The Butler Giving Circle has awarded its second annual community partnership grant to the College of Education (COE) to support the development of a new mentoring program in which experienced teachers of color from the Partnership for Inquiry Learning’s Leadership Group will mentor small groups of COE students in inclusive, culturally responsive, and anti-racist teaching. The COE’s proposal, entitled Mentoring Toward Social Justice and Equity in our Schools and Communities, was selected from among three finalists to receive the $12,065 grant at the Giving Circle’s annual shareholder meeting on June 4. 

In the new mentoring program, five teacher-leaders of color from the Partnership for Inquiry Learning will meet with small groups of COE students at least once per month throughout the 2021-22 academic year to focus on relationship building, discussing and applying learnings from shared readings and coursework, and learning about successes in the mentor’s school community. Participants will then share what was learned through the program at local education conferences and with COE faculty, staff, and students, thereby expanding the program’s impact beyond its direct participants.

Dr. Susan Adamson, Director of the Partnership for Inquiry Learning and a COE faculty member, will lead the program in collaboration with COE Dean Brooke Kandel-Cisco, who says she hopes to see the mentoring program become sustainable in the long term as one component of a comprehensive approach to preparing teachers toward social justice and educational equity. 

“This generous funding will allow COE students to learn alongside an expert teacher mentor of color while also supporting and raising the profile of the teacher mentors of color as they share their expertise and refine their leadership competencies,” Kandel-Cisco says. “Our COE students will soon be educators, spread out across Indiana and beyond, and we are laser-focused on ensuring all our students are culturally and linguistically responsive educators with knowledge and experience working to advance social justice within schools and communities.”

The mentoring program aligns with the University’s Butler Beyond strategic priority of creating an intentionally diverse, inclusive, and equitable learning and working environment through the curriculum, co-curricular learning, scholarship, and community engagement. The program will also support the COE’s strategic efforts to develop pipelines for recruiting and retaining a diverse corps of teachers. According to recent state data, approximately 93 percent of Indiana teachers identify as white, a number not reflective of the Indiana K-12 student population. 

“We know that teachers are the most influential in-school factor impacting K-12 student academic outcomes and that students benefit from teacher racial diversity,” Adamson says. “As a result of our highly experiential and community-based teacher preparation approach, COE students will be able to immediately apply what they learn from this mentoring program for the benefit of local K-12 students.”

Giving Circle Shareholder Ted Argus ʼ08 said the COE’s proposal stood out from among the other finalists because of its potential for having a long-term compounding effect on some of the root issues in education.

“In many school settings, the teaching professionals do not always resemble the makeup of the students within the school. A student who sees someone like themselves as a teacher is more likely to look at education as a potential career path or just simply be more engaged in learning,” Argus says. “Supporting pre-service teachers with mentorships and giving leadership opportunities to teacher leader mentors of color will help to tackle some of the prevailing issues in education, including the development and retention of excellent teachers.”

The Butler Giving Circle was established in 2019 and is designed to connect alumni to their philanthropic areas of passion, focused on two mission-critical elements of the University’s Butler Beyond comprehensive fundraising campaign: student scholarships and Indianapolis community partnerships.

With an annual gift of $500, Butler alumni can become shareholders in the Butler Giving Circle. After shareholder funds are pooled, 40 percent of the funds are directed to the Butler Fund for Student Scholarship, 40 percent are granted to an Indianapolis community partner with an existing affiliation to Butler, and 20 percent are used to fund experiential learning opportunities such as student internships for Butler students with Project 44, the Giving Circle’s priority partner. 

Current Butler students and faculty who are engaged with Indianapolis community partners were invited to apply for the partner funding earlier this year by submitting project ideas. After an initial review of six applicant projects by Butler leadership and the Butler Giving Circle Executive Committee, three finalists were chosen to present their ideas for use of the funds at the June 4 shareholder meeting.

In keeping with the Butler Giving Circle’s funding priorities, $12,065 of this year’s shareholder funds will be directed to the Butler Fund for Student Scholarship and $6,032 will be used to fund student learning opportunities with Project 44. Participation in the Butler Giving Circle increased significantly in its second year, with 52 shareholders in 2021, up from 32 shareholders in 2020. 

New shareholders can join the Butler Giving Circle at any time by making a gift at or by contacting Associate Director of Butler Community Engagement Chelsea Hennessy ’12 at