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The Knowles Teacher Initiative is a nonprofit organization that supports a national network of mathematics and science teachers who are collaborative, innovative leaders improving education for all students in the United States. We strive to create an educational system that is led by teachers who are equipped to solve difficult problems and respond to local challenges in order to serve all of our nation’s students.


Focus on Teacher Leadership

The Knowles Teacher Initiative recognizes that teachers can and should be the drivers of educational improvement.

Early-Career Leadership Development

The Knowles Teacher Initiative recognizes that teachers can and do act as leaders in the profession from the beginning of their careers.

A National Network

The Knowles Teacher Initiative has created and is sustaining a national network of more than 450 teachers who are committed to improving mathematics and science education in their classrooms and beyond.

Sustained Support

The Knowles Teaching Fellowship supports early-career teachers for five full years because learning to teach well requires time, effort and resources. The Knowles Teacher Initiative also supports the efforts of teachers to improve education beyond their own classrooms throughout their careers.

For Teachers, By Teachers

The Knowles Teacher Initiative offers sustained professional development, grounded in classroom practice—designed and led by teachers—to teachers throughout the U.S. through the Knowles Academy.

The Inspiration

The inspiration for the Janet H. and C. Harry Knowles Foundation (which was doing business as the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, before becoming the Knowles Teacher Initiative in 2017) dates back to 1968, when Mr. C. Harry Knowles founded Metrologic Instruments, Inc. Metrologic became a leader in advanced bar code scanners and a pioneering force in the data capture industry, eventually registering more than 600 patents; Harry is named as the inventor or co-inventor on 388 of those patents. In addition, Harry is named as the principal inventor on 12 patents from his days in the solid state device technical arena, including the 2N2222 (Star Transistor, a device still being produced by the billions every day), and the Mesa Transistor (the key component in virtually all computers produced worldwide in the early 1960s). While looking for talent to employ at Metrologic Instruments, Mr. Knowles noticed a lack of high-quality science and mathematics training among young engineering recruits. This experience spurred his commitment to supporting science and mathematics education.

About Our Founders

Mr. C. Harry Knowles* and Mrs. Janet H. Knowles established themselves as philanthropists committed to education beginning in 1985, when Metrologic offered financial support to the American Association of Physics Teachers for the creation of PhysicsBowl, a national contest for high school students. Part of this financial support included providing a free laser to the highest scoring school in each region. In 1999, they established the Janet H. and C. Harry Knowles Foundation based on a strong belief that America’s well-being and economic future hinges on bringing new scientists and mathematicians into the workforce. They also wanted to recognize the teachers who helped to shape their lives. Their goal was, and still is, to increase the quantity of high-quality high school science and mathematics teachers in the United States.

* Mr. C. Harry Knowles passed away on January 7, 2020.

Our Story


The Knowles Science Teaching Foundation (KSTF) was established by Janet H. and C. Harry Knowles in 1999 to bring about a greater understanding of science and mathematics in the United States through improved teaching and learning.


The first Teaching Fellowships were awarded to four physics teachers in 2002.


A mathematics strand was added to the Fellowship in 2005, when eight mathematics teachers were awarded Teaching Fellowships. Later that year, KSTF moved its headquarters to a new location in Moorestown, N.J., to accommodate the growth of the foundation and its programs and staff.


In 2005, the first Young Scholars Research Fellowship was awarded. These two-year Fellowships provided financial and professional support to recent, pre-tenure Ph.D.s in research and academic positions who were engaged in critical research relevant to the recruitment, preparation, induction, mentoring and retention of science and mathematics teachers in U.S. high schools.


Three Fellows from the first cohort completed the full five-year program in 2007 and became Senior Fellows.


A biological sciences strand was added to the Teaching Fellowship in 2008, when nine biology teachers were awarded Fellowships.


KSTF commits to a formal Senior Fellows Program and hires a full-time staff member to work on developing and refining the program in 2011. Our goal for the Senior Fellows Program was, and remains, to build on and leverage the leadership capacity and national network that we develop through the Teaching Fellows Program to improve math and science education in the U.S.


With the addition of the 2012 Cohort, the Teaching Fellowship reached its current size of approximately 160 Fellows.


In fall 2014, KSTF published the inaugural issue of its journal—Kaleidoscope: Educator Voices and Perspectives. Edited by Knowles Senior Fellows, Kaleidoscope shares stories from teachers about teaching, leading and learning.


In 2016, the Knowles community consisted of a roughly equal number of Teaching Fellows and Senior Fellows for the first time.


KSTF changed its name to the Knowles Teacher Initiative and launched the Knowles Academy in 2017.


A Growing Knowles Community

In 2007, our first Teaching Fellows successfully completed the program and became Senior Fellows. Each year since, the presence of our Senior Fellows has increased. Fiscal year 2016 marked the first year that we had more Senior Fellows than Teaching Fellows in the Knowles community. In the years to come, we anticipate that Knowles Senior Fellows will play a larger role in determining the direction of the Teaching and Senior Fellow Programs. Further, they will help Knowles to continue to amplify our impact beyond the teachers we support directly.

Knowles Teacher Bar Chart