has demonstrated the importance of integrating clinical experiences regardless of whether they take the form of an internship or a residency into the larger school leader preparation program.1 Greater integration of this kind is a parallel high priority for PDE. Given the growing awareness of the need to further diversify the educator leader workforce, PDE recognizes the importance of increasing the supply of highly qualified recruits into leadership roles from underrepresented groups within the field, particularly those from racial and ethnic minority groups. PDE also recognizes the need for all educators, including school leaders, to be knowledgeable about and sensitive to the need for culturally relevant and sustaining education.

PDE acknowledges and supports the progress made by the Pennsylvania Educator Diversity Consortium (PEDC) to address diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the commonwealth. The PEDC is a grassroots organization of PK-12, higher education, nonprofit, and government leaders that is striving to increase the number of educators of color as well as culturally-responsive and sustaining educators in Pennsylvania. This organization has created a rich set of resources to diversify the Commonwealth's educator workforce, including reports, toolkits, and an annual summit,

PDE now wishes to build upon existing efforts as from the research literature to begin a new round of funding for innovative efforts to prepare the next generation of school leaders.


PDE is pleased to announce a grant opportunity, Innovative Principal Prep 2 Practice, for approved educator preparation programs to build innovative partnerships with LEAs that improve the "prep to practice" linkage in the preparation of school leaders. The Department sees cohesive and deepened clinical experience as an important means of addressing the overarching issues that prompted the creation of the Innovative Principal Residency grant program. In particular, applicants for this funding will be asked to respond to questions about how their proposed project will:

  1. Deepen the Clinical Experience

    An Educator Preparation Program (EPP)/LEA partnership could find ways to provide extra release time from teaching duties for full time teachers who are pursuing their 360-hour principal internship to increase engagement.

  2. Enhance the Degree of Integration Between Clinical Experience and Other Components of Preparation Programs

    Courses and other components of school leader preparation programs need to be attentive to issues in the world of practice. Clinical experience should not be something that occurs in isolation toward the conclusion of a program.

  3. Provide Enriched Oversight and Supervision

    An EPP/LEA partnership could explore ways to build bridges between the oversight coming from the EPP during the principal internship and the oversight provided by the mentor principal on site.

  4. Enhance Induction

    An EPP/LEA partnership could find ways to keep the EPP connected to a novice school leader during the early years of experience in a new administrative role.

  5. Enhance Diversity in the School Leader Workforce

    An EPP/LEA partnership could redouble its efforts to recruit diverse candidates into the preparation program. Experience has shown that some very promising candidates need to be encouraged to pursue leadership opportunities. Explicit efforts to recruit and support candidates from racial and ethnically diverse groups can be very effective.

  6. Provide Targeted Professional Development in Delivering Culturally Relevant and Sustaining Education

    An EPP/LEA partnership could work to develop webinars and other online training modules designed to introduce Pennsylvania school leaders to the competencies and related toolkits being developed to support culturally relevant and sustaining pedagogies. These efforts should be coordinated with existing programmatic efforts within the various leadership academies offered by PDE.


Applicants will be invited to submit proposals that meet the goals identified above. PDE has established a maximum award level of $100,000. Collaborations are encouraged. The EPPs at a higher education institution that apply in partnership with one or more high-need local educational agencies will receive priority.


RFP's will be issued by July 18, 2022 and will be due October 21, 2022. PDE will review and make awards that will begin in the Fall of 2022. Funding is a for a one-year period (2022-2023 academic year).

Eligible Applicants

The Pennsylvania Department of Education welcomes current approved EPPs to apply for programmatic funding for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Approximately $2 million in funding is available to be shared amongst all grantees. Funding will be awarded to those applicants who demonstrate a willingness and ability to develop a sustainable partnership with one or more LEAs to achieve the identified goals. Grantees will be responsible for disbursement of all funds once selections have been made.

Eligible applicants may apply for planning grants of up to $100,000 in competitive funding for programmatic support. PDE's goal is to encourage institutions to plan for the integration of all the practicum experiences.

Priority will be given to EPPs in good standing2 housed within IHEs in partnership with one or more high-need LEAs defined as:

  • an LEA with schools that have high rates of racial and ethnic minority students or high rates of low-income students, an LEA that can demonstrate chronic, multiple teacher shortages in special education, STEM subjects, or other state-identified or local shortage areas.

Eligible Expenses

Only items directly related to eligible programs and activities covered in this request for application will be funded. Grant funds paid to institutions of higher education with educator preparation programs may not be used for direct salaries, fringe benefits, or operational rates. Indirect cost rates may not be used to claim administrative costs. Administrative costs (not to exceed 5% of the grant award) can be claimed as long as those costs are itemized within the application.

All budgets will be reviewed to evaluate appropriateness and connection to proposed grant activities and goals.

Funding Source

Federal Title II-A

Funding Period

Resources will cover funded activities through June 30, 2023.

Application and Award Timeline

To be considered for funding, all applications must be completed and submitted to PDE no later than October 21, 2022. The submission must be made to PDE via the eGrants system.

Issuing Office and Contact Information

Contact the Office of Postsecondary and Higher Education at for technical assistance or to obtain answers to questions related to the grant application. All substantive questions must be submitted by October 21, 2022.

1Darling-Hammond, L., LaPointe, M., Meyerson, D., Orr. M. T., & Cohen, C. (2007). Preparing School Leaders for a Changing World: Lessons from Exemplary Leadership Development Programs. Stanford, CA: Stanford University, Stanford Educational Leadership Institute; Wallace Foundation (2007). Educational Leadership: A Bridge to School Reform. National Conference, New York, New York, October 22-24; Corcoran, S., Schwartz, A.E., & Weinstein, M. (2009): The New York City Aspiring Principals Program: A School-Level Evaluation. New York, New York, New York University; Wallace Foundation (2007). Getting Principal Mentorship Right: Lessons from the Field. New York, New York, March; Portin, B.S. et al. (2009). Leadership for Learning Improvement in Urban Schools. Seattle, Wa

2A preparation program that is "in good standing" is a program that has no program quality issues documented by the PA Department of Education that would prevent the program from fully meeting the standards of a Major Review.