Chelsea Archie, a 2019 Fund for Teachers fellow from Owasso, participates in a research dive on the Great Barrier Reef in eastern Australia. Archie and her teammate traveled to Australia to observe conservation programs in preparation for a new inquiry-based unit that engages middle school students with local and global conservation efforts.

October 25, 2019 — Native American teachers from all Oklahoma tribal areas seeking customized professional development opportunities are encouraged to apply for a Fund for Teachers grant.

The Fund for Teachers grant program awards fellowships of up to $5,000 for individual teachers and up to $10,000 for teams of teachers for self-designed professional development experiences to take place anywhere in the world during the summer months.

The grants are offered through a partnership with the national nonprofit Fund for Teachers, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence and the Tulsa Community Foundation. Oklahoma’s 2019 Fund for Teachers program was funded in part with support from a tribal alliance including the Chickasaw Nation, Cherokee Nation, Citizen Potawatomi Nation, the Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Additional tribes are being invited to participate in the 2020 tribal alliance supporting Fund for Teachers grants.

Fund for Teachers supports teachers in their desire to improve their craft and gain understanding by offering professional development unique to the needs of their students and teaching philosophy. Since 2006, the Fund for Teachers program in Oklahoma has provided more than $3.1 million in grant funds to 878 Oklahoma teachers.

Fund for Teachers fellowships are open to Oklahoma pre-K through 12th-grade teachers in public, private, parochial and charter schools. Applicants must have at least three years of teaching experience, be full-time employees and spend 50 percent or more of their time in a classroom setting. In addition, applicants must have the intention of returning to their school and/or district following their summer professional development. School administrators are not eligible for the grants.

The grant cycle application process is now open online at and will close Jan. 30, 2020.

This summer, 28 teachers from Oklahoma schools returned from learning odysseys in locations in Europe, Japan, South America and North America. Fellows ignited new passions for learning as they ventured through diverse ecosystems, toured historical locations, observed industry professionals, experimented with new technology, and more.

Chelsea Archie, Cherokee tribal member, and teammate Shanna Eicher, science teachers from Owasso Seventh Grade Center, journeyed to Eastern Australia to investigate the effects of climate change on the country’s ocean and land ecosystems to develop an inquiry-based unit that engages students in local and global conservation efforts. While in Australia, the team met with conservationists and research scientists to discuss the current state of local ecosystems and to strategize about conservation. Their learning adventure included guided tours of rain forests and animal sanctuaries, behind-the scenes research at the Cairns Aquarium, underwater research at the Great Barrier Reef, observing conservation efforts at the Australia Zoo, and visiting local research colleges.

“I would describe this fellowship as a game-changing event in my education career,” Archie said. “As educators, it is our duty to learn as much as we can so we can be the best teachers for our students. I can now infuse more real-world problem-solving and critical thinking into my classroom, talk with colleagues about complex world issues, and encourage others to stretch outside of their comfort zones.”

For more information about Fund for Teachers, or to apply for a grant, visit, contact Sara Wilson at or call 405-236-0006, Ext. 12.

Article by: Sara Wilson, Foundation for Excellence