WestEd, in partnership with Illinois ROE Leadership Hubs, will launch The Bridge Project, a statewide professional learning and systemic improvement initiative aimed at increasing principal workforce diversity through principal pipeline improvements. The project is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education under the federal Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program. The innovative project provides professional development and executive coaching to 50 current assistant principals and teacher-leaders of color, which includes a post-certification residency in organizational leadership and specialized credentials.  

The Bridge Project is an important investment in Illinois’ education leadership workforce. Principals of color currently make up less than 23 percent of the principal population, while students of color make up more than 53 percent of the student population in the state. The project occurs at a time when open Illinois public school principal positions are seen as difficult to staff, despite the state’s many certified education administrators.   

“Research shows that there are positive social and academic effects for both students and teachers of color who have principals of the same race. But all too often, highly-qualified educators of color and women educators do not become principals,” Erika Hunt, Bridge Project Co-director at the Leadership Hub at ROE #17, said.  

“WestEd is excited to partner with ROE Leadership Hubs to increase diversity in the education pipeline in the state of Illinois,” Ayele Dodoo, Bridge Project Co-director and Education Leadership Director at WestEd, said.  

“We are confident this partnership will result in positive outcomes for educators and the communities they serve.”  

The American Institutes for Research will evaluate the study to determine its efficacy and how it can be replicated to diversify the principal workforce more broadly.