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153 Connecticut Teachers Awarded Professional Learning Grants

CONNECTICUT –  Today, more than 150 public school teachers from across Connecticut were awarded Fund for Teachers (FFT) grants to pursue self-designed professional learning experiences this summer.  The Dalio Foundation provided FFT with $875,000 this year alone to support these grants for teachers, enhancing their instructional practice, advancing student success, and benefiting their school communities.  The 2019 cohort of FFT fellows brings the total number of Connecticut teachers awarded fellowships to 637 since 2015, with the Dalio Foundation providing more than $3.6 million to support these teachers over the last five years. 

“Teachers are creative and care about their students.  They motivate and inspire them,” said Barbara Dalio, Co-Founder and Director of the Dalio Foundation.  “When given the resources and space, magic happens.”

“Earlier this year, I asked philanthropic organizations to join us at the table and help us create the Connecticut we know we can be,” said Governor Ned Lamont.  “Teachers are a critical component to improving student success and establishing a strong foundation from which our kids can grow.  I commend Barbara and the Dalio Foundation for their commitment and look forward to working together.”

This year’s Connecticut FFT fellows will learn in 24 states and 35 countries across six continents.  These teachers represent tremendous diversity, teaching in urban and rural communities, in grades Pre-K through 12, and across all content areas.  They will return from their professional learning experiences to benefit thousands of Connecticut students across 89 schools and 55 districts, including some of the highest need districts in the state; among this year’s fellows, 87 come from Title I schools, serving predominantly low-income students. 

More than 260 teachers—a record number for Connecticut—submitted FFT applications in 2019.  They detailed the professional development experiences they envisioned for themselves and the variety of ways in which those experiences would impact their students and schools.  In March, a committee of nearly 60 teachers and community leaders gathered to review the applications against FFT’s criteria and select the 153 fellows.  

“Having been personally involved with Fund for Teachers, I know how important it is to trust the judgment of teachers in carving out their own professional learning,” said Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (D-CT 5th District).  “Both students and teachers thrive when we have some ownership over our professional development choices.”

“Teachers are pursuing incredible opportunities thanks to the Dalio Foundation’s generosity and support for public education.  The effort teachers dedicate to their fellowship experiences reflect the deep and sustained passion they have for their students and the subjects they teach,” said Jan Hochadel, President of the American Federation of Teachers Connecticut.  “FFT fellowships are a wonderful way to simultaneously celebrate and rekindle that passion.”  

“The Dalio Foundation has demonstrated an unprecedented commitment to Connecticut’s teachers, enabling them to pursue moonshot goals in service of their students’ learning,” said Karen Webb, Executive Director of Fund for Teachers.  “The Dalio Foundation’s leadership has allowed more than 600 visionary Connecticut teachers to push past boundaries and navigate new paths that empower their students and strengthen their communities.” 

Here are several examples of this year’s Connecticut FFT fellowships:

  • Nicholas Manciero from Stratford High School will travel to Italy to study how mathematical concepts were used during the construction of cathedrals, towers, aqueducts, and monuments during the Roman Empire, Gothic, and the Renaissance periods.  Nicholas will apply what he learns to help bring mathematical concepts to life for his students through visuals and stories.
  • Brian Ash from Waterford High School will join the Pambamarca program in Cangahua, Ecuador to practice archaeological field techniques, excavate pre-Columbian Inca fortresses and road systems, and work with a museum to create an installation of artifacts, collecting primary sources, realia, photos, and stories to enrich his classroom history lessons.
  • Abigail Ricciardi from East Hartford’s Gov. William Pitkin Elementary School and Andrea Silva from East Hartford’s Early Childhood Learning Center will travel to Lefkas, Greece to engage in an immersion workshop in yoga, mindfulness, and self-regulation learning techniques they can use to improve the emotional well-being of their students with special education needs.
  • Martin Cheney from Meriden’s Washington Middle School and Jillian Pomposi from Meriden’s Orville H. Platt High School will investigate best practices to support English language learners, transient students, and students who are first generation immigrants by attending the International Colloquium on Languages, Cultures, Identity in Schools and Society in Soria, Spain.

About the Dalio Foundation  

The Dalio Foundation is a Connecticut-based family foundation created by Ray and Barbara Dalio.  The Foundation’s giving reflects the diverse philanthropic passions of the Dalio family.  Barbara leads the Foundation’s work to strengthen public education in Connecticut through collaboration, investing more than $50 million in the state’s public school districts, non-profit organizations, and communities over the past four years alone.  Barbara is passionate about engaging with educators, community leaders, and young people to achieve positive outcomes and greater equity across the state.  The Foundation’s education portfolio reflects her holistic approach, which includes championing public school educators and communities and empowering high school-aged youth to realize their potential.  To learn more, visit:

About Fund for Teachers 

As an independent non-profit organization, FFT annually awards grants to Pre-K through 12 teachers to pursue self-designed summer fellowships for professional learning.  Since 2001, FFT has awarded approximately $32 million in grants, empowering nearly 8,500 teachers to explore their passions, deepen their scholarship, and enhance their craft.  FFT Fellows have studied in 151 countries across all 7 continents, becoming powerful change agents in their schools and communities.  They inspire and challenge their students to problem solve with real- world issues, embrace perseverance, take ownership of their learning, and build empathy of others.  For more information, visit:

Media Contact:

Duby McDowell