First Year of ASPIRE Grant Paves Way to Increase Counselors in Memphis Schools

News Release


December 14, 2023

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The first year of the newly launched ASPIRE grant is near completion, and the grant’s overseers have so far been pleased with what it’s been able to accomplish, most notably landing a partnership with Memphis-Shelby County Schools (MSCS).

“We are thrilled to team up with (MSCS) to provide rigorous training and professional development for future and existing school counselors,” said Dr. Melanie Burgess, the Principal Investigator of ASPIRE.

ASPIRE, which stands for Advancing School Counseling Programs by Increasing Representation and Experiences, is a five-year, renewable grant that totals $2.4 million. For this first year, Burgess and her Co-PI, Dr. Michelle Brasfield, received just shy of $400K. The funds support current UofM school counseling master’s students and those working to complete their school counseling certificate – covering 24 credit hours of tuition, an annual stipend of $2,200, and any secondary costs that come with field placement at MSCS.

Burgess said, “We aim to increase the number of school counselors who serve our community, as well as enhance their expertise in evidence-based practices to better meet K-12 students’ needs.”

The goal of ASPIRE, according to Burgess, is to train and fund around one hundred aspiring school counselors. There are also stipends for up to three hundred site supervisors, who are currently MSCS school counselors. They will oversee these students during their three field placement experiences in K-12 settings.

There are annual trainings that have been planned for MSCS that Burgess hopes will impact most, if not all, of the current MSCS school counselors in the district. School counseling students who are interested in applying to ASPIRE can click here.