Kern grant extends impact of Institute for Educational Leadership

A new five-year, $2.57 million grant from the Kern Family Foundation will bolster the University of Northern Iowa’s Institute for Educational Leadership’s “Leading and Learning with Character” program, which has provided professional development for Iowa school leaders since 2018. 

“This work is focused on rich dialogue around ethical, character-driven leadership that positively impacts schools and communities,” said Denise Schares, director and associate professor of educational psychology, foundations and leadership studies, in a UNI Foundation release. “We are creating a model of support for educational leadership and character development that is being shared nationally.” 

The first phase of the program was targeted to principals, superintendents and school board members in Iowa’s rural school districts that may have limited access to professional development. The new grant will allow the IEL to connect with new audiences such as non-public school leaders, leaders supporting special education teachers and classroom teachers. With this second phase, Schares estimates that, cumulatively, the program should reach 75 percent of Iowa school districts and more than 3,000 educators. 

The new funding coincides with recently enacted state standards for leadership, including an ethics standard, an area of focus for the program. The grant supports IEL leadership and staffing. Read the news release on the Kern grant.