Native American Teacher Retention Initiative (NATRI)

The Education Department received the Native American Teacher Retention Initiative (NATRI) grant at the end of last year and will spend the next five years working through this grant to support Indigenous teacher retention in k-12 schools.

The grant provides a $3,000 stipend per semester for Indigenous students from a federally recognized tribe who want to go into teaching and helps cover fees associated with getting the MTEL licensure. This is a great opportunity not only for high school students pursuing higher education but also for tribal members looking for a career change who may be interested in teaching. For teachers already in the field, NATRI provides a $500 stipend per semester, professional development opportunities, and other forms of in-field support.

A major goal of the program is to increase the number of Native American teachers within the school system. Research shows that Native students tend to do better in classrooms where their educator shares a similar identity, and having Indigenous representation within the schools is directly linked to Native student success. Participants in this program are asked to commit to teaching in one of the seven districts primarily serving Mashpee Wampanoag students (Mashpee, Falmouth, Barnstable, New Bedford, Wareham, Sandwich, and Bourne).

Brad Lopes, an Aquinnah Wampanoag tribal member, serves as the program manager for NATRI. Brad grew up in Maine and received his degree in Secondary Education from UMaine Farmington. He was a teacher for five years and loved working hands-on with students in the classroom. Noting his own experiences of hardship when it came to not feeling seen and understood at school as a tribal student, he went into teaching with the hope of making a change. Brad explained that currently, school systems within the Education Department’s service area are made up of around 70% white staff, but that as Wampanoag people, he feels that teaching is something we have always done and can come naturally to Indigenous people.

For more information about the NATRI program and all of the opportunities it provides, please reach out to Brad Lopes.

Brad Lopes – NATRI Program Manager 

[email protected]


Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe
Education Department

483 Great Neck Road South
Mashpee, MA 02649

508-477-0208 x8

[email protected]

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