Governor Mills Announces $985,000 in Grants to Recruit, Train and Retain Maine Educators

Grant awards to six Maine schools will significantly expand educator apprenticeship opportunities

Governor Janet Mills announced today that her Administration has awarded six schools a total of $985,000 to recruit, train, and retain educators through pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship pilot programs. Associate Commissioner of Labor Samantha Dina and Associate Commissioner of Education Megan Welter announced the awards during a Zoom press conference today.

The initiative, funded in part by Governor Mills' Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan and unveiled earlier this year, is part of a larger effort by the Mills Administration to connect employers with a skilled workforce and workers with career opportunities.

The awards will be used to train nearly 200 new and existing educators in 12 counties across the state – with a focus on building pathways for multilingual individuals, people with disabilities, and people of color and rural communities to increase representation among Maine's educator workforce. The six institutions of education receiving awards are:

  • Brunswick School Department - $105,000
  • MSAD 1 / RSU #79 - $75,000
  • RSU #34 - $249,000
  • Portland Public Schools - $250,000
  • University of Maine Farmington - $144,000
  • University of Southern Maine - $162,000

The six schools awarded funds will partner with the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Department of Labor's Registered Apprenticeship Program to pilot new educator apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs.

"As the daughter of a longtime public school teacher, I understand the deep and lasting impact that teachers have on their students, schools, and communities,"said Governor Janet Mills. "Helping Maine educators advance and grow in their careers is not only good for them, but it is also good for our students and can lead to better outcomes for everyone in the long-term. I am pleased we are putting funds from my Jobs Plan to use to help Maine schools find the teachers they need and support educators on the path to fulfilling careers as they make a difference in the lives of our children."

Registered apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships are highly effective tools for workers to build their skill set and connect to high-wage careers and for employers to recruit and retain workers.

The Maine Apprenticeship Program currently has 1,382 apprentices and 411 participating businesses, with the program continuing to grow, including more than 30 educator apprentices through two distinct programs funded by the Governor's Jobs Plan – Gorham School District in partnership with Southern Maine Community College and University of Southern Maine, and Washington County Community College in partnership with MSAD 37.

The initiative expands a program launched last year at Washington County Community College and the Gorham School District. The program was created after the Maine Department of Education last year released its Teach Maine plan, in partnership with educators and stakeholders, to bolster the teacher workforce through innovative recruitment and retention strategies, including programs like apprenticeships. With encouragement from the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor, Maine joined several other states in launching apprenticeships in educator occupations with new programs at Washington County Community College and the Gorham School District.

This expansion of teacher apprenticeship programs is supported by Federal funding, including $375,000 through the Governor's Jobs Plan.

"The Maine Department of Labor works with employers to fulfill their workforce needs and works to connect Maine's people to high quality jobs. One way that we do this is through mutually beneficial registered apprenticeships," said Laura Fortman, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor."Registered Apprenticeship is an excellent training model for schools to use, as it supports those already working in Maine's schools to advance down the path of becoming a certified teacher, while continuing to earn an income."

"The Maine Department of Education is committed to ensuring that everyone who wants to become a teacher in Maine has a pathway into the profession and is supported in the classroom. Teacher apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships offer a meaningful pathway to recruit, prepare, and support aspiring educators and we are excited to see these programs expanded across our state," said Pender Makin, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Education.

The Maine Departments of Labor and Education accepted applications from organizations through September 25, 2023. Fifteen applications were received, and funding was awarded with a focus on increasing representation in the education sector among rural communities, people of color, and multilingual learners.

This investment is the latest by the Mills Administration to strengthen Maine's workforce and create good-paying jobs in rewarding careers. It builds on the Mills Administration's commitment to addressing systemic challenges that have constrained Maine's ability to grow and thrive, with priority focus on investments to grow and develop Maine's workforce.

This grant funding also builds on the investment of $12.3 million awarded to expand apprenticeship through the Governor's Jobs Plan and other Federal funds.

Apprentices in Maine who completed their program in the last two years increased their wages, on average, by nearly 40 percent. Nationally, 91 percent of apprentices continue their employment with their apprenticeship sponsoring business once their training is complete.

Maine people or businesses interested in registered apprenticeships can check out videos of apprentices and employers in action, easily find information about how the program works, and use the map to find an apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship near you on the overhauled website:

The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan is the Governor's plan, approved by the Legislature, to invest nearly $1 billion in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to improve the lives of Maine people and families, help businesses, create good-paying jobs, and build an economy poised for future prosperity.

Since the Jobs Plan took effect in October 2021, the Mills Administration has delivered direct economic relief to nearly 1,000 Maine small businesses, supported more than 100 infrastructure projects around the state to create jobs and revitalize communities, and invested in workforce programs estimated to offer apprenticeship, career and education advancement, and job training opportunities to 22,000 Maine people.

For more about Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, visit Get more about Maine's apprenticeship program here.