Cumbres Teacher Preparation Program

Cumbres Teacher Preparation Program
University of Northern Colorado
Academic Level
Issue Area
Key Personnel
Program Focus
Bilingual /ESL,
Development of Teachers


The CUMBRES Teacher Preparation Program at UNC is a scholarship and support program for students who are planning to become English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers. Cumbres recruits, supports and mentor undergraduates students who pursue a degree in education (Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary, Special Education,) and who also declare an endorsement in English as a Second Language (ESL) to work and teach culturally and linguistically diverse students in K-12 education.

Program Description

 Applicants are interviewed individually to ensure students' commitment to becoming ESL teachers and agents of change for underrepresented and ESL K-12 students. In addition, students are offered scholarships to ensure persistence in the program. 

Cumbres is grounded in three high-impact educational practices designed to bridge the service gaps for Latinx and all program participants:

  1. Residential Community: During their freshman year, participants live in a residential community. An upper-classman Resident Assistant (RA) who is also a Cumbres student serves as a mentor and tutor to students to provide meaningful, ongoing support helping students successfully engage with peers, faculty, staff and student affairs professionals on campus.
  2. Learning Community: As part of their general education requirements, participants take classes together with their Cumbres cohort. This allows students to be in classes with their residential community to build a community that supports each other academically and socially.
  3. Mentorship: First-year participants (including transfer and non-traditional students) meet with a peer academic advisor and a mentor teacher in K-12 education.


  • Increased 6-year graduation: In 2020, 61% (14 of 23) of participants who began the program in the 2014 cohort graduated within six years. In comparison, 50% of all students at the University of Northern Colorado graduate within six years.
  • Increased persistence: In the 2019 cohort, 71% (12 of 17) of participants persisted from fall 2019 to fall 2020. In the 2016 cohort, 81% (25 of 31) of participants persisted from fall 2016 to fall 2017.
  • Increased job placement: Each year, approximately 90% of participants secure ESL teaching positions in K-12 either prior to graduation or before the start of the next K-12 school year or term.

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