RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC/WAVY) — The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has issued over $140,000 in grants to nine local colleges to establish teacher apprenticeship programs in a move designed to combat a shortage of teachers across the commonwealth.

The programs will allow school divisions to work with universities to help teacher’s aides, substitutes and other non-licensed educational staff get their licenses through apprenticeship programs.

The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, in a partnership with Hampton and Newport News school districts, is receiving $16,000. Old Dominion University in Norfolk is getting $20,000 in a partnership with Newport News schools.

“The Apprenticeship Planning Grants build on existing residency programs and local grow-your-own recruitment programs as a means of expanding the teacher pipeline,” State Superintendent Jilian Balow said.

Central Virginia, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie and Hopewell will take part in a pilot of the program with Virginia State University — kick-started with an $11,688 grant from the VDOE.

Virginia Commonwealth University will also participate in the program, supporting prospective teaching apprentices in Prince William, Fairfax and Surry Counties.

University of Virginia’s College at Wise is participating in the program with Buchanan County schools.

Bluefield University has also entered a partnership with Buchanan County as part of this program, as well as Bland and Tazewell counties.

Radford University is partnering with Roanoke, Montgomery County and Radford schools.

George Mason University will get $20,000 to work with Manassas Park, Fairfax County and Loudon County schools.

And Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania County and Stafford County schools are participating in the program with University of Mary Washington.

Many Virginia localities have struggled to fully staff their schools, and a 2021 study found that — adjusted for cost-of-living — Virginia was the worst state in the country for teacher pay.

VDOE will provide technical assistance to planning grant recipients beginning in December. Another round of grants is expected to be announced early next year.